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To Byron (aka “SkepticX”)
Posted: 12 January 2009 07:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]  
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unknown zone - 13 January 2009 12:13 AM

This is the quickest moving thread in recent history around here, which the current posts/views ratio clearly reflect, at least right now. Have you switched to a higher caffeine-content drink, Bruce?

I’ve increased my protein intake as of December 27, and am walking 5 miles a day and pumping iron. Energy is through the roof. Good observation.

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unknown zone - 13 January 2009 12:13 AM

Also, Bruce, I wonder if you’ve really considered all the possibilities that may have been behind your past revelation(s). I wonder if you’re aware that lots of teenagers have a TLE seizure or two, then no more for the rest of their lives.

Epileptic seizures are not something most people want to have, and they’re also not something most people want to have others know about their having had. Are you possibly rationalizing your experience so that you won’t need to deal with the possible fact that you had a seizure? You, who are healthy, mentally sound, a respected attorney, for god’s sake?

Which really is more likely: seizure/hallucination or magical visitation? Tell the truth.

First, note the assumption that is contained in the phrase “magical visitation.” If we are going to be completely reasonable, you can’t make an a priori assumption that an experience is “magical.” That reveals a bias on your part.  That having been noted, a seizure/hallucination is more likely than a divine revelation in human experience.

My response is that the sense of presence which began 37 years ago has not left me. The intensity of the experience has never been duplicated (there were 2-3 times when it was extreme), but the after effects have remained. Those include, but are not limited to, a sense of divine presence, an inward, subjective experience of faith, a desire to study scripture and a sense of illumination when I do that, and other effects. I don’t want to waste your time talking about my subjective sensations. However, the experiences have impacted my life in a way that causes me to conclude that they were not simply seizures. That is a possibility, but one that I have eliminated. Thanks for the post.

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Posted: 12 January 2009 09:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 13 January 2009 12:43 AM

My response is that the sense of presence which began 37 years ago has not left me. The intensity of the experience has never been duplicated (there were 2-3 times when it was extreme), but the after effects have remained. Those include, but are not limited to, a sense of divine presence, an inward, subjective experience of faith, a desire to study scripture and a sense of illumination when I do that, and other effects. I don’t want to waste your time talking about my subjective sensations. However, the experiences have impacted my life in a way that causes me to conclude that they were not simply seizures. That is a possibility, but one that I have eliminated. Thanks for the post.

I am not one to discount the personal experience of what is commonly called the experience of rapture or enlightenment which may give one the feeling of comprehension of some special or higher knowledge or insights that we may normally not be aware of in our daily lives or pay attention to on the surface of our consciousness. This is not such a unique experience and is described similarly amongst many who come to be aware of it, and indeed there are those that may not even pay attention as it may be relatively fleeting and short-lived and easily dispensed with (not given a second thought or examined further). But I have surmised that this is a function of the human brain and body probably in conjunction with some external or internal stimuli (nature or contemplation), thus one common reported theme of feeling one with the universe, mankind or nature.

Some here are prone to use the term woo at the slightest hint of any experience of this sort, which by the way, in some definitions I’ve read include simple emotion as one (I wouldn’t go that far). But if one doesn’t jump to the conclusion that it automatically involves some supernatural force, consciousness or being, then by default it is subject to scientific inquiry that can and does produce rational answers. Also, there has been much study on the effects of electro-magnetic waves on the brain which may produce visions and feelings not common to everyday experiences. Some have theorized that cultural norms of the time serve to produce commonality in descriptions of visions and experiences when the brain is stimulated by an abnormally high exposure to electro-magnetic waves, such as god/saint/angel/devil in ancient times, and the common alien/abduction descriptions, including light at the end of the tunnel, that we hear of today. Today, many of our divine visions are commonly regulated to apparitions and water stains on glass. Not to be omitted, are the auditory and visual hallucinations associated with mental illness.

I have to think that in your case Bruce, and with many Christians, you have some particular affinity to the mythical personna of Jesus, his ideals and perfection of the human potential, and spirituality that draws you to the character. The very fact that he can’t be proven to exist or not exist makes it an ideal illusion in which to cling. You can rapt yourself into the something greater than ourselves, and life after death mythologys that obviously relieves some anxiety and provides a certain measure of comfort.

How’s that for some unsolicited pop-psychology?

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Posted: 12 January 2009 09:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]  
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goodgraydrab - 13 January 2009 02:27 AM

Some here are prone to use the term woo at the slightest hint of any experience of this sort, which by the way, in some definitions I’ve read include simple emotion as one (I wouldn’t go that far). But if one doesn’t jump to the conclusion that it automatically involves some supernatural force, consciousness or being, then by default it is subject to scientific inquiry that can and does produce rational answers.

Maybe so. Some people claim it is like being a dog. Not literally, just some pre-self-aware animal phase of biological aliveness.

