Comments

  1. Murat says

    About the very first caller:
    Trump’s victory seems to have already encouraged being pointless, self-confident and vulgar.
    This kind of thing is also becoming more visible than normal on Twitter and Facebook.

  2. says

    The first real caller (Jared) asking about time, this screams of post-modernism garbage that is pervasive in the religious, and academic institutions of today.

    Matt, it was good seeing you in Vancouver, I hope you checked out Dr. Jordan Peterson and what has occurred in the University of Toronto.

  3. Ross Booker says

    I think the conversation about existence and the chess example is quite interesting. Imagine some point after the heat death of the universe, supposedly all there is at that point is low energy photons spread thinly and evenly throughout space. There is no change, and photons themselves don’t experience time in the way we conceive, due to relativity. To quote an interesting explanation on the website quora:

    “However, photons live on null surfaces where all events are null separated. This means that for the photon, its own emission and absorption is a single event. The are no defined notions such as “happening”, “process”, or “experience.”

    To better grasp how truly bizarre this is, just think about this: There is a path through spacetime such that the distance between surface of the Sun and your eye is zero.

    For a photon, time is non-existent and meaningless. This does bring up some rather interesting questions, for example, to what extent can we say that photons “exist” and why and how do we observe properties of photons that vary in time?”

    In this way the caller’s idea claim, that something can exist for zero time, could be plausible.

  4. Kapetan says

    @Murat

    While it might have to do with Trump’s win, it’s unlikely. Idiots were there before, were calling before, and they would’ve been here regardless of the outcome of the elections.

    This isn’t coming from Trump supporter, but you can’t just blame it all on Trump’s win.

  5. whywontthisletmeusemyname says

    Geez the past 24 hours have been very retrospective for me and that last caller was no exception. That was my story too. I started having doubts and questions. The answers the Christians gave weren’t good enough. And now here I am, and here I’ve been…for almost 2 years now.

  6. whywontthisletmeusemyname says

    (Ok so it turns out I can’t simply use my name on here, I’m guessing because another Alyssa exists somewhere out there on this site. I kept getting an imposter error or whatever. That was kinda frustrating and it took me a good 5 minutes to successfully post my comment.)

  7. ALFREDO WILSON says

    LOL that first caller. It’s been so long since there’s been a prank call like that. reminds me of the good old days.

  8. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    First up a degenerate with nothing useful.

    Jarard made me enjoy my ham sandwich with creamy avocado, lettuce and cheese.

    Oscar(the non-grouch) with Nirvana(lacking in music.) Drugs can be used recreationally too, no illness needed.

    Who you’re gonna call?

    TheAtheistExperience!” – Vince.

    I personally think Jesus went around for years calling everyone fat but then matured in his latter years, so the bible just discarded those tidbits of fun.

    Billy just unravelled like a rag.

    Matt went off during Kev’s call, I enjoyed it. 😀

    Democrats in a mob. What’s a mob to a Trump? What’s a Trump to a god? What’s a god to an unbeliever, who don’t believe in it?

  9. Jonathan B. says

    I have a couple of comments.
    1: About the guy who called about time and things existing without time.
    The Photon. A Partical of light. Since it travels at the speed of light by very definition, time from the prespective of the photon itself is 0. The photon reachs whatever absorbs it’s enegery instantaniously, despite traveling millions, or billions of years accross the galaxy or from another galaxy. From the photon’s prespective the trip is instantanious and that the distance is 0.
    At least as far as the way I understand this video’s explination.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoUc4-q4Ibc

    2: About I think it was one of the last callers.
    He sounds like he’s about where I am, and where I”ve been the past few years.

  10. Phil Munson says

    I really appreciated the last caller from New York who was questioning his faith. That is my story. Thanks to the efforts of atheists such as the good people on this show the light has come on for me after 35 years of calling myself Christian. It was a slow process. Life is good now. Truth is what matters! Thank you to all the atheists who have put themselves out there!

  11. Kenny De Metter says

    This is a bit of a strange question, but on the bookshelf in the image , the 9th book on the right ( red book with white letters).
    Isn’t that’s “Dire Predictions – understanding climate change” by Mann and Kump ?

  12. Monocle Smile says

    Entropy is a very clear demonstration of the passage of time. I’m still not sure why Jarard called. Dude, try to play a game of chess without falling prey to the “time of our universe.” I’m glad Matt cut that short; what a useless, pathetic call. Abstractions don’t actually exist. They are fictions created for the ease of communication, nothing more.

    In fact, over the past several weeks, I’ve been rather baffled as to why many of the callers actually called, because there have been a ton of discussions that don’t appear to be even remotely related to a/theism.

  13. Monocle Smile says

    Billy knows just enough to be dangerous. He’s read a few woo articles and that’s it. Billy, an explanation that could have every property is not an explanation.

    Kevin seemed like a good thinker at first, but he’s just super gullible. None of the gospel stories appear to reflect real history; a few characters might have historical foundations, but that’s it. He should look up Simeon bar Kochba. He was a much, much bigger deal than the jesus until his rebellion was put down hard. Of course, Kevin’s just lost in emotional attachment at this point.

  14. Mobius says

    #6 shadowblade

    I’m sure Matt will post it on his YouTube page when the video becomes available.

  15. shadowblade says

    Cheers, Mobius.

    I found the web site advertising and hosting the event, but nothing available yet.

    😀

  16. Mel Eder says

    The first called was a time wasting twit. Jared about existence. Like a lot of people like the sound of quantum mechanics, but like most (including me) does not understand it. The thing about the sub atomic level, physics laws are not applicable. I am probably wrong but I think they are still trying to find quantum gravity which may or may not be related to space-time . The caller insisting there is intelligent design, I don’t know how he got to either design or any intelligence behind it

  17. says

    For the time necessity, I think another way of putting it is, suppose that chessboard starts existing at t=10s, and stops existing at t=10s.

    It’d “exist” for 0s. It wouldn’t blink in/out, it just wouldn’t ever manifest.

  18. TheYouTube Guy says

    Science is different than math but I want to explain why you can’t rule out explanations and then claim you have the answer.

    Let’s pretend we are trying to solve 2+2. It’s one of the most simple questions ever asked. Unfortunately we only know the numbers 1,2,3,5,6,7,8 and 0. Someone comes along and researches all the numbers we know and shows that they’re wrong. Then someone new comes in and says “Ah! There is a new number, it is Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ. This must be the answer because the other numbers have been ruled out!”

    They are wrong though. What they’ve given us isn’t a number. What’s worse, we have no way of testing the truth of their claim that it is right. Since we have no way of testing the truth of their claim, they keep insisting that they are right since we don’t hae the answer.

    According to the scientific process, we should consider 9 if someone suggests it and 4. Although 9 is wrong, it is a possible answer that someone can use evidence to show the validity of. That’s the key! The answer someone gives needs to be testable and thus falsifiable.

    That is EXACTLY why Matt mentions universe farting pixies. Both him and the caller supplied an answer outside the set of possible (Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ). Both answers are equally absurd. The caller doesn’t get to declare victory because his answer is untestable because Matt can’t declare victory either.

  19. Devocate says

    @12:
    ” I think another way of putting it is, suppose that chessboard starts existing at t=10s, and stops existing at t=10s. It’d “exist” for 0s. It wouldn’t blink in/out, it just wouldn’t ever manifest.”

    Unfortunately, time is more complicated than that. (or perhaps fortunately). Anyway, Photons, traveling at the speed of light, experience exactly zero time. They are moving through the space dimensions so quickly, that they can’t move at all through the time dimension (as one way to look at it). They do, however, manifest. They are also not existing ‘outside’ of time. Photons do take time to travel from OUR reference frame. Go ahead wrap your head around that, I’ll wait. :-)

  20. Michiel Helvensteijn says

    I often wish I was there during conversations like the one about time, just to facilitate communication between the caller and the host, because I feel like they were talking past each other on at least two levels (and this happens quite often).

    On the higher level: You can write down a game of chess on paper, using consecutive numbers (and space for additional diagrams and notes) to represent time. There are countless books with famous chess games in them, not requiring ‘actual time’ to represent those games. A ‘snapshot’ contains all information.

    On the lower level: Can something ‘exist’ without time? That seems like a matter of semantics. There is only confusion there because of the ambiguity of the English language. Caller and host were simply operating under different definitions of ‘exist’.

  21. says

    With regard to the very popular notion that death is (or may be) analogous to birth:

    John correctly noted that in death, the human corpus undergoes a rather distinctive shift in “state,” whether via cremation, decomposition, mummification, and so on. One characteristic of that shift in state is the total cessation of electrical activity that can result in the characteristics we normally associate with life—movement, thought, etc.

    But this change in state does not result in the disappearance or eradication of the physical elements that made up the now-deceased corpse. Ditto for the birth of a human: the fetus that emerges from the caller’s described “darkness” into life on earth is manifestly composed of the same physical stuff (though obviously not the exact same molecules) as the future 8-year-old, teen, middle-aged person, aged human and, in the end, the decomposed body.

    The same cannot be said for some entity that exists prior to the fertilization that physically created the fetus. Likewise, after death, if there is some sort of continuity, it is not physical. For the record, I’m with Twain on this: I don’t recall the billions of years before my birth and I fully expect to have no awareness of what happens after my death.

    In other words, the caller’s analogy fails.

    And since I mentioned fetuses, and Donald Trump has just reconfirmed that he will appoint anti-abortion SCOTUS appointments:

    I’ve always found the idea of a pro-life atheist curious, at least pre-viability.

    Despite the claims of some (including the late, great Ray Bradbury), humans do not seem to have any awareness of life prior to birth. Prior to viability—any chance of survival outside the womb—the incipient person is entirely dependent on its mother; it could survive outside the womb no more than the mother’s pancreas, for example.

    Some people have zeroed on on the notion of “fetal suffering.” There is indication that fetal nervous systems can “feel,” even at fairly early stages. Those fetuses, of course, don’t have what you might call “independent awareness” of that suffering. But most people are perfectly willing to accept the manifest suffering of animals raised for consumption in hideous factory farms (approximately 99 percent of American pork—not hyperbole—is raised in such conditions; these animals have the intelligence of 3-year-old humans, at minimum).

    Taking the above two notions, it’s logical to conclude—and many pro-lifers will openly assert—that opposition to abortion isn’t really about awareness or suffering, though such things do evoke powerful emotional responses. It is, rather, about the idea that human beings are “ensouled” from the moment of conception, and that is the “sin” in terminating fetal life, even pre-viability.

    In other words, it’s a religious matter. Indeed, there is nothing close to consensus among religions—even Western religions—about what constitutes “life” and the morality of abortion. Given that, it strikes me that the right to pre-viability abortion is in fact a First Amendment issue—no “right to privacy” needed.

  22. Murat says

    Does a frozen moment count as “time”? Or need we know of what preceding or following it?

    Think of a chess board after the 27th move. The pieces may have ended up where they “now” are as a result of not one certain flow of, but of one among a possibility of different flows of moves.

    And it just stays there, frozen. Players may have been long gone.

  23. Michiel Helvensteijn says

    @Clay Bonnyman Evants:

    Hear hear!

    I’ve also heard the argument that aborting a fetus, unlike a pancreas for example, is a ‘potential human being’, and that the ethical distinction is to be found there. But taking that to its logical conclusion, using a condom also causes potential human beings not to exist. So does not donating all your sperm.

    PS: Have you watched the debate between Matt Dillahunty and pro-life atheist Kristine Kruszelnicki?

  24. Devocate says

    @19: “But taking that to its logical conclusion”

    That isn’t the logical conclusion. The distinction is between a potential *different* human being and not. A pancreas isn’t a different human being. Neither is a sperm or egg. A fertilized egg, is. Given that there is a continuum from that fertilized egg to a human being, what we need to do is decide when it gets the benefit of the rights we ascribe to human beings. Viability is a slippery slope, pro-choice people probably don’t want to peg their morality to. When we develop a method for incubating a fertilized egg, do they want to be financially responsible for that fertilized egg (since it is a viable human)?

  25. Murat says

    @32
    I had watched this debate some months ago. She does have a point there. Using a condom can not be considered as the same thing because it’s just one of the agents that can (thru a process) end up in what she calls a “potential human being”.
    An appendix or a pancreas can not be classified as the very same thing with a fetus in that respect.
    That was a good debate with both sides having logical bases for their stands.
    Had Matt been advocating “abortion” and not “choice”, Kristine could have made a stronger point. But she was “pro-life” whereas Matt was “pro-choice” (and not “pro-death”).

  26. Michiel Helvensteijn says

    @Devocate:

    The pancreas thing was an unrelated point. The rest of my comment was just to counter the “causing a potential human being not to exist” argument. There is also a continuum from having unprotected sex (or donating sperm) to a human being. So if causing a potential human being not to exist is unethical then, logically, NOT having unprotected sex as often as possible is also unethical.

    To put that in different words: Why is conception the magic moment that divides the ethical from the unethical? I don’t see a big difference between using a condom and using a morning-after pill. That distinction seems to be purely a religious one (i.e., a soul enters the equation at the moment of conception).

  27. itsmejre says

    #8
    Vielleicht war es das, was er auf etwa ging?

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/abstract-objects/
    However, some abstract objects appear to stand in a more interesting relation to space. Consider the game of chess, for example. Some philosophers will say that chess is like a mathematical object, existing nowhere and ‘no when’—either eternally or outside of time altogether. But that is not the most natural view. The natural view is that chess was invented at a certain time and place (though it may be hard to say exactly where or when); that before it was invented it did not exist at all; that it was imported from India into Persia in the 7th century; that it has changed over the years, and so on. The only reason to resist this natural account is the thought that since chess is clearly an abstract object—it’s not a physical object, after all!—and since abstract objects do not exist in space and time—by definition!—chess must resemble the cosine function in its relation to space and time. And yet one might with equal justice regard the case of chess and other abstract artifacts as counterexamples to the hasty view that abstract objects possess only trivial spatial and temporal properties.

    Should we then abandon the non-spatiotemporality criterion? Not necessarily. Even if there is a sense in which some abstract entities possess non-trivial spatiotemporal properties, it might still be said that concrete entities exist in spacetime in a distinctive way. If we had an account of this distinctive manner of spatiotemporal existence characteristic of concrete objects, we could say: An object is abstract (if and) only if it fails to exist in spacetime in that way.

    One way to implement this approach is to note that paradigmatic concrete objects tend to occupy a relatively determinate spatial volume at each time at which they exist, or a determinate volume of spacetime over the course of their existence. It makes sense to ask of such an object, ‘Where is it now, and how much space does it occupy?’ even if the answer must sometimes be somewhat vague. By contrast, even if the game of chess is somehow ‘implicated’ in space and time, it makes no sense to ask how much space it now occupies. (To the extent that this does make sense, the only sensible answer is that it occupies no space at all, which is not to say that it occupies a spatial point.) And so it might be said:

    An object is abstract (if and) only if it fails to occupy anything like a determinate region of space (or spacetime).

  28. Michiel Helvensteijn says

    @Murat

    I don’t see any logic in Kristine’s point in that debate. Here’s what I said in a YouTube comment 10 months ago:

    “””””
    Kristine’s argument seems ridiculous from the start, when she hinges everything on “[whether] the unborn is a human being” (19:24).

    I was like: “Wait… what? Surely she is not just going to argue terminology here. Surely she will unpack this condition into “the unborn’s capacity to experience pain”, or “its potential to lead a full life”, or some other reasonable criterion.“

    But no. She is actually letting this depend on what the medical dictionary says. “Human being” is such an arbitrary condition. She doesn’t care about the suffering of animals? What if we evolve into a new species? What if we discover an intelligent (and friendly) alien species? Would abortion be acceptable for them, but not us?

    Her arguments also come close to being vulnerable to the reductio ad absurdum: If we are not constantly copulating, is that the same as ‘aborting’ those potential human beings that will now not be conceived? She would probably deny this implication, but then: What is so special about the moment that the sperm meets the egg? The moment it becomes ‘human’?
    “”””””””””

  29. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Clay Bonnyman Evans #30:

    the fetus that emerges from the caller’s described “darkness” into life on earth is manifestly composed of the same physical stuff (though obviously not the exact same molecules) as the future 8-year-old, teen, middle-aged person, aged human and, in the end, the decomposed body.
     
    The same cannot be said for some entity that exists prior to the fertilization that physically created the fetus.

    Fun trivia: Taking the “physical stuff” even farther back, that particular egg was almost certainly formed while what would be mom was a part of grandma.

  30. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    While it might have to do with Trump’s win, it’s unlikely. Idiots were there before, were calling before, and they would’ve been here regardless of the outcome of the elections.

    This isn’t coming from Trump supporter, but you can’t just blame it all on Trump’s win.

    Trump’s victory is indeed merely a symptom of a social problem that has been building for decades, and which is rooted in the racism of American history that goes back at least 250 years.

    However, Trump’s recent victory seems to have emboldened the racists. They now believe that it’s socially acceptable in public to be horrible and racist. That is directly caused by Trump’s election win. In some ways, we’ve set back cultural progress by perhaps 30 years.

  31. Murat says

    @37
    What is the unborn, then, if not a human being?
    I don’t necessarily see a fallacy in her approach to the issue. I’m against the suffering of animals and I hate people who force pregnant animals to abort their unborn just so they can have rare quality fur to sell. In the example of that practice, the aborted fetuses are animal beings, just as aborted children are / were human beings.
    I’m not saying that abortion should be banned or something, I’m just trying to reach the better definition of what a human being is. Even if a baby is to be aborted, that should be done with the understanding that it’s not an appendix or an infected part of an organ, but it is (as she put in in that discussion) “a human being”…
    I won’t pretend to know more about the issue than I do, nor do I advocate for what is caled “pro-life”, but yeah, those fetuses that women should have the right to abort ARE, at least after they have developed in there for many months, human beings; and it makes more sens to say that they are “human beings with potential” than to say “potential human beings” simply because the latter can be read as if they could become something other than a human being after a point.
    And about your final question in the comment:
    “What is so special about the moment that the sperm meets the egg? The moment it becomes ‘human’?”
    Well, I guess the following question answers the first. Yes, a meeting of the sperm and the egg is something special. Even if a pregnancy is going to be terminated, there was a new human (at least on the way) and I think anyone involved in the choice should well be aware of that.
    What I fail to understand is how the argument could change if we postponed the point of being named “human” to a later stage, such as birth, or first birthday, or age 5? What is so special about any other possible point in time? The meeting of the egg and sperm and the result developing into a fetus seems pretty convincing to me as a point to start calling the formation “human”. (What’s so special about being human, anyway?)
    I don’t think the discussions on abortion can lean on one side or the other with the usage of basic logic. Ethics, morals, statistics, psychology etc all have roles in that.
    That discussion had made me feel that, had Matt been female and Kristine male, they could simply switch positions. She wasn’t making less sense, she was just sad for not having given birth and had regrets about this.

  32. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat
    Is a brain-dead body on life support a person? I certainly don’t think so. Same goes for a fetus without an activated EEG. What makes a point in time special? The same point in time when your brain dies for good…the failure of the EEG. That brain wave is what separates a corpse from a person.

  33. Murat says

    @41
    I have never thought if a brain-dead body should be considered a person or not. I just don’t know. Both can be argued.
    But there’s a grave (pun intended) difference between the brain-dead body and the fetus: Their future!
    It’s not the same “point” in time, it’s the same “status” of existing, for the period of time mentioned.
    The fetus without an activated EEG is very much likely to have one, whereas the brain-dead is not gonna have that.
    Even if the fetus is not a person with regards to that certain “status”, it’s on the way to “become” one, whereas the brain-dead has “ceased to be” one.
    I may be ok with considering an activated EEG as an indication of getting or losing the state of being “human”, but still, the brain-dead & the fetus are on the opposite sides of their life spans, so, that weakens EEG as a criteria in a discussion on abortion.

  34. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat

    I just don’t know. Both can be argued.

    I disagree very strongly. Everything that makes me “me” dies with my brain. There’s no controversy in that statement.

    But there’s a grave (pun intended) difference between the brain-dead body and the fetus: Their future!

    Here’s the difference: I don’t care, and it’s extremely dangerous to think this way. All that matters in these kinds of decisions is the present. I mean, any given sperm could become a person in the future, so should masturbation be a crime? Should women be imprisoned if they menstruate because their eggs can no longer become people? Most fertilized eggs do not become people. The vast majority don’t, actually.

  35. John Iacoletti says

    How did this turn into a thread about abortion? In my opinion, the issue isn’t what the fetus is, but rather where the fetus is.

  36. Murat says

    @43
    I think there’s a consensus on considering either the time when combination of the egg and the sperm occurs, or at least some months after that, as the point of becoming human. Separete eggs and sperms are just like urine. Throw ’em away.

    “All that matters in these kinds of decisions is the present.” – This statement may turn the table on us in case we’re going through a stage that may be returnable from. So many weird illnesses, conditions, reactions…

    Imprisonments & legal accusations were mere theoretical concerns on that debate and they were chasing the real point away.

    I don’t think the discussions on abortion are really connected to theism or atheism; it’s just that through decades religious people have grown interest on the issue and formed some sort of dogmatic approach on it. Christianity does not care more about human life than it does about equality.

    Women should have the right to have abortions, but I believe there better be some sort of process (not necessarily a legal one, more like a pre-therapy maybe) to make sure they won’t regret it.

  37. Murat says

    #44
    Sorry, John. I had replied to #32 and it just went on.
    I’m not sure I understand you regarding the distinction of “where” the fetus is… Do you mean that the embryo is a person only after it’s out of the mother’s body?

  38. says

    @John Iacoletti

    First, John, I have to say how much I appreciate your velvety voice and calm, rational approach on the show—I’m being 100% serious, here.

    I was the one who introduced the abortion question, after addressing the fallacy (IMO) that birth and death are somehow comparable above.

    But I think I sufficiently noted concerns about “where” the fetus is, in suggesting that pre-viability (and yes, I am aware that that could become a mighty slippery slope), it must be considered part of the mother’s body, I think.

    I also want to reiterate that different religions have distinctly different views on when a developing human “becomes” human. My main point was to suggest—and I stand by the suggestion—that this is a religious issue, and therefore a First Amendment matter, no argument about “right to privacy” needed.

  39. Michiel Helvensteijn says

    @40 (Murat)
    *

    What I fail to understand is how the argument could change if we postponed the point of being named “human” to a later stage, such as birth, or first birthday, or age 5? … The meeting of the egg and sperm and the result developing into a fetus seems pretty convincing to me as a point to start calling the formation “human”.

    My whole point was that it doesn’t matter what label we give a fetus and when. That’s why Kristine’s whole approach was dubious. I wouldn’t make such a big deal about it if she wasn’t making such a big deal about it.
    *

    In life we have a certain understanding of how the universe works, and we have certain basic goals. Our ‘job’ is to live life in such a way that it brings us closer to those goals. Using names for things (like ‘person’ or ‘human being’) is just a tool that helps us process abstract concepts and communicate them to others. If, during a debate, the definition of a word is unclear or in dispute, the correct course of action is to ‘unpack’ both possible definitions and communicate on a lower level of abstraction. That’s the only way to reach the core of a complex issue. (For what it means to ‘unpack’ a definition, I can recommend no better video than this Blackadder clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfZRwILOJFE)
    *

    I’ve come to suspect that the majority of disagreements hinge on a failure to follow that rule. People just talk past each other. They think they disagree about something important while, in fact, they only disagree about what the dictionary should say. For example, this was the case for the “does existence depend on time” discussion.
    *

    But in this particular abortion debate, Kristine managed to commit this fallacy all by herself. She said things like: “Abortion is not a problem… if the fetus is not a human being.” and “This and that physiology textbook says that a fetus is a human being because it is made out of human cells.”.
    *

    I would argue that the authors of those medical textbooks were operating under a different definition for ‘human being’ than Kristine. Her use of the term is about consciousness and human rights. Their use was about DNA. Also, it doesn’t help that by hammering on that term she excludes animals, intelligent aliens and artificial intelligence, while including people who are brain-dead or suffering horribly.
    *

    That’s why I would have unpacked the term ‘human being’ to get to the core of the ethical dilemma. And I tend to go with Sam Harris’s “The Moral Landscape”. Morality has to do with increasing the well-being and reducing the suffering of conscious creatures. In so far as a fetus is not conscious, they don’t yet qualify.
    *

    Yes, a meeting of the sperm and the egg is something special. Even if a pregnancy is going to be terminated, there was a new human (at least on the way) and I think anyone involved in the choice should well be aware of that.

    But by the same logic you can come to the same conclusion about using condoms, i.e., “The moment the sperm leaves the penis is something special. (pause for a laugh… moving on) Even if you use a condom, there could have been a new human (at least on the way) and I think anyone involved in condom-use should well be aware of that.”

  40. says

    Also, arguments about potentiality are non-starters, for me. Sure, the developing fetus is now a “potential” human being, but absent some idea about the sanctity of the “soul” or other similar concept, why is that even meaningful? First, as we know, nature “aborts” many developing fetuses and there is no outcry. Second, since we have zero information about what kind of human the fetus might become—a boring accountant, a murderous killer, a saintly volunteer—this is just more religious posturing, since it places a holy aura around every potential human.

  41. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat

    Women should have the right to have abortions, but I believe there better be some sort of process (not necessarily a legal one, more like a pre-therapy maybe) to make sure they won’t regret it

    While I understand your intent, this falls on deaf ears to a progressive American. Women in this country already have to suffer all sorts of bullshit in order to get an abortion and I recommend you read up on this before you make someone go nuclear on your ignorance. In a bunch of states, they have to drive several hundred miles (because lots of clinics have been closed due to laws requiring them to basically be hospitals), have multiple doctor’s examinations, have an unnecessary vaginal probe done, walk through hordes of terrorists outside the clinic…

    Because Roe v. Wade still stands, lawmakers in this country have done their level best to prevent women from exercising their rights. It’s a more extreme version of voter ID laws; they disenfranchise people to serve an agenda under the guise of “safety.”

  42. Michiel Helvensteijn says

    @44 (John Iacoletti)

    How did this turn into a thread about abortion?

    I’ll take my share of the blame for that. Are long threads frowned upon?

    In my opinion, the issue isn’t what the fetus is, but rather where the fetus is.

    I assume you’re making the same argument Matt did in his debate with Kristine, i.e., “A fetus may have basic human rights, but it does not have the right to use the mother’s body against her will.” I think that’s a valid argument, but only part of the whole picture, and not the most persuasive part. What the fetus is still seems quite important. And leaning on the where argument feels a bit like dodging the more difficult questions.

  43. Murat says

    #50
    Umm, are we necessarily talking about stuff based on their immediate and / or cultural references in the USA?
    My statement was about women in general, be they in Bengladesh, Sweden, Iran or elsewhere; that’s why I didn’t use any particular cultural codings and kept the statement vague in that respect.
    I have met several women who have had abortions (one was an American); and each had very different approaches. And I also knew someone with whom I was in touch while she was expecting, and later heard she had had an abortion after consenting with the husband and deciding they couldn’t economically be ok after a second child at that time. I know from common friends that she has experienced something more traumatic than expected, and for a longer time than I’d imagine.
    We may not care about when to call the fetus what, that’s ok… But for some women who go through (or, fail to go through) that thing, it IS a big deal, yes…

  44. John Iacoletti says

    I’m not sure I understand you regarding the distinction of “where” the fetus is… Do you mean that the embryo is a person only after it’s out of the mother’s body?

    Well, legally yes. But that’s beside the point. I don’t care if it’s a 40-year-old stockbroker, it doesn’t have the right to use another person’s body against her will.

  45. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’ll take my share of the blame for that. Are long threads frowned upon?

    I’ll defer to John, but the way it’s always worked here in the past is that as long as the conversation is interesting, and honest, then most everyone here tolerates the conversation and/or enjoys it, no matter the topic.

    IMHO, perhaps John was just expressing surprise, ala “how did that happen?”, and not necessarily disapproval.

    John, am I correct? Again, I defer to you, because your place, your rules.

  46. RationalismRules says

    @Michiel Helvensteijn #29 The written chess game is still a sequence, so ‘before’ and ‘after’ still apply – concepts which are entirely contingent on time.

  47. Murat says

    #53
    Well, ok, I get the point about people having the right to refuse “hosting” any other creatures. But I think the main difference between a 40-year-old stockbroker and a fetus is that the latter has no idea that it’s using a host body, nor that it may be violating any rights. I saw the emphasis on Kristine’s point of view to be mostly about that aspect of pregnancy as differing from an all-adult hostage situation.
    By the way, how did you know I was a 40-year-old stockbroker??? So out of the blue & right on the money that you gave me the chills!…
    (No I’m not, just kidding) 😉

  48. RationalismRules says

    @Murat #45

    Women should have the right to have abortions, but I believe there better be some sort of process (not necessarily a legal one, more like a pre-therapy maybe) to make sure they won’t regret it.

    There is no process that can ensure that someone does regret a choice after the fact. Very few choices are ever made with total certainty, we doubt ourselves, we question the wisdom of our past actions. It’s part of the human condition.

  49. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat

    But I think the main difference between a 40-year-old stockbroker and a fetus is that the latter has no idea that it’s using a host body, nor that it may be violating any rights

    While that might sound nice in people’s heads, it’s utterly irrelevant to the issue. Flat-out. Bodily autonomy needs to be a heavily protected right, and I think this should be apparent.

  50. itsmejre says

    Das ist, bis ein Frauenkörper nicht benötigt wird, um einen Menschen zu bilden. 22 Wochen ist die aktuelle Schwelle für die Lebensfähigkeit außerhalb der Gebärmutter.

  51. Kafei says

    At 37:16, John comments that he’s had Nirvana, and refers to emotional state while witnessing a sunset. Matt claimed that callers call in all the time claiming that LSD or DMT could potentially cause spiritual or mystical experience. Haven’t they’ve gotten the news? There has been peer-reviewed studies published in the Scientific Journal of Psychopharmacology that claim that entheogens such as DMT or psilocybin do, in fact, have the potential to produce what these scientists are referring to as “mystical experience.” There’s been myriads of studies done with inducing mystical experience via psilocybin in pill form at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, and there’s another one taking place currently that anyone reading this could potentially sign up for. Mystical experience is definitely not simply an emotional reaction to witnessing a sunset, but rather a very particular altered state of consciousness which has been reported in all major religions. Buddhists call it Nirvana, Christians refer to it as the Beatific vision, and Hindus call it samadhi, etc. This is often grotesquely overlooked on this show by the entire staff hosts and co-hosts, and it’s probably because they’re all unfamiliar with these type of experiences or even this type of research on mystical experience which have been going on for decades.

    At 33:37, Matt claims he often gets e-mails from people claiming they can induce mystical experience with DMT. Matt also claims that he’s taken LSD, and believes he’s had similar experiences. I truly doubt this based on what he says mocking this sense of unity that has been well documented within these type of experiences. The clinical trials currently taking place at Johns Hopkins with psilocybin use essentially an equivalent to what Terence McKenna called the “heroic dose.” This is necessary to induce mystical experience. Matt sounds more like he had a recreational experience with LSD, not a full-blown psychedelic experience which are necessary for inducing mystical experience. The studies at Johns Hopkins claim that psilocybin mimics naturally occurring mystical experience, meaning this particular altered state of consciousness doesn’t necessarily have to occur by use of a psychedelic, but can be induced naturally through disciplines such as meditation or asceticism, etc.

  52. Monocle Smile says

    @Kafei
    DMT and psilocybin are “ignored” on the show because they don’t matter at all the topic. They have jack shit to do with gods. It’s all just brain chemistry and altered brain states. The terminology of “mystical” is loaded and it’s ignorant of scientists to use it.

    Also, “reports” don’t mean shit until you can back them up with fMRI results that produce the same patterns between all these “experiences.”

    I realize that this is your pet obsession, given your gratuitous posts on several AXP youtube videos on this and exactly nothing else, but this is boring and pointless, really.

  53. Kafei says

    DMT and psilocybin are “ignored” on the show because they don’t matter at all the topic. They have jack shit to do with gods. It’s all just brain chemistry and altered brain states. The terminology of “mystical” is loaded and it’s ignorant of scientists to use it.

    Also, “reports” don’t mean shit until you can back them up with fMRI results that produce the same patterns between all these “experiences.”

    I realize that this is your pet obsession, given your gratuitous posts on several AXP youtube videos on this and exactly nothing else, but this is boring and pointless, really.

    It’s not my pet obsession, by the way. It’s something that is never emphasized on The Atheist Experience. and yes, they are, in fact, very relative to the topic at hand. I’m sure there’s very good reasons they chose to use this term “mystical experience,” but I do admit, unless you’re familiar with how they’re using it, it can be misleading. However, it is a term that has been used to describe experiences reported throughout all the major religions, and while it was once defined as union with the divine or absolute, in the studies it has been specifically defined as a very particular altered state of consciousness which does, in fact, exhibit characteristics that are universal to mystical experience. There has been work on psilocybin with fMRI, and there are more studies taking place in the UK using fMRI. You see, “mystical experience” can potentially be seen as evidence for a Perennialist perspective, and it is often articulated in that fashion by people involved in the studies such as Roland Griffiths, James Fadiman, or even individuals such as the famous psychedelic artist, Alex Grey, who takes full-spectrum doses of a particular psychedelic, and attempts to paint those visions seen in the state after returning to the baseline of consciousness.

    I don’t believe Matt’s familiar with Perennial philosophy. I’ve never heard him mention it in a single lecture, but this isn’t necessarily a theist, atheist or even agnostic point-of-view, but an altogether different way of looking at religion. Perennialists view that the underlying common factor of religion are individuals undergoing mystical experience. This is a phenomenon in consciousness that most people, atheists and theists alike, aren’t familiar with. So that Muhammad, Jesus, Gautama, etc. were simply mortal human beings, human as you and I, who sometime in their lifetime had a mystical experience, perhaps several, and that influenced each of these individuals to become a founder of a religion. Even the famous atheist, Sam Harris, has considered this. It’s a potential experience in every one of us, it’s simply most people have never taken a massive dose of a psychedelic or practice disciplines such as meditation or austere asceticism. I’d wager that you, yourself, have nowhere in your personal history to draw from to relate to such an experience, and therefore make these type of ignorant comments.

  54. Murat says

    I don’t know if anyone here is familiar with the work of Jan Kounen, but his take on adapting a famous European graphic novel series to cinema -though was a flop economically- had one of the most carelessly amazing plots ever as he interpreted the approach of Carlos Castaneda and sank his narrative deep into what naturally comes with magic mushrooms.
    I value this movie not only for the extremely stylish visual approach, but more for its self-destructive commitment to exploring how the brain works and which elements influence it through what kinda process. Those of you particularly interested in possible effects of LSD and else might wanna see it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0276830/

  55. John Iacoletti says

    Kafei – I never claimed to have experienced “Nirvana” — I don’t even know what that is, apart from Kurt Cobain’s band. I was talking about having a feeling of connectedness or awe and not attributing anything external or supernatural to it.

    And I think you’re generally missing the point. I acknowledge that people can have what they describe as “mystical experiences” by altering their brain states via chemicals or sleep or various physical techniques, but that’s not evidence for any objective physical reality or a universal “truth” or any truth at all. It’s just evidence that the brain and perceptions can be altered. And it’s not at all remarkable that different humans can alter their brains in a similar fashion. Human brains are physiologically similar.

  56. John Iacoletti says

    But I think the main difference between a 40-year-old stockbroker and a fetus is that the latter has no idea that it’s using a host body, nor that it may be violating any rights.

    I don’t think it’s a relevant difference. If you have no idea you are trespassing on somebody’s property you are still trespassing and you can be removed.

  57. Murat says

    Re: #66

    Isn’t the introduction of the term “property” into the discussion of abortion a bit dangerous? As seen in previous posts, the logical bases referred to on this issue are tested with theoretical follow-ups. Can a mother claim to have certain rights on her kid based on the notion that “it grew on HER property” for example?

    If we approach the argument in a way to involve that term, it can backfire on a different topic like the teaching of creationism. As you guys (including Aron Ra) have advocated many times on the show, “a kid’s right to learn the facts” is what should matter, and not parents’ “right to bring the kid up as they wish”.

    If that was just a metaphor and the word “property” was not a way of actually registering the womb, you can discard this objection totally. I just happen to think that some arguments on abortion open gateways to how people can evaluate other stuff, creating spots of quicksand on the ground of logic that we refer to.

  58. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat
    Way to completely misunderstand the point of the analogy. You seemed to recognize this at the end, but it was blitheringly obvious from the start. John’s point is that ignorance of the law is irrelevant.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish. I will say that yes, I’m extremely US-centric in this discussion, because I don’t know what the laws are like in other countries and this is the country I care about the most. On a side note, it irritates me sometimes when people from outside the US complain about things the show says, because about 99% of the time, they are talking about American issues, which should come as no surprise at all.

    My ire earlier stems from you saying “well, there should be some kind of therapy before women get abortions to make sure they won’t regret it” when women in the US are pretty much being subjected to physical and psychological torture before they can get an abortion. It just comes across as misinformed and insensitive.

  59. Murat says

    @MS

    You’re wrong about one thing: They’re not talking about American issues 99% of the time on the show. You feel it’s so because you’re accustomed to the American versions of the very same discussions that are ongoing in other parts of the world.

    For example, “secularity” finding (or, lacking) a stronghold in education as opposed to indoctrination is a global issue. On the show, naturally, they focus on examples from the USA. But be sure that the very same discussions, dangers and conservative tricks are witnessed in many other countries, and sometimes even quite simultaneously.

    I’m sorry if my quoted statement about some extra check before abortion has touched a nerve for anyone. I was just trying to say that some other statements may also work the other way, as I believe has with Kristine, who was on that debate with Matt.

    And, as a side note: I’m not trying to “accomplish” anything. Just “writing out loud” some thoughts, if you will…

  60. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat
    You misunderstand.
    What I mean is that the hosts talk about issues (that may or may not be global) in the context of how they apply to our country. For instance, voter ID laws. Clearly the talk on Sunday was just about voting in the US. Abortion, gay marriage, church-state separation…yes, these are global issues, but the hosts almost always talk about them in an American context. What bothers me is when some European goes off on the hosts because things are different in their home country. Not that you’re one of these people necessarily, but it happens pretty often.

  61. Kafei says

    @John Iacoletti said:

    I never claimed to have experienced “Nirvana” — I don’t even know what that is, apart from Kurt Cobain’s band. I was talking about having a feeling of connectedness or awe and not attributing anything external or supernatural to it.
    And I think you’re generally missing the point. I acknowledge that people can have what they describe as “mystical experiences” by altering their brain states via chemicals or sleep or various physical techniques, but that’s not evidence for any objective physical reality or a universal “truth” or any truth at all. It’s just evidence that the brain and perceptions can be altered. And it’s not at all remarkable that different humans can alter their brains in a similar fashion. Human brains are physiologically similar.

    Well, your phrasing was vague. You said, “That may have been what Oscar was getting at when he said ‘Nirvana’.” Then, you said, “I look at that as an emotional state.” I even time-stamped a link to it. Maybe that’s your perspective on what you think Nirvana is as oppose to the original Buddhist definition. Anyway, that’s aside from the point as you completely missed my point.

    No one involved in these studies of mystical experience is arguing that mystical experience is evidence of the supernatural or a physical reality or anything of that sort. Of course, human brains are physiologically similar, and so it’s not surprising that each one of us can engage very similar altered states. However, what’s often overlooked is that, sure we can all have some alcohol, and feel drunkenness very similarly, but this phenomenon in consciousness these scientific studies have dubbed “mystical experience” is an experience most people have not had whether they’re atheist, theist or agnostic, etc. There isn’t simply this intuitive appreciation of a sunset or a conceptual understanding of how Matt said “we’re factually connected” and gave sort of a description of how the sun nourishes plants, how our atoms come from stars, etc. The impression in mystical experience is not simply this conceptual understanding Matt’s talking about, but a powerful more intuitive impression that all that exists is ultimately a unicity, an inseparable whole that is intimately interconnected. That is the core feature of mystical experience. If anyone is looking for a further definition of mystical experience, I recommend this link as Roland Griffiths, the leader of this research on mystical experience takes the time to define it a bit more concretely than done in this episode of The Atheist Experience.

    Now, once one is familiar with this phenomenon in consciousness, one could recognize it within all the major religions. Mystical experience has been eloquently described in scripture, hymns, religious concepts such as Brahman in Hinduism, Beatific vision in Christianity, etc. There is numerous techniques found throughout all religion to induce mystical experience as in the quietism practiced by Christian mystics or the innumerable meditative techniques riddled throughout eastern religion. The stories of the founders of the major religions elude to altered states. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, shivering in his cave then receives a divine vision which is quite akin to a classical shamanic method of inducing mystical experience, St. Paul on the Damascus Road encounters a blinding light which completely alters the direction of his life, the Egyptians used a cornucopia of visionary plants such the hallucinogenic blue water lily and the ancient Egyptian “tree of life” has been recently identified as the Acacia nilotica, a tree which is rich in DMT alkaloids, and so forth and so on if you go back to the source of any of the great religions, you are going to find individuals engaging these particular type of altered states of consciousness.

    This perspective is Perennial philosophy, and it’s not necessarily arguing for the Santa Claus deity that atheists reject, but in this view; God, Brahman, nirvana, satori, samadhi, etc. are metaphors to describe the inner impression of mystical experience. So, it’s not necessarily a theist, atheist, or agnostic point-of-view, you see, but an alternative view altogether. You spoke about “truth,” and often mystical experience has been characterized by insight within all the major religions. If you consider the core feature of mystical experience, you can ultimately overlap it with what contemporary physicists are talking about with M-theory which implies a multiverse which is through all its vastness light-years in expanse, separated by perhaps infinite universes each with its own set of physical laws, etc. are ultimately all one.

  62. Monocle Smile says

    @Kafei
    Again…who cares? I’ve seen you post near-identical screeds ad nauseum on AXP youtube videos, like I said before.

    God, Brahman, nirvana, satori, samadhi, etc. are metaphors to describe the inner impression of mystical experience

    The believers in the pews almost to a man don’t subscribe to this, so why should this be of any note?

    If you consider the core feature of mystical experience, you can ultimately overlap it with what contemporary physicists are talking about with M-theory which implies a multiverse which is through all its vastness light-years in expanse, separated by perhaps infinite universes each with its own set of physical laws, etc. are ultimately all one

    Deepak Chopra says what? You are boring. Go away.

  63. John Iacoletti says

    What Oscar was describing what not the Buddhist concept of Nirvana either, so I was attempting to understand what he was actually describing rather than just labeling it. But yes, this is all word salad. So different people in different cultures have all experienced mind-altered states. That doesn’t demonstrate that there is any actual useful insight to be attained, nor does it mean that they are experiencing any common universal truth, which is what Perennial philosophy purports. It doesn’t even mean that they are having a common experience. Many humans have dreams about flying. Does that imply that there is some universal insight to be gained from that? If you want to take a mystical feeling that you get when you alter your brain (whatever you decide to call “mystical”) and then give it an ambiguous label like “God”, “Brahman”, or “nirvana” then be my guest. But I don’t see how that adds to our understanding of reality or even of how the human brain works.

  64. John Iacoletti says

    Murat – do you realize how patronizing and offensive it is for you to decide that women can’t make their own reproductive decisions without you requiring that they first have some kind of therapy to make sure that they don’t regret it? You don’t think they’re capable of making their own informed decisions without your “help”?

  65. Murat says

    Re: #74

    Check my statement again, John.

    I didn’t pose as an authority and “require” anything. What I wrote was this, and only this:

    “Women should have the right to have abortions, but I believe there better be some sort of process (not necessarily a legal one, more like a pre-therapy maybe) to make sure they won’t regret it.”

    Don’t I think they are capable of making their own informed decisions without my “help”?

    I never mentioned myself as someone in a position to “help”, either. But let me reply to that: I can not know who among any group of people to undergo any kind of medical operation is capable of making their own decisions and who not. Gender is irrelevant to the concern behind that remark. It’s about psychology. I remember one uncle reaching a decision about a risky surgery only after talking for days with anyone he could, and even if that helped nothing else (we lost him the next year due to inevitable complications) had made him more confident and in the mood while and after undergoing it. Plus, I know that the hospital procedures for anyone to undergo any kind of operation is (almost anywhere in the world) different for people who are going through post-traumatic stress syndrome (which, closing in on the subject matter, can be the outcome of a rape).

    I already mentioned in #52 my limited (but, existing) third party observations on the issue, and as I explained there, I know at least one person who might have gone through this better and with less damage had she had more of a consultancy (among friends or family or whomever) before making the very same decision.

    What you say makes it sound like I approach the issue as an insensitive alpha male or something to that effect who is trying to have a say on a decision that is only for women to make. I think this is just another example of my statements getting mixed up among previous remarks by others who may have used similar wording to make a totally different point.

    Let me remind you that, when this thread began, I said that I had watched that debate some months ago, and that I had found both Matt and Kristine to have reasonable ground for their approach. And I still think the same. Both had held their positions, and even though my current stand on this is “pro-choice”, Kristine’s approach did hang a few questions on my mind.

  66. Kafei says

    John Locelotti said:

    What Oscar was describing what not the Buddhist concept of Nirvana either, so I was attempting to understand what he was actually describing rather than just labeling it. But yes, this is all word salad. So different people in different cultures have all experienced mind-altered states. That doesn’t demonstrate that there is any actual useful insight to be attained, nor does it mean that they are experiencing any common universal truth, which is what Perennial philosophy purports. It doesn’t even mean that they are having a common experience.

    To say that you don’t know how “mystical experience” adds to our understanding of reality or how the human brain works is simply a close-minded and ignorant comment. If these issues did not truly matter, and no one cared as Monocle Smile has mocked, then we wouldn’t have all these studies currently taken place on these specific altered states of consciousness. What Perennial philosophy is saying is that the mystical experience lies at the root of the major religions of the world; that when you scratch all the major religions what you’re going to find is individuals engaging these very specific type of altered states of consciousness. Altered consciousness has always offered deep insights into the human mind. Neuroscientists have learned lots from neurological conditions, accidental brain damage, lobotomies, etc. And now the investigation of mystical experience is shedding light on all these topics; the origin of religion, the nature of consciousness, etc. Alan Watts once said, “The inability to accept the mystical experience is more than an intellectual handicap. Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination.”

    Monocle Smile said:

    The believers in the pews almost to a man don’t subscribe to this, so why should this be of any note?

    Of course not, most theists, and even atheists, have not had this type of experience. So, yes, the average Christian church today might find “mystical experience” a irreverent concept, although ironically it’s the very experience that prompted the religion in the first place. Christian mystics that lived c. 100 A.D. referred to this altered state of consciousness as “Christ consciousness.” Hesychasm emphasized the mystical experience, it was an intrinsic part of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but as the practitioners were attacked by individuals such as Barlaam of Seminara, this was a common reaction to those who engaged a direct exprience towards the divine. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake, John Scotus Eriugena was excommunicated, Meister Eckhart theses were condemned and so on and so on. A few mystics got away with it because they used cautious language, but eventually direct experience would be reserved for the church hierarchy, the pope, the priest, etc. and so then the priest became middle-man for God, and the possibility of mystical experience for every individual eventually was completely squeezed out of the picture. To even mention it today in a contemporary Christian church would be regarded as blasphemy. So, it’s not that theists necessarily subscribe to such a perspective, it’s more that most theists, even atheists, have not had such a phenomenon in consciousness occur, and so aren’t what sure exactly what to think about this or even what to “subscribe to.”

    John Loceloti said:

    Many humans have dreams about flying. Does that imply that there is some universal insight to be gained from that? If you want to take a mystical feeling that you get when you alter your brain (whatever you decide to call “mystical”) and then give it an ambiguous label like “God”, “Brahman”, or “nirvana” then be my guest. But I don’t see how that adds to our understanding of reality or even of how the human brain works.

    Your “dreams about flying” example I feel is a false analogy. Sure, there’s insight to be gained from dreams, and often people when they’re dreaming of flying, they’re having a lucid dream, and there’s a great deal to be learned there, but I believe you underestimate the mystical experience with these terms that have only become mundane or vague for yourself, such as Nirvana or Brahman. In other words, let’s say you give an atheist N,N-DMT to vape, and he has a full-blown psychedelic experience, and then returns to the baseline of consciousness and is asked to describe this experience. Now, because he’s an atheist, he might not use “God” as a metaphor to describe the experience as a religious person might feel inclined to do, but he may say something equally absurd or profound such as, “It felt as though I was somehow able to glimpse a higher dimension.” Now, the atheist may not particularly believe that he literally glimpsed a higher dimension, but nevertheless the experience was such that no other metaphor would suffice to describe the inner impression of this experience, and people often use these terms. Rick Strassman noted that many people inclined towards using phrases such as “beyond dimensionality” or “4th-dimensional” when describing these states of mind. There is an impression of timelessness which is often reported, and so an atheist opting to use such language to describe the experience is not surprising.

    The Perennialist perspective sees the mystical experience as the driving force within the individuals who were responsible for the founding of the major religions. What Perennialism purports is the universal mystical experience which lives at heart of each religion has been rediscovered in each epoch by saints, sages, prophets, and philosophers. These include not only the ‘founders’ of the world’s great religions but also gifted and inspired mystics, theologians, and preachers who have revived already existing religions when they had fallen into empty platitudes and hollow ceremonialism. So that what an atheist who’s had this type of experience might metaphorically describe as “a glimpse of hyperspace,” a person who lived thousands of years ago who had this type of experience would lean towards a religions language and describe this experience as Brahman, samadhi, nirvana, God, etc. This very experience in early man may have been what prompted such words as God, soul, or spirit to be born in the first place. I posted a link earlier of the famous Sam Harris who has also considered this point-of-view, and I’ll post that link once more here.

  67. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Kafei
    I’m lost. I agree that it’s an interesting question for neuroscientists and anthropologists. However, it has no bearing on the overwhelmingly common factual claims of religious adherents, such as claims about the existence of gods, angels, demons, an afterlife, etc. In short, a vast majority of religious adherents would disagree with your characterization of religion, and I have a pet peeve when someone outside a movement tries to define “what the movement is” in a way that is contrary to how people inside the movement define the movement.

  68. Monocle Smile says

    @Kafei
    Alan Watts said an awful lot of stupid shit. He was Deepak Chopra before the word “quantum” was slung around. I don’t give a shit about what Watts said and I don’t see why anyone else should, either.

    You didn’t answer the question at all. Read EL’s post. This is a topic of interest for neuroscientists, but when I ask “who cares?” I’m referring to the people here who are concerned about religious claims about things that manifest in reality. You’re once again using this forum as another dumping site for your boring copypasta.

    For the record, you’ve posted scant “facts” about the history of religion and you are so far from demonstrating your claims about how all religions were founded that you’re not even in the same solar system. You don’t seem to fundamentally understand how to prove things; you’re just concerned with babbling about your obsession (and yes, it IS an obsession).

  69. John Iacoletti says

    I don’t know who John Locelotti is.

    What you’re not getting is that phrases such as “beyond dimensionality” or “4th-dimensional” or “Christ consciousness” or “a glimpse of hyperspace” are just as much empty platitudes as anything else. It’s an attempt to impose universal meaning on something that has no universal meaning. You’re altering your brain and you’re feeling its effects. Putting fancy cryptic words on top of it or entire cults and rituals around it don’t change that. There’s nothing at all close-minded about expecting you to actually demonstrate (not just claim) that your “mystical experience” adds to our objective understanding of reality.

  70. Kafei says

    EnlightenmentLiberal said:

    I’m lost. I agree that it’s an interesting question for neuroscientists and anthropologists. However, it has no bearing on the overwhelmingly common factual claims of religious adherents, such as claims about the existence of gods, angels, demons, an afterlife, etc. In short, a vast majority of religious adherents would disagree with your characterization of religion, and I have a pet peeve when someone outside a movement tries to define “what the movement is” in a way that is contrary to how people inside the movement define the movement.

    I would also stress as I’ve done in previous posts that a vast majority of religious adherents have become completely disconnected from direct experience. So, what western religion is peddling is high abstraction, a series of concepts which require you to believe based on “faith,” and so their whole notion of reality is heavily distorted into these various concepts, and each Christian or Jehovah’s witness then understands their religion through the lens of their own individual eisegesis. It’s sort of remained intact in eastern religion in that mystical experience is the very goal of the religion. So, for example, I distinguish between a Buddhist and a Buddha. A Buddhist is someone who is still seeking enlightenment. A Buddha is someone who has experienced enlightenment or mystical experience.

    So, I’m not necessarily defining “what the movement is” in a way that is contrary to how people inside the movement define the movement. I’m saying that Christianity and other forms of western religion have for the most part lost touch with direct experience, and has become the contorted nonsense it is today. So that your gods, angels, demons, an afterlife, etc. become abstract anthropomorphized concepts within the gullible mind of the Christian rather than terms or metaphors that originally described the Beatific vision, the mystical experience as expressed through the lens of Christianity. I believe as Graham Hancock once said is that once bureaucracy got into the picture, then religion became a tool of control, and it’s quite clear today if you live in places like the U.S. or the U.K.

    @John Iacoletti said:

    What you’re not getting is that phrases such as “beyond dimensionality” or “4th-dimensional” or “Christ consciousness” or “a glimpse of hyperspace” are just as much empty platitudes as anything else. It’s an attempt to impose universal meaning on something that has no universal meaning. You’re altering your brain and you’re feeling its effects. Putting fancy cryptic words on top of it or entire cults and rituals around it don’t change that. There’s nothing at all close-minded about expecting you to actually demonstrate (not just claim) that your “mystical experience” adds to our objective understanding of reality.

    Well, mystical experience is potentially evidence for a Perennial philosophy. That’s one way it can add to our objective understanding of reality. However, the studies have also shown that people come out more humble, they strive to become greater versions of themselves, become more patient, and there’s other beneficial attributes that have been researched and studied. And I disagree about these terms being “empty platitudes.” Rick Strassman noted in his book “DMT: The Spirit Molecule” that his volunteers which he had given intravenous N,N-DMT often would come back with these metaphors. I don’t think people are attempting to “impose universal meaning on something that has no universal meaning,” as you said, but rather they’re attempting to articulate the inner impression of this particular experience.

    There are characteristics to this experience that are universal to anyone who undergoes a mystical experience, and one characteristic is the impression of a timelessness. Often people will have this impression in the experience, and so will often reach for metaphors such as “beyond dimensionality” or “fourth-dimensional.” You see, it’s not because these people are attempting to “impose universal meaning,” but they’re attempting to articulate the inner experiential impression of the this particular altered state of consciousness.

    This impression of timelessness or a transcendence of space and time has been well documented, and this type of research has been published in peer-reviewed studies. I posted a link earlier of Roland Griffiths going over the universal characteristics of mystical experience, and here it is once more.

    @Monocle Smile said:

    Alan Watts said an awful lot of stupid shit. He was Deepak Chopra before the word “quantum” was slung around. I don’t give a shit about what Watts said and I don’t see why anyone else should, either.

    You don’t have to necessarily care about what Watts said, but he did speak from a Perennialist perspective, and gave plenty of lectures on it such as this one here where he starts off talking about the “Oceanic feeling” which was Romand Rolland’s term for mystical experience. He introduced a lot of eastern concepts to a western audience, and has plenty of insightful talks on the net. If anyone’s interested in eastern philosophy, I definitely recommend the work of Alan Watts.

    @Monocle Smile said:

    You didn’t answer the question at all. Read EL’s post. This is a topic of interest for neuroscientists, but when I ask “who cares?” I’m referring to the people here who are concerned about religious claims about things that manifest in reality. You’re once again using this forum as another dumping site for your boring copypasta.

    No, I’m not. I was a caller in recent May 1st episode with Tracie and Russell. I tried to bring this research and its implications to their attention, and they hadn’t heard about it. Tracie happened to agree with everything I said. The only quarrel they had was that if it truly implicated a Perennialist perspective. Here’s a link to the YouTube clip where they take my call.

    @Monocle Smile said:

    For the record, you’ve posted scant “facts” about the history of religion and you are so far from demonstrating your claims about how all religions were founded that you’re not even in the same solar system. You don’t seem to fundamentally understand how to prove things; you’re just concerned with babbling about your obsession (and yes, it IS an obsession).

    I could post more thorough facts if you thought what I provided was scant. The only reason I’m keeping it brief is because I don’t want walls and walls of text to discourage anyone from engaging in a discussion. It’s not really an obsession as it more so is frustrating in that all the episodes of The Atheist Experience, this has never been addressed. I believe it may be because no one on the staff of all the hosts and co-hosts have direct familiarity with these type of altered states. Graham Hancock once challenged Richard Dawkins to try ayahuasca. He said he’d do it under the care of professionals, but has yet to this day had anything beyond the “God helmet.” I doubt Richard Dawkins practices any discipline such as meditation that would induce this experience naturally.

    What exactly do you want me to prove? All I’ve done essentially is point people to research that has taken place the past few decades, and the implications of those studies. I don’t believe I have to prove the mystical experience, because the culmination of that research has done just that. The more recent studies done with psilocybin have been peer-reviewed and published in the Scientific Journal of Psychopharmacology. I’ve said that the mystical experience can be potentially viewed as an evidence for a Perennialist perspective. In Perennial philosophy, we of course don’t have the fMRI of Christ’s brain or Gautama, but what it highlights is accounts of mystical experience riddled throughout scripture in all the major religions; it emphasizes techniques utilized to induce mystical experience, and in shamanism and perhaps in other religions as in the Eleusinian mysteries in Greek religion, the use of entheogens to induce mystical experience.

  71. Monocle Smile says

    @Kafei

    The only reason I’m keeping it brief is because I don’t want walls and walls of text to discourage anyone from engaging in a discussion

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I’m gonna need a drink.

    It’s not really an obsession as it more so is frustrating in that all the episodes of The Atheist Experience, this has never been addressed

    Oh, my fucking shit. WHY SHOULD AXP CARE? You’ve been asked this over and over and over again and haven’t done anything but post more giant screeds. It doesn’t matter one shit if you happen to be correct about religion being “disconnected” because it doesn’t change the fact that the vast, vast majority of believers don’t subscribe to your philosophy. You called in once and put the idea in, but apparently if the show isn’t devoted to your pet philosophy every week, you get butthurt. Do you have a point?

    I’m saying that Christianity and other forms of western religion have for the most part lost touch with direct experience, and has become the contorted nonsense it is today. So that your gods, angels, demons, an afterlife, etc. become abstract anthropomorphized concepts within the gullible mind of the Christian rather than terms or metaphors that originally described the Beatific vision

    You can’t actually demonstrate this and you’re again talking about small sects in the history of christianity. And once again, it doesn’t matter. Why is this so hard to understand? Do you not understand the point of the show?

  72. Kafei says

    I’m still lost. What’s your point? What do want the show to address?

    This alternative Perennialist view from atheism, theism, agnosticism that has been arising out of the studies of this particular altered state these scientific studies have dubbed “mystical experience.” It’s been discussed in Michio Kaku’s recent book “The Future of the Mind,” Alex Grey often speaks about it on his art tours (he’s the psychedelic artist famous for painting the visions seen in the trance), and people are becoming more and more aware of the shamanic techniques to induce these states as with ayahuasca or psilocybin. However, when Matt gives a talk on a topic like “personal experience” or when this topic comes up in the show, it’s never mentioned. In this very episode, he mentions that he gets tons of e-mails on a regular basis of people telling him that N,N-DMT is capable of inducing “mystical experience.” Then he tries to claim the he’s experimented with LSD, believes he has mystical experience, but denies this impression of “oneness” within the mystical experience which is essentially the core characteristic of mystical experience as emphasized by Roland Griffiths, and here’s the clip.

    You see, most atheists reject the monotheistic Santa Claus-like God. The God as supernatural entity that watches everything you do, and punishes or rewards you when you die. So, God is sort of defined as this anthropomorphic conceptual entity that is omniscience, omnipotent, etc. So, God is rejected on the basis by God of the Gaps, lack of so-called “evidence” for God, whatever that would be, etc.

    In Perennialism, God is not viewed as an entity, but is instead a metaphor to describe this inner particular altered state. I believe this is a perspective that is growing in our culture in the very same way that atheism, although it still is very much a minority, is on the rise.

    Monocle Smile said:

    Oh, my fucking shit. WHY SHOULD AXP CARE? You’ve been asked this over and over and over again and haven’t done anything but post more giant screeds. It doesn’t matter one shit if you happen to be correct about religion being “disconnected” because it doesn’t change the fact that the vast, vast majority of believers don’t subscribe to your philosophy. You called in once and put the idea in, but apparently if the show isn’t devoted to your pet philosophy every week, you get butthurt. Do you have a point?

    Well, I’ve already mentioned that the reason the vast majority of believers don’t subscribe to such a philosophy is because they’ve already lost connection with mystical experience. It’s still taught and spoken about in Orthodox Christianity, but nothing beyond that. In other words, none of these techniques that induce mystical experience, such as quietism, are practiced. As I’ve said, it’s all high abstraction now. And I’m not butt-hurt, by the way. Russell wasn’t familiar with psilocybin, mystical experiences, or Perennial philosophy, at least Tracie was somewhat aware. However, if you watch the clip, Russell ends with the stereotypical “Cool story, bro” response to these type of ideas and that’s even often the attitude towards this type of research involving something like psilocybin.

    What’s the point? I have many, like the very language we use to speak about these things is tainted, ambiguous, devoid of its original meaning, etc. Most atheists seem to have this dualistic mindset of either God exists or God doesn’t exist which doesn’t allow them to see this alternative view where Perennial philosophy isn’t a theist, atheist or even agnostic position, but rather a perspective on religion that views mystical experience as the root at the heart of all the major religions. So, God is then transformed from that perspective not as this Sky Daddy that George Carlin made fun of, but as a metaphor used to describe the inner impression of the mystical experience. That these attributes that described the God entity were actually originally used to articulate the mystical experience; words like omniscience, omnibenevolence, omnipresence, etc.

    For instance, it’s not an intellectual omniscience such that you can be asked any question at the height of the experience and give an answer like where your car keys are, but rather comes in the form of a very powerful intuition of interconnectedness. This is the core feature often reported as a sense of complete unity with all people and things. There is heightened emotion such that you could feel as though the entire world is emotionally asleep. In Christianity, this is referred to as agapé, the love felt by Christ that was not sexual in nature but spiritual or if you don’t like the word spiritual, then maternal. It is described in the Bible as infinite, unconditional, ever-forgiving and without judgement, and this could potentially manifest in a mystical experience. People report very often an overwhelming love for all things; just as in the ’60s and ’70s people who took LSD and believed they were Christ. I believe it’s because they took these things in a culture which at the time these things were done without preparation and recklessly, and so if you’ve got Christian views, and you have a mystical experience via some LSD someone sold you on the street, you could potentially interpret it in such a way and risk being locked up in an asylum which, in fact, did happen to some people.

    However, the point is as I mentioned to EnlightenmentLiberal is that it is a perspective that people are considering in our culture; I mentioned that Kaku has written about it in his most recent book, that even Griffiths and Jim Fadiman, the individuals leading these studies on mystical experience do, from the vantage point of being aware of mystical experience, consider a Perennialist perspective. Somehow, The Atheist Experience hasn’t caught wind of this perspective that is arising out of all of these studies. Perhaps they’ll eventually address it. I mentioned on my first post that there’s a clinical trial currently taking place right now. Perhaps they’ll even go as far as to challenge themselves to have the experience in the first place instead of purely intellectually considering it.

    If you truly consider this perspective, then you have a culprit for the very notion of God. While this show has got some theists to consider their position, some of them even to adopt atheism, they still are only left with agnostic atheism which says I don’t believe, but I don’t necessarily know. Perennialism offers an alternative to secularist approach to religious phenomena that is backed by neurotheology, neuroscience, psychology, etc. Instead of the dozens and dozens of mundane arguments between theists and atheists today asking for evidence for an imaginative entity. What we need is a paradigm shift, not a rehash of old arguments.

  73. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Kafei
    “Perennialist view”
    Thank you for that term, so I could look it up. If you ask most Christians and Muslims what they mean, they don’t mean that. You’re talking about something other than religion as I’m familiar with the term. In seems that you’re trying to redefine the term in order to save face, or offer credibility or respect to religious believers. I don’t care what you have to say at all. I suspect no one else here cares either.

  74. Kafei says

    EnlightenmentLiberal said:

    Thank you for that term, so I could look it up. If you ask most Christians and Muslims what they mean, they don’t mean that. You’re talking about something other than religion as I’m familiar with the term. In seems that you’re trying to redefine the term in order to save face, or offer credibility or respect to religious believers.

    I’m not redefining the term. “Perennialist view” is an abbreviation from Perennial philosophy. It’s not a new concept. It goes back into the Traditional School of Thought, further back into Neoplatonism, and perhaps even further than that if you consider Shamanism. Perennial philosophy until the early 1800s originally defined “mystical experience” as the union with the divine or the Absolute. Nowadays, mystical experience is understood as a very particular altered state of consciousness. So, if a volunteer in one of these studies undergoing a mystical experience, and then describes it as “meeting God;” the scientists in the study will consider this an articulation of the inner impression of the experience, not that this personal has literally met God. However, religious people who have this experience often reach for such metaphors as God or Christ, etc. However, that’s not to say an atheist doesn’t come back with a more secular description. Of course, we can say altered state, however I’ve witnessed an atheist come down from N,N-DMT and describe it as, “It felt as though I was somehow able to glimpse a higher dimension.” That’s not to say this particular atheist literally believed they glimpsed hyperspace, but that this was the only metaphor that would suffice to describe the inner experiential quality of that particular experience. Terence McKenna once described it as a “Niagara of alien beauty.” It is a colossal altered state of consciousness which is often articulated as non-dual, as having the impression of transcending space and time, etc. It is essentially a phenomenon in consciousness that most people, theists and atheists alike, have not experienced, and so that’s why it’s so peripheral in our culture.

    EnlightenmentLiberal said:

    I don’t care what you have to say at all. I suspect no one else here cares either.

    That’s fine, it’s quite obvious you’ve never had such an experience. Like I said, most people haven’t. William James once said, “While the revelations of the mystic hold true, they hold true only for the mystic; for others, they are certainly ideas to be considered, but can hold no claim to truth without personal experience of such.” However, I don’t think it’s necessarily that people don’t care. However, you’re only referring to yourself and Monocle Smile; perhaps even John Lacoletti. What about all the people involved in the research of this phenomenon in consciousness or individuals who’ve actually had a mystical experience or the influence in our very culture where even Hollywood stars are visiting Peru to use ayahuasca. There’s a global awakening happening right now, and I believe more and more people are becoming aware of these topics and their implications and how these sort of concepts and perspectives could potentially change the way we view religion altogether even for the atheist and theist if they can consider it. Not to mention the studies and research that continues to build as we contribute to this dialogue.

  75. Monocle Smile says

    @Kafei
    You can’t be serious.

    What’s the point? I have many, like the very language we use to speak about these things is tainted, ambiguous, devoid of its original meaning, etc. Most atheists seem to have this dualistic mindset of either God exists or God doesn’t exist which doesn’t allow them to see this alternative view where Perennial philosophy isn’t a theist, atheist or even agnostic position, but rather a perspective on religion that views mystical experience as the root at the heart of all the major religions. So, God is then transformed from that perspective not as this Sky Daddy that George Carlin made fun of, but as a metaphor used to describe the inner impression of the mystical experience. That these attributes that described the God entity were actually originally used to articulate the mystical experience; words like omniscience, omnibenevolence, omnipresence, etc

    Nothing in that word salad added anything to my understanding.
    I asked you to demonstrate your claims that all religion started with this “mystical experience” and that this and only this is at the root of god concepts, but you constantly avoid doing so in order to preach. I mean, you’re just making shit up at this point and you are vastly, vastly overstating the popularity and impact of your pet philosophy. You don’t understand skepticism nor the point of the show.

    Perennialism offers an alternative to secularist approach to religious phenomena that is backed by neurotheology, neuroscience, psychology, etc. Instead of the dozens and dozens of mundane arguments between theists and atheists today asking for evidence for an imaginative entity. What we need is a paradigm shift, not a rehash of old arguments

    No. There’s reality and then there’s bullshit. This constitutes a true dichotomy. I don’t give a fuck about the stoner version of Thomism where you babble for millions of words about nothing because you like the sound of your own voice.

    While this show has got some theists to consider their position, some of them even to adopt atheism, they still are only left with agnostic atheism which says I don’t believe, but I don’t necessarily know

    That you think we should discard this and instead assert knowledge where none exists makes you no better than a religious zealot. Your epistemology is fucked.

  76. Monocle Smile says

    @Kafei

    William James once said, “While the revelations of the mystic hold true, they hold true only for the mystic; for others, they are certainly ideas to be considered, but can hold no claim to truth without personal experience of such.”

    William James didn’t know anything about anything. “Subjective truth” is utter garbage. This is the antithesis of valid epistemology. Why would I want to have a debilitating experience like this? Nothing about what you describe seems enjoyable. Will it make me faster? Will it grant me superhuman powers? What’s the point?
    Regardless, you STILL STILL STILL haven’t mentioned why this is relevant to the show, because the show is about atheist outreach and discussing beliefs with theists, not getting high at Woodstock.

  77. Kafei says

    Monocle Smile says

    Nothing in that word salad added anything to my understanding.
    I asked you to demonstrate your claims that all religion started with this “mystical experience” and that this and only this is at the root of god concepts, but you constantly avoid doing so in order to preach. I mean, you’re just making shit up at this point and you are vastly, vastly overstating the popularity and impact of your pet philosophy. You don’t understand skepticism nor the point of the show.

    I never claimed such a thing. I’m not trying to convince you that Perennialism is, in fact, the case. That’s what you seem to be confused about. What I’m saying is that this perspective is being considered today based on these studies of mystical experience. Perennial philosophy is essentially a body of work that highlights by exegesis accounts of mystical experience recorded in scripture through all the major religions, it emphasizes techniques such as meditation or asceticism to induce mystical experience, and also the underlines the various entheogenic complex utilized in various cultures throughout the world to induce these type of altered states. That’s all out there for people to Google, they don’t have to take my word for it.

    Monocle Smile says:

    No. There’s reality and then there’s bullshit. This constitutes a true dichotomy. I don’t give a fuck about the stoner version of Thomism where you babble for millions of words about nothing because you like the sound of your own voice.

    I’m not babbling, I’m attempting to give a more descriptive explanation because I know for a fact you haven’t clicked any of my links based on your brief close-minded retorts. However, it would make sense why a lot of this would sound like a word salad to you, but that’s simply because you’ve nowhere in your personal experience to draw from to relate to such an experience. What the mystical experience essentially shows someone is a mental universe that they not only never thought existed, but they could not have thought to exist. It defies expectation, and although these studies take time to attempt to define the common characteristics of these experiences, words still seem to be insufficient. This experience is often referred to as ineffable, nevertheless people still attempt to describe it. So, that’s one of the major obstacles in talking about the mystical experience, especially to those people who’ve not had such an experience.

    Another point I’d like to make is this isn’t necessarily a “stoner” point-of-view as you used in your criticism, because as these studies have clearly indicated, the mystical experience that is occasioned by psilocybin mimics naturally occurring mystical experience that occurs via meditation, asceticism or other techniques. It’s also speculated to occur in the near-death experience. Thomas Aquinas, by the way, is believed to have had a mystical experience.

  78. Kafei says

    Monocle Smile says:

    William James didn’t know anything about anything. “Subjective truth” is utter garbage. This is the antithesis of valid epistemology. Why would I want to have a debilitating experience like this? Nothing about what you describe seems enjoyable.

    I never said it was enjoyable. Just listen( <— Link! ) to Amber Lyon's description of her ayahuasca experience she had in Peru.

    Will it make me faster? Will it grant me superhuman powers? What’s the point?

    People, of course, use it for different reasons whether it be for spiritual or psychological insight. Amber Lyon, if you checked out the link, sought it because she was suicidally depressed, and felt it was her last hope. For Amber, it completely relieved her of anxiety to the point where she doesn’t even experience anxiety anymore. For certain people, certain answers will be answered forever, but I think ultimately what a lot of people come back with is peace of mind.

    Regardless, you STILL STILL STILL haven’t mentioned why this is relevant to the show, because the show is about atheist outreach and discussing beliefs with theists, not getting high at Woodstock.

    It’s very relevant to the show. We’re not talking about getting high at Woodstock, necessarily, as I’ve already explained this is an experience that is hard-wired into our species, and that has occurred throughout history in various cultures throughout the world. It’s simply that psychedelics just so happen to mimic an experience that can potentially happen naturally.

  79. Monocle Smile says

    @Kafei

    I’m not trying to convince you that Perennialism is, in fact, the case

    Then we’re done here. My last shred of interest just vanished. Go away.

  80. Kafei says

    Kafei says:

    I’m not trying to convince you that Perennialism is, in fact, the case.

    Monocle Smile says:
    <blockquoteThen we’re done here. My last shred of interest just vanished. Go away.

    If you were paying attention, you would have realized that in my first post. So, your response doesn’t necessarily argue or dismiss this perspective. While Perennialism is nothing new, the difference now is we’re now building a neurotheology, a scientific framework to define these type of altered states while previously it had only been spoken about in the context of religion. However, I will maintain that mystical experience is the most convincing evidence for a Perennialist perspective.

  81. KK_Me says

    Great show!
    I loved the last call and I truly feel for the guy. When you are searching for answers nothing is more frustrating than to find out that the supposed experts on the field of religion don’t have satisfactory answers, sometimes they even never asked the questions. Church is ill equipped to deal with those who seek truth honestly.

    Also: MATT, when talking about time said: “a second or minute or light year…”. Light year is a unit to measure distance, not time.

  82. John Iacoletti says

    @Kafei – I don’t know who John Lacoletti is either. Seriously, is it that hard to get somebody’s name right?

    Well, mystical experience is potentially evidence for a Perennial philosophy

    What does that even mean? Something is either evidence or it’s not. So far I’m not seeing any evidence here.

    The only quarrel they had was that if it truly implicated a Perennialist perspective

    That’s a pretty fundamental quarrel! This is pretty much your entire thesis.

    In Perennialism, God is not viewed as an entity, but is instead a metaphor to describe this inner particular altered state.

    What is the point? Seriously, what is the point in calling an altered brain state “God”, other than just to muddy the waters? Just so you can believe in a god too? What’s wrong with just calling it what it is?

    Look, if you want to do drugs and mess with your brain, knock yourself out. Just don’t pretend that it’s really anything more than that.

  83. Kafei says

    @Kafei – I don’t know who John Lacoletti is either. Seriously, is it that hard to get somebody’s name right?

    Okay, John Iacoletti. I apologize. I thought that may have been a lowercase “L.” So, your last name begins with a capital “i,” correct? The capital i and lowercase L look very similar on this font.

    What does that even mean? Something is either evidence or it’s not. So far I’m not seeing any evidence here.

    Because I’m not sure we can call mystical experience definitive evidence quite yet. We’re still learning about the nature of mystical experiences. What Perennial philosophy does as I’ve mentioned, essentially, is emphasize mystical experience within all the major religions through exegesis of scripture, hymns, techniques such as meditation or asceticism, entheogens used to induce such experiences, etc. We don’t necessarily have the mummy of Christ or Gautama’s fMRI, but the more we learn about mystical experience, I believe, the more it becomes quite an apparent and intrinsic part of the major religions. As I’ve said before, in the Perennialist POV, if you scratch all the major religions down to their roots, what you find is individuals engaging these type of altered states of consciousness which these studies have referred specifically to as mystical experience.

    “What is the point? Seriously, what is the point in calling an altered brain state “God”, other than just to muddy the waters? Just so you can believe in a god too? What’s wrong with just calling it what it is?

    You see, you’re still missing the point altogether. We’re not trying to muddy the waters here with the use of this term “God,” but instead trying to choke out ambiguity. I’ll explain, If a religiously influenced person as a volunteer has a mystical experience via a psilocybin pill given to them in one of these clinical trials happening at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, and they describe it as “meeting God,” then the scientists involved in the study do not literally believe that this volunteer has literally met God, but rather interpret the volunteer’s description as an articulation of the inner impression of this particular type of experience. What they have confirmed is that certain characteristics that are often described, such as the core feature of this experience of unity or complete oneness or the powerful impression of having the experience of timelessness; often people have the impression that they’ve transcended space and time. These are well-documented characteristics that are universal to mystical experience.

    Now, why Perennialism is an implication of mystical experience is because then, once you recognize the potential for mystical experience, it’s quite easy to see that a person living thousands of years ago who has this experience may naturally reach for religious metaphor to describe such an experience, if not use, then even invent it, and this has been highlighted in Perennial philosophy within the founders of the major religions, and mystics throughout the ages. In other words, for instance, in Hinduism, the term “samadhi” is essentially a term that is used to describe what these scientific studies are referring to as “mystical experience.” So, it’s conceivable through the Perennialist perspective that samadhi was a neologism in India to describe this particular altered state.

    Look, if you want to do drugs and mess with your brain, knock yourself out. Just don’t pretend that it’s really anything more than that.”

    Well, I hope that explanation suffices as at least the beginning of a dialogue, I know I’m going to probably need to elaborate, but this isn’t an argument for theism, because I noticed you said, “Just to believe in a God, too.” And it’s not necessarily atheism per se, because it isn’t necessarily rejecting a God. I believe it’s an alternative view altogether, because mystical experience is seen as the source for the nascence of religion, and God, Brahman, nirvana, samadhi, etc. become metaphors that were used to describe the inner experience of this phenomenon in consciousness. But that’s not to say that a God exists, like this is evidence for the Santa Claus God that George Carlin made fun of, I believe that would be entirely missing the point. Neither is that to put the mystical experience on some kind of special pedestal, because I believe what these studies are clearly showing is that the mystical experience induced by psilocybin is precisely identical to the mystical experience one can engage naturally by practicing disciplines such as meditation or asceticism. So, you don’t necessarily need a “drug to mess with your brain” in order to have this experience. To even say it that way seems to put down the fact that this experience is hard-wired into us. Dr. Rick Strassman speculates that because we possess N,N-DMT in the human pineal gland, then perhaps what meditation may be is a natural induction of our own body’s endogenous tryptamines.

    It’s no secret that some of these entheogens have been used for thousands of years. I believe Hinduism and Buddhism are in a way religions that have obsessed over this altered state as to have this experience is the very point in these religions. Alan Watts has pointed out in Christianity, Jesus was pedestalized as the one appointed individual to undergo such an experience, and so that precludes the possibility for the experience for anyone else, and perhaps why for the most part, Christianity as it’s practiced today has completely lost touch with this experience and has contorted itself into this sort of accumulation of abstract intellectual nonsense. It’s somewhat still emphasized in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but not so much practiced. In the Hindu view, anyone can potentially undergo samadhi and be liberated, but even in India, it’s sort of practiced in this lax fashion where you might consider yourself a Hindu because you born to an Indian family that practiced it as a tradition, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve experienced samadhi or had the mystical experience, you see. I’d wager that even in Buddhist temples where monks dedicate themselves to these disciplines, it’s also a rare happening. Well, I know I sort of went off into a tangent there, but I was attempting to elaborate on how these things are viewed in a Perennialist perspective, and also to emphasize that this experience is completely natural; it’s a very particular altered state that we all have the potential to experience, and that seems to be what may have prompted the major religions in the first place. It’s simply that most people, atheists, agnostics, theists, etc. all alike, have not had such an experience.

  84. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    […] I know I’m going to probably need to elaborate, but this isn’t an argument for theism, because I noticed you said, “Just to believe in a God, too.” And it’s not necessarily atheism per se, because it isn’t necessarily rejecting a God. I believe it’s an alternative view altogether […]

    And this is why none of us care about what you have to say. What you wrote is borderline incoherent. It’s not right. It’s not even wrong.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

    Either there is a god, or there isn’t (or the term “god” is not sufficiently well defined to admit an answer).

    In practical terms, either someone accepts as true that there is a god, or they don’t, whether they’re unsure, undecided, other kinds of agnostic, or convinced that there are no gods.

    There is no “third option” to either of the two dichotomies. When you say “it isn’t necessarily rejecting a God”, you are fundamentally redefining the word “god” in order to suit your agenda. You’re taking a perfectly reasonable term (IMO), and giving it a radically different meaning, a meaning which is contradictory with the meaning that 99% of all religious people I know would give. That’s not productive. It’s also not honest.

    This is why we’re in “not even wrong” territory. You’re playing games with words. It’s intellectually dishonest. It’s as if it’s purposefully designed to cause confusion on both sides, for no actual gain of clarity nor knowledge nor understanding, etc.

    Don’t redefine the word “god”. You can describe your position just fine without butchering the English language. Ex: There is no god, and their religious experience is something to do with altered states of consciousness, which happens without needing to appeal to any gods nor demons nor spirits nor ghosts, etc.

    Your underlying position is fine. We all here strongly object to redefining religious terms, i.g. “god”, in order to suit your agenda, your apparent agenda of trying to save face of religious people. We here will have none of that dishonesty and needless sowing of confusion.

    PS: If you are not a Christian, please stop capitalizing the word “god”. Christians capitalize the word “god” because they use the word as a name and not a mere noun. The grammatical term is “proper name”. For example, names like “Bob” are capitalized, and mere nouns like “cat” are not capitalized. This is somewhat that a believing Christian would do, and it’s making me doubt your honesty even further.

  85. Kafei says

    EnlightenmentLiberal says:

    […] I know I’m going to probably need to elaborate, but this isn’t an argument for theism, because I noticed you said, “Just to believe in a God, too.” And it’s not necessarily atheism per se, because it isn’t necessarily rejecting a God. I believe it’s an alternative view altogether […]
    And this is why none of us care about what you have to say. What you wrote is borderline incoherent. It’s not right. It’s not even wrong.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong
    Either there is a god, or there isn’t (or the term “god” is not sufficiently well defined to admit an answer)

    When you say “none of us,” I’m not exactly sure who you’re referring to, ’cause like I said, this endeavor isn’t something sneered at, it’s actually taken quite seriously. This is precisely the dualistic mindset most atheists are trapped in, and that’s why they feel it should be addressed in such a way. “Either God exist or it doesn’t.” This means you defined God on your own terms, you’ve a preconceived notion of what God should be perhaps driven by the religions concepts you were influenced with, and therefore reject anything that doesn’t meet up to your own bias standard. Perennial philosophy does not attempt to re-define the word, but instead filters it through an altogether different perspective. It’s not “incoherent,” it’s simply interpreted in an alternative fashion.

    Don’t redefine the word “god”. You can describe your position just fine without butchering the English language. Ex: There is no god, and their religious experience is something to do with altered states of consciousness, which happens without needing to appeal to any gods nor demons nor spirits nor ghosts, etc.

    We don’t have to appeal to Gods or Demons, but when someone outside of the influences that would cause one to use such metaphors happens to say what this experience is like, even if they’re atheist, they might reach for something like, “It felt as though I was somehow able to glimpse a higher dimension.” In other words, nevertheless, whether the individual is religiously inclined or not, this experience will have them attempting to put the horse of English language through a lather in order to describe such experiences. However, what I believe people are overlooking is that individuals living thousands of years ago might have naturally leaned towards such explanations in attempting to describe this phenomenon of mystical experience.

    Otherwise, you’re arguing a faulty premise. You say “there is no God,” which is a positive claim of which you cannot scientifically back up for the very reasons I’ve explained.

  86. Simon & Mrs Wendy Hosking says

    While I’m not wanting to encourage Kafei – I think we’ve heard enough – I do think I know sort of where he’s coming from.

    His definition of ‘God’ is similar to the sort of new-age nonsense I believe in as I transitioned out of Christianity. I used a lot of magic mushrooms and a bit of LSD, and yes, there is a ‘Nirvana’ obtainable. A lot of the experiences I had simply can’t be translated into words, which I think may be part of the reason for Kafei’s word salad. They are profound and I think they might offer important ways to understand how people work.

    I don’t believe they offer any evidence for anything outside of the brain. As such they are fairly irrelevant to an Atheist show – but then anything outside of “I don’t believe there is sufficient evidence for belief in gods” is technically outside of an Atheist show in some regards. These ‘Nivana’ experiences (however you get them) feel profound. In the end they might just be brain farts but I understand the passion behind Kafaei.

    But having passion for something doesn’t make it real. There is zero evidence that these ‘Nivana’ states indicate anything outside our brain. There is even little evidence they are more than brain farts, but I’m still too moved by some of the experiences to write them off completely – even nearly 25 years later!

    – Simon

  87. Kafei says

    While I’m not wanting to encourage Kafei – I think we’ve heard enough – I do think I know sort of where he’s coming from.
    His definition of ‘God’ is similar to the sort of new-age nonsense I believe in as I transitioned out of Christianity. I used a lot of magic mushrooms and a bit of LSD, and yes, there is a ‘Nirvana’ obtainable. A lot of the experiences I had simply can’t be translated into words, which I think may be part of the reason for Kafei’s word salad. They are profound and I think they might offer important ways to understand how people work.
    I don’t believe they offer any evidence for anything outside of the brain. As such they are fairly irrelevant to an Atheist show – but then anything outside of “I don’t believe there is sufficient evidence for belief in gods” is technically outside of an Atheist show in some regards. These ‘Nivana’ experiences (however you get them) feel profound. In the end they might just be brain farts but I understand the passion behind Kafaei.
    But having passion for something doesn’t make it real. There is zero evidence that these ‘Nivana’ states indicate anything outside our brain. There is even little evidence they are more than brain farts, but I’m still too moved by some of the experiences to write them off completely – even nearly 25 years later!

    What I’m referring to is definitely not “new-age.” It often gets mistakenly associated with new-age or Chopra-esque concepts, but these experiences have been spoken about in the fashion I’m talking about now since the work of William James or Richard M. Bucke. I don’t think anyone is arguing that these experiences prove anything outside the brain or that the hallucinations seen in these altered states are “real” in the sense that they relate to something extant outside of the mind. I believe that is entirely missing the point. The point is that these experiences exist. That one can have the impression such that if they’re religious, they might be inclined to call it an encounter with the divine; if they’re atheist they might describe it as, “It felt as though I was somehow able to glimpse a higher dimension.”

    However, as I pointed out before, this atheist may not really believe that they’ve truly glimpsed hyperspace in a very literal sense, but nevertheless this metaphor is typically what one comes back with if they’re attempting to describe the inner impression of this phenomenon in consciousness. So, from the vantage point of Perennialism, for a person to have this experience thousands of years ago, it is not a surprise that they’d refer to it as “God” or “samadhi” or “nirvana,” etc. So, you see, this is not some ‘new-age definition for God.’ What Perennialism proposes is that individuals undergoing mystical experience can be found at the heart of every religion, and terms such as God, Brahman, Allah, etc. may have been neologisms born out of this very experience enunciated by mystics to describe the inner experiential phenomena of the mystical experience.

    So, this experience, Simon, that you say you’ve no words for is precisely what Perennialism highlights in people living thousands of years ago; to a person living millennia ago who attempts to pour words onto this so-called ineffable experience, then you have the nascency of a religious language and the founder of a religion.

  88. John Iacoletti says

    You say “there is no God,” which is a positive claim of which you cannot scientifically back up for the very reasons I’ve explained.

    Really, Kafei? Who said that? This is further evidence of your dishonesty in this discussion.

    Perennial philosophy does not attempt to re-define the word, but instead filters it through an altogether different perspective. It’s not “incoherent,” it’s simply interpreted in an alternative fashion.

    Ok, so I’m going to invent my own philosophy — let’s call it Defecationalist Philosophy — where I define that really good feeling you get right after you take a shit as “God”. This is a pretty universal experience which has been experienced by different people of different cultures and religions for millennia. There must be something really profound about it.

    The question remains, why?

  89. Kafei says

    John Iacoletti said:

    Really, Kafei? Who said that? This is further evidence of your dishonesty in this discussion.

    EnlightenmentLiberal said it in his example. I have not been dishonest. Where’s your evidence for that?

    Ok, so I’m going to invent my own philosophy — let’s call it Defecationalist Philosophy — where I define that really good feeling you get right after you take a shit as “God”. This is a pretty universal experience which has been experienced by different people of different cultures and religions for millennia. There must be something really profound about it.
    The question remains, why?

    Sure, you can mock the mystical experience, but this is precisely the sort of sneering criticism you hear out of people who’ve obviously never had a mystical experience, and therefore underestimate it and really don’t know what to make of it. And we are asking why. If this altered state were trivial, then I don’t think we’d invest any time scientifically investigating it, but there’s multiple studies taking place today, and have been for the past few decades. You could potentially sign up for the one happening in Baltimore, MD, right now, if you so wished. You’d have it in a therapeutic setting under proper medical care. Then, maybe you might finally challenge your perspective on religion. Roland Griffiths has spoken about the possibility of even starting a study recruiting confirmed atheists to engage a mystical experience. Maybe you might sign up for that one.

    At the end of that lecture I linked to, Roland Griffiths does ask, “Why?”

  90. Monocle Smile says

    @Kafei

    If this altered state were trivial, then I don’t think we’d invest any time scientifically investigating it

    *facedesk*
    The topic is of interest to neuroscientists because we’re always trying to figure out more about how the brain works. But beyond that context, I don’t see why anyone should give a shit. You really, really don’t understand our objections at all.

    Also, you avoided John’s direct question with a condescending Courtier’s Reply. Having this experience doesn’t actually increase our understanding of what the brain is doing any more than sticking a fork in a light socket increases our understanding of electricity and watching people babble incoherently for hours in Chopra fashion isn’t how we increase our knowledge base, either. You seem to think there are some epic philosophical revelations implied in this research, and you have yet to demonstrate anything noteworthy. The fact that religions, especially in the past, have had adherents subjected to these “mystical experiences” is, like you said about Russell earlier, “Cool story, bro” material. You seem to think this bit of trivia is somehow Earth-shattering. Get over it.

  91. Kafei says

    The topic is of interest to neuroscientists because we’re always trying to figure out more about how the brain works. But beyond that context, I don’t see why anyone should give a shit. You really, really don’t understand our objections at all.

    These studies don’t simply offer insight about the mind, but there’s a reason this scientific study has adopted the term “mystical experience” and that is because that term relates to these type of altered states that have been described throughout the major religions. So, it’d be dishonest to merely say that neuroscientists’ interest in this phenomenon solely because we’re trying to figure out more about how the brain works.

    Also, you avoided John’s direct question with a condescending Courtier’s Reply. Having this experience doesn’t actually increase our understanding of what the brain is doing any more than sticking a fork in a light socket increases our understanding of electricity and watching people babble incoherently for hours in Chopra fashion isn’t how we increase our knowledge base, either. You seem to think there are some epic philosophical revelations implied in this research, and you have yet to demonstrate anything noteworthy. The fact that religions, especially in the past, have had adherents subjected to these “mystical experiences” is, like you said about Russell earlier, “Cool story, bro” material. You seem to think this bit of trivia is somehow Earth-shattering. Get over it.

    Which question did I avoid? I assure you that if you were to have a mystical experience for yourself, that it would, in fact, be “Earth-shattering.” No one comes back saying, “Cool story, bro.” Michio Kaku has taken this topic into his most recent book “Future of the Mind.” The most noteworthy demonstration would be the mystical experience itself. The fact that it even is a focus of scientific investigation should be noteworthy right there. We’re not simply talking about adherents of religion subjected to mystical experience, but the founders of the major religions themselves are, too, strongly suspected to have had mystical experience or perhaps even several. Richard M. Bucke has written extensively on the accounts of mystical experience on historical figures, including Jesus, Saint Paul, Muhammad, Plotinus, Dante, Francis Bacon, William Blake, Buddha, and Ramakrishna.

    Just because a very small audience contributing to thread here don’t necessarily agree with Perennialism, it nevertheless is getting more and more attention through authors like Michio Kaku, through these scientific studies on mystical experience, through popular culture such as the artwork of Alex Grey. Some of the people here I’m not sure grasp the implications of these studies, because I’ve had to attempt to clarify what’s being addressed here to a couple of people. But I disagree with you, this field of research is definitely not trivial, and as studies continue to grow, I believe more and more people will find and consider this perspective in the very same way people today question western religion which apparently has become a contortion and distortion of what it originally conveyed, and so have rejected it and found their way to an agnostic atheist position, and that’s precisely what’s happening.

  92. Monocle Smile says

    @Kafei

    I assure you that if you were to have a mystical experience for yourself, that it would, in fact, be “Earth-shattering.” No one comes back saying, “Cool story, bro.”

    Missing the point, part 842. Also, this is a glaring, pathetic Texas sharpshooter fallacy.
    I imagine if I stabbed my own eyes out, I wouldn’t come back saying “cool story, bro.” So what? This isn’t meaningful. I am dumbfounded at your inability to grasp the point.

    Is English your first language? Because you don’t seem to be understanding the nature of the objection at all. Every post is you repeating yourself.

    Who cares what some psychiatrist who died in 1902 wrote? Your name-dropping is wildly obnoxious, by the way. Seeing patterns where none exist are what we call “conspiracy theories” and I don’t care. The people you listed (some of whom are fictional) acted very, very differently from each other, so I’m once again unsure what’s so profound or important.

    Some of the people here I’m not sure grasp the implications of these studies

    No. The problem is that we DO grasp the “implications” of these studies, but you’re too busy rocketing off into magical woo land to notice.

  93. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    it’s simply interpreted in an alternative fashion

    No. It’s not some mere “alternative fashion”. It’s a rejection of all sound principles of logic, reason, and discourse.

    Words do not have intrinsic meaning. Words are human inventions. For example, the meaning of the word “gay” is very very different today compared to 100 years ago in the English speaking world. Words have meaning only to the extent that people agree that they have meaning. The meaning of words derives wholly from consensus.

    As long as you refuse to be clear with your terms, as long as you choose to hide in confusion and ambiguity, then no productive conversation can be had. “Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them” – Thomas Jefferson. Worse, it now seems that you believe that clear and precise terms and clear and precise conversation is somehow “bad”. I don’t even… Monocle Smile was quite right to compare to you to Deepak Chopra, and Simon et al was right to say it’s very new-agey.

    Either stick with the clear consensus meaning of the word, or don’t use the word, or we all here will constantly hound you on your abuse of English, reason, and honesty. The choice is yours.

    PS:

    EnlightenmentLiberal said it in his example.

    We are not hivemind. John does not have the same beliefs that I do. (I can assure you of that.) I said that. He did not. Don’t attribute things to John that he did not say.

  94. Kafei says

    Monocle Smile says:

    Missing the point, part 842. Also, this is a glaring, pathetic Texas sharpshooter fallacy.
    I imagine if I stabbed my own eyes out, I wouldn’t come back saying “cool story, bro.” So what? This isn’t meaningful. I am dumbfounded at your inability to grasp the point.

    I could say the same to you that I’m dumbfounded that you cannot grasp what I’ve attempted to elaborate on for a dozen posts by now. Your example would be a false analogy. This experience, while it is profound, I believe one would have an easier time imagining someone who’s had their eyes stabbed out than to imagine what a mystical experience is like.

    Monocle Smile says:

    Is English your first language? Because you don’t seem to be understanding the nature of the objection at all. Every post is you repeating yourself.

    I’m not repeating myself rather than trying to elaborate on this concept and points people are bringing up here as to further clarify what is being discussed, because in the same vein I could say that you haven’t fully grasped it. What exactly is your objection? I really don’t see one. I just see misunderstanding and misconception on your part rather than an objection.

    Monocle Smile says:

    Who cares what some psychiatrist who died in 1902 wrote? Your name-dropping is wildly obnoxious, by the way. Seeing patterns where none exist are what we call “conspiracy theories” and I don’t care. The people you listed (some of whom are fictional) acted very, very differently from each other, so I’m once again unsure what’s so profound or important.

    Seeing patterns where none exist? I’d say this is only an admittance of your own ignorance. A lot of the work that’s being done today regarding mystical experience is actually based originally on the work of William James and has ramified and extrapolated from there, so your accusation that I’m seeing patterns where there none exist is patently false. What’s important? Well, for Perennial philosophy, I’d say it’s mystical experience. As Christopher Hitchens once said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” and mystical experience is simply it.

    EnlightenmentLiberal says:

    No. It’s not some mere “alternative fashion”. It’s a rejection of all sound principles of logic, reason, and discourse.
    Words do not have intrinsic meaning. Words are human inventions. For example, the meaning of the word “gay” is very very different today compared to 100 years ago in the English speaking world. Words have meaning only to the extent that people agree that they have meaning. The meaning of words derives wholly from consensus.
    As long as you refuse to be clear with your terms, as long as you choose to hide in confusion and ambiguity, then no productive conversation can be had. “Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them” – Thomas Jefferson. Worse, it now seems that you believe that clear and precise terms and clear and precise conversation is somehow “bad”. I don’t even… Monocle Smile was quite right to compare to you to Deepak Chopra, and Simon et al was right to say it’s very new-agey.
    Either stick with the clear consensus meaning of the word, or don’t use the word, or we all here will constantly hound you on your abuse of English, reason, and honesty. The choice is yours.

    I disagree. I don’t think anything about this is Chopra-esque or new age. It’s actually really not a new idea, Perennial philosophy is actually an old concept that goes back to the Traditionalist School of thought and holds roots in Neoplatonism. However, today it has transitioned from originally speaking about these terms in a religious context to a scientific context so that mystical experience is not defined by these neuroscientists as “union or dissolution into the Absolute or divine,” but instead a very particular altered state of consciousness.

    And so this Perennialist view is a perspective religion which does view these terms in what might’ve been the original sense of the word. So, just because “God” is a term that nowadays in the naïve concept of theists and even some atheists as this Santa Claus-like entity is simply how people have interpreted it today. And I’ve had an interest as how to this anthropomorphized notion of God came about. My own personal take is that when religions lost touch with the direct mystical experience, the attributes and terms given to this imaginary deity were originally attributed to the mystical experience. When you lose touch with direct experience, then your idea of God is given to you by concepts in a book or through an artist’s depiction of the so-called “sky daddy” that George Carlin made fun of the invisible man living in the sky. However, that’s not to say that this was the original concept, just as you said the word “gay” wasn’t originally used to describe someone who was a homosexual. Sure, the meaning of words will change overtime with popular usage, but I believe the way Perennialism treats and define these terms is quite clear.

    The issue I believe is that Perennialism sees all these terms as symbols or articulations or descriptions whether we’re talking about Brahman or Allah is that these are references to the mystical experience. Some of these terms, such as samadhi, are descriptions of the inner impression of the mystical experience, and so since most people haven’t had this experience, simply reading the characteristics of this type of experience doesn’t necessarily give you an insight of what this experience actually involves. That’s the real issue right there. Most people haven’t had this experience, and so don’t exactly know how to approach this unless they can really assess what’s being addressed here with an open-minded and without biases or pre-conceived notions. It’s like trying to describe an orgasm to someone who’s never had an orgasm. There’s nothing you could really say that would suffice as an explanation. “Oh, well, it feels like your genitals are sneezing.” Words pay no justice to the splendor of the experience, and so it has a kind of characteristic of ineffability, nevertheless people feel compelled to transpose this experience into words.

  95. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    So, just because “God” is a term that nowadays in the naïve concept of theists and even some atheists as this Santa Claus-like entity is simply how people have interpreted it today.

    That’s always how the word “god” has been used for the entire history of religion. Literal religious people who believe in an actual god in the sky are not a new phenomena. They have been there since the origin of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, etc., and they were there well before too, such as the believers of the Greek and Roman gods. You’re rewriting history. It’s historical revisionism.

    Again, before we go any further, I’m going to need you to stop misusing the word “god”.

    I’m also going to ask you again to stop capitalizing the word “god”. It’s improper to capitalize “god” and “gods” just like it’s improper to capitalize the words “cat” and “cats”. The only reason to capitalize the word “god” is if you mean it as a proper name, like the name of a particular god of a particular religion. Your insistence on this capitalization again makes me believe that you’re just a bald-faced liar, and that you are a conventional Christian who is trolling us.

    Further, I’m going to need you to agree to the following logical dichotomies: 1- For a sufficiently well-defined meaning of “god”, either there is a god, or there isn’t. 2- For any one person with reasonably consistent beliefs, either they accept as true that there is a god, or they don’t. If you’re not going to agree to simple philosophy 101 concepts like logical consistency and a simple form of realism, then there is no point in conversation with you, except to hound you on these points.

    Also, these are philosophy 101 concepts. In my college education (do you even have that?), these are the concepts that they taught in my actual honest-to-goodness philosophy 101 class. You’re not just rejecting conventional worldviews, dualism, materialism, etc. You’re flat-out rejecting logic, the law of the excluded middle, and the requirement of logically consistent beliefs, and I will have none of that.

  96. John Iacoletti says

    EnlightenmentLiberal said it in his example. I have not been dishonest. Where’s your evidence for that?

    EnlightenmentLiberal didn’t claim “there is no God” — you misrepresented an example he gave as his own direct claim. That was the dishonesty.

    Sure, you can mock the mystical experience,

    The only reason you consider this to be mockery is because you’re special pleading. There is no qualitative difference between that and what you are doing.

  97. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    EnlightenmentLiberal didn’t claim “there is no God” — you misrepresented an example he gave as his own direct claim. That was the dishonesty.

    Clarification: As an actual matter of facts, that is my actual position. In other context, I do regularly make the positive assertion that there are no gods. As for this thread, I did say this earlier:

    Don’t redefine the word “god”. You can describe your position just fine without butchering the English language. Ex: There is no god, and their religious experience is something to do with altered states of consciousness, which happens without needing to appeal to any gods nor demons nor spirits nor ghosts, etc.

    Could that be reasonably interpreted (or accidentally read) to mean that? Probably not. Maybe. However, I wouldn’t accuse dishonesty over just this IMO. Strawmanning, sure, but not dishonesty (yet).

    Otherwise, please carry on good sir.

  98. Monocle Smile says

    John’s killing it in this thread. Just thought I should note that.
    EL, I’m not getting through at all, so let’s see if you and John can get anywhere.

  99. Kafei says

    EnlightenmentLiberal says

    That’s always how the word “god” has been used for the entire history of religion. Literal religious people who believe in an actual god in the sky are not a new phenomena. They have been there since the origin of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, etc., and they were there well before too, such as the believers of the Greek and Roman gods. You’re rewriting history. It’s historical revisionism.

    This is not at all the case. First of all, the monotheistic “God as entity” was born as an abstraction from of henotheism and monism which originally were more panentheistic notions of the divine. Greek religion, which predates Christianity, emphasized Monism which is a more panentheistic conception of the divine (not to be confused with pantheism) which defines God as philosophical Absolute or “The All” or Plotinus’ “The One.”

    Also, in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the holy trinity is interpreted as The Father being the source or what Paul Tillich referred to as “The Ground of All Being,” then the Son (the eternal Logos (“Word”), manifest in human form as Jesus and thereafter as Christ); and the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete or advocate). So, again, you have a panentheistic notion of God even in Christianity, but where the division lies within the sects or the disagreements, I should say, are those scholars of religion and religion mystics, a famous dispute between Barlaam of Seminara and St. Gregory Palamas. Because Palamas had direct access to the divine by techniques to induce mystical experience, this was regarded blasphemous by Barlaam who believed according strictly to doctrine that God is ultimately unknowable which Palamas viewed as a dangerously agnostic point-of-view. And throughout the history of religions, you’ll find these type of conflicts where mystics that claimed to have direct insight that often went against strict doctrine were persecuted. As I mentioned before, Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake, John Scotus Eriugena was excommunicated, Meister Eckhart theses were condemned. Some mystics may have gotten away with it, but that’s because they use cautious language. So, God as the all-powerful, omniscient entity, I believe, is an abstract interpretation of God as the transcendental all-encompassing source which gives rise to the manifested world that has been traditionally described by mystics throughout all the major religions.

    Now, eastern religions such as Hinduism which predates most of the major religions by millennia has as its concept of the divine a panentheism (again, not to be confused for pantheism). So, this very naïve notion that theists and even atheists have today of the Santa Claus God, I believe, is basically an interpretation of God without mystical experience. It’s a pure abstraction, and while it has been associated with religion, it’s basically the artist’s representation or symbol of God. The original conception of the divine was not this omniscient entity which atheists parody with the Flying Spaghetti Monster. So, it’s dishonest to say that “That’s always how the word ‘god’ has been used for the entire history of religion.” That’s definitely not true of Eastern religion. Brahman, for instance, which is the divinity of Hinduism is not interpreted as an entity in any shape or form of the word, and Hinduism is considered the The Grandfather religion originally dating back over 4,000 years ago, perhaps even longer than that.

    I’m definitely not re-writing history, but rather I see my effort as an attempt to give a better account of it than the misconception and misrepresentation and the nonsense it’s been contorted into today. If anyone re-wrote history, it was the bureaucrats that edited and re-edited the Bible for social control and political gain.

    Again, before we go any further, I’m going to need you to stop misusing the word “god”.

    I’m absolutely not doing that at all, and I gave a thorough explanation as to why not, and if you’d like we can get more into that topic.

    I’m also going to ask you again to stop capitalizing the word “god”. It’s improper to capitalize “god” and “gods” just like it’s improper to capitalize the words “cat” and “cats”. The only reason to capitalize the word “god” is if you mean it as a proper name, like the name of a particular god of a particular religion. Your insistence on this capitalization again makes me believe that you’re just a bald-faced liar, and that you are a conventional Christian who is trolling us.

    I’m typing on a phone, and so when I use Swype, it automatically comes out God.

  100. Kafei says

    @John Iacoletti

    EnlightenmentLiberal didn’t claim “there is no God” — you misrepresented an example he gave as his own direct claim. That was the dishonesty.

    Well, now I wasn’t accusing him of holding that position, I was accusing him of using an example that exerted that position, but now that he’s admitted he’s a gnostic theist, then I’d point out it’s an outright fallacious position. Gnostic atheism bears the burden of proof just as gnostic theism does.

    The only reason you consider this to be mockery is because you’re special pleading. There is no qualitative difference between that and what you are doing.

    How exactly am I special pleading? The difference between your mocking criticism of this so-called feeling one receives after defecating is a perfect example of a false analogy. Mystical experience, on the other hand, is backed by scientific evidence, and that’s the qualitative difference.

  101. John Iacoletti says

    The feeling you get after taking a crap is most certainly backed by scientific evidence. And it’s just as meaningful.

  102. Monocle Smile says

    @Kafei

    Mystical experience, on the other hand, is backed by scientific evidence, and that’s the qualitative difference

    I’m 99% sure that we’d see comparable fMRI readouts between people right after they take shits. Same thing with orgasms, and I believe there IS scientific investigation being done here. Furthermore, it’s completely laughable that you talking about this scientific evidence where none exists for the brain states of ANY of the figures you named earlier. “But but but William James” isn’t an argument, nor is it evidence.

  103. Kafei says

    John Iacoletti says:

    The feeling you get after taking a crap is most certainly backed by scientific evidence. And it’s just as meaningful.

    I truly doubt it’s as significant as these studies have shown how these already religiously inclined people were attributing it. Of those who had the full-blown mystical experience, they were describing it as the most significant spiritual experience of their life. I mean, if you want to mock it, that’s fine, but I’d say the science disagrees with you.

    Monocole Smile says:

    I’m 99% sure that we’d see comparable fMRI readouts between people right after they take shits. Same thing with orgasms, and I believe there IS scientific investigation being done here. Furthermore, it’s completely laughable that you talking about this scientific evidence where none exists for the brain states of ANY of the figures you named earlier. “But but but William James” isn