This approach helps to de-mystify the experience, and keep it from becoming self-congratulatory (which is something we are trying to avoid, right?)

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Posted: 13 January 2009 05:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]  
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Dennis Campbell - 12 January 2009 07:10 PM

While deeply disagreeing with Bruce on his theology, I must post that he as an adult who is also a theist, has been more open to reconsideration of some of his ideas than have some of us here.


I don’t think you’re paying very close attention to the actual nature and limits of this alleged “openness.”

Byron

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Posted: 13 January 2009 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]  
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My disagreements with Bruce’s religious beliefs, that appear more to comfort him than to justify some particular social policies, are less important to me than those social policies.  I had a friend, a staunch Mormon, who argued that gay people had no right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, because they were sinners who needed to be punished – not just by some god, but by human sanctions. I do not recall reading Bruce posting some equivalent set of social policies about gay people or anything else. 

When some theist salespeople show up at my front door and seek my time and interest in considering their product, usually called “god’s words,” they’re asked to leave.  Mostly they do.  In one case, I called the police to have them escorted off of what was then a private road, when they did not leave.  I was then condemned by their god, and have suffered from that cruel fate ever since.  Not. 

Point is, a person’s verbalized belief systems are of less interest to me than what they do with those belief systems that directly impacts me or mine.  The Mormons, in Arizona where I lived for some years, were always trying to impose their social values on everyone else, not on the basis of some argument that “We think this best,” but because “God demands this.” 

Dennis

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 13 January 2009 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]  
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Dennis Campbell - 13 January 2009 11:59 AM

When some theist salespeople show up at my front door and seek my time and interest in considering their product, usually called “god’s words,” they’re asked to leave.  Mostly they do.  In one case, I called the police to have them escorted off of what was then a private road, when they did not leave.  I was then condemned by their god, and have suffered from that cruel fate ever since.  Not.

You’re lucky they didn’t worship some more powerful deity, like Santa Ria devotees, or IRS auditors.  Then you would have been toast.

Dennis Campbell - 13 January 2009 11:59 AM

Point is, a person’s verbalized belief systems are of less interest to me than what they do with those belief systems that directly impacts me or mine.  The Mormons, in Arizona where I lived for some years, were always trying to impose their social values on everyone else, not on the basis of some argument that “We think this best,” but because “God demands this.” 
Dennis

I’ll bet they were a pretty humorless lot as well.  You couldn’t tell mormon jokes with them at the market.

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Posted: 13 January 2009 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 12 January 2009 10:07 PM

If Jesus is the express image of the invisible God, as the NT claims, then God has revealed himself to us. If not, then perhaps you are right - maybe God hasn’t revealed himself, perhaps because he does not exist. I have no alternative to Jesus being the Son of God, other than that God does not exist. Jesus is my only ace.

Obviously, no amount of intellectualizing or discussion will get you to change your mind that god exists, except for another personal revelation of sorts or event in your life having such emotional impact that it might get you to reassess. I welcome your position changes on specific issues that may be considered more rational based and secular oriented, but this is no great feat given that the alternative is complete literalism of the bible. Just as with judges interpreting the constitution to fit todays circumstances, Christians continually attempt to interpret and mold the bibles’s meaning and applicability to modern times resulting in wide disagreements and splits in dogma and philosophy, thereby creating various branches and sects within the same religion, and between individuals of the same group.

I am curious though Bruce, especially given your occupation, do you ever consider how you might be limiting your thought process in some of your justifications and methods for your formulation of your belief? For instance in your statement above, isn’t another alternative that while holding that god of the OT may indeed exist (Judaism), Jesus was not a god but a man who set out to address problems of ancient religious practices that he might have considered to be barbaric, nonsensical, outmoded, inhumane and unnecessary, and the best way to do it, in his assessment was ... well, it’s your story? Another thing, how is it that you can state that unless Jesus did not exist and wasn’t god, that god did not reveal himself? Isn’t the OT replete with revelation of himself to numerous select icons of the very religion under which Christianity is based? In other words, given that Jews are the chosen people, and Jesus is not the messiah, is it your contention that under those circumstances, god does not exist?

Finally, do you ever have an occurrence through repeated discussion about your beliefs with people like us and people of your own beliefs, including academic and spiritual immersion into the whole subject that you experience moments of enlightenment that reveals a truth of the human origin of religions and resultant beliefs and practices? I am speaking of something more than the doubt which your religion emphasizes the necessity and degree of faith for overcoming, but moments of a genuine deep knowledge and realization that man created god and not the other way around, and that you understand your place as a living being on this planet and in the natural universe.

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Posted: 13 January 2009 09:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]  
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goodgraydrab - 13 January 2009 02:27 AM

How’s that for some unsolicited pop-psychology?

It’s fine. I always appreciate any response that does not include the words “fuckwit,” “fucking moron,” “idiot,” “insane,” “human vermin,” or (my all-time favorite) “paramecium.”

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Posted: 13 January 2009 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]  
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goodgraydrab - 13 January 2009 01:09 PM

I am curious though Bruce, especially given your occupation, do you ever consider how you might be limiting your thought process in some of your justifications and methods for your formulation of your belief? For instance in your statement above, isn’t another alternative that while holding that god of the OT may indeed exist (Judaism), Jesus was not a god but a man who set out to address problems of ancient religious practices that he might have considered to be barbaric, nonsensical, outmoded, inhumane and unnecessary, and the best way to do it, in his assessment was ... well, it’s your story? Another thing, how is it that you can state that unless Jesus did not exist and wasn’t god, that god did not reveal himself? Isn’t the OT replete with revelation of himself to numerous select icons of the very religion under which Christianity is based? In other words, given that Jews are the chosen people, and Jesus is not the messiah, is it your contention that under those circumstances, god does not exist?

The OT is even more remote that the NT. It’s rules and regulations are often totally irrelevant to us today. By itself, there is little there to attract, which may be one reason that there are so few Jews (especially Jews who actually believe in God) compared to other theistic faiths. It took Jesus to make sense out of the OT, fulfill it and bring it up to date. If the OT is based on a revelation of God, then it would seem to me that it would take a similar revelation from God to make the transformation from OT to NT. So, if Jesus is not the messiah, then there is nothing in the OT by itself that stirs faith in me. Most Jews don’t even seem to believe in it, which should tell you something.

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Posted: 13 January 2009 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]  
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goodgraydrab - 13 January 2009 01:09 PM

Finally, do you ever have an occurrence through repeated discussion about your beliefs with people like us and people of your own beliefs, including academic and spiritual immersion into the whole subject that you experience moments of enlightenment that reveals a truth of the human origin of religions and resultant beliefs and practices? I am speaking of something more than the doubt which your religion emphasizes the necessity and degree of faith for overcoming, but moments of a genuine deep knowledge and realization that man created god and not the other way around, and that you understand your place as a living being on this planet and in the natural universe.

No, I have never had a moment of “enlightenment” that man created God. Have you ever had a moment of “enlightenment” in which you see the bias contained in your own question?

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Posted: 13 January 2009 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]  
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Thought some of you might enjoy these,  posted to me by my son.

Dennis


Faith means not wanting to know what is true. - Friedrich Nietzsche

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature. - Frank Lloyd Wright

We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes. - Gene Roddenberry

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. - Seneca the Younger

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg

I still say a church steeple with a lightning rod on top shows a lack of confidence. - Doug McLeod

The world holds two classes of men - intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence. - Abu’fl Ala al Ma’farri

The hard work of 1 person accomplishes more than the prayers of 1,000 people. - (can’t remember who said this)

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. - Richard Dawkins

In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point. - Friedrich Nietzsche

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. - Stephen Roberts

God should be executed for crimes against humanity. - Bryan Emmanuel Gutierrez

Of all religions the Christian is without doubt the one which should inspire tolerance most, although up to now the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men. - Voltaire

A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it. - David Stevens (one of my favorites)

History teaches us that no other cause has brought more death than the word of god. - Giulian Buzila

A believer states everything must have a creator but fail to say how he was created.

Properly read, the bible is the most potent force for Atheism ever conceived. - Isaac Asimov

Gods dont kill people. People with Gods kill people. - David Viaene

Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. - Frater Ravus

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o, and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have. - Penn Jillette

The inspiration of the bible depends on the ignorance of the person who reads it. - Robert G. Ingersoll

When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion. - Robert Pirsig

I have no need for religion, I have a conscience.

If god is the alpha and the omega. The begining and the end, knows what has passed and what is to come, like it states in the bible, why do people pray and think it will make any difference. - Mark Fairclough

The finality of death is the coldest truth one must face. Religion is the perfect distraction.

Animals do not have gods, they are smarter than that. - Ronnie Snow

Fundamentalism, of any type, due to its prerequisite lack of intelligent thought, could prove to be the worst weapon of mass destruction, of all. - David J. Constable

Today’s religion will be the future’s mythology. Both believed at one time by many; but proved wrong by the clever. - Steven Crocker

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 13 January 2009 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 13 January 2009 02:57 PM

No, I have never had a moment of “enlightenment” that man created God. Have you ever had a moment of “enlightenment” in which you see the bias contained in your own question?

I don’t see bias in the question. To answer in the reverse ... No.

So, if Jesus is not the messiah, then there is nothing in the OT by itself that stirs faith in me. Most Jews don’t even seem to believe in it, which should tell you something.

Well, don’t go telling Israel that, they might bomb your house.

So you worship God & Son, Inc. but Pops kicked the bucket, and Jr. makes a lot better salami sandwich than Dad ever did. What it tells me is that my view of your twisted thought process regarding religion and god (?) is confirmed.

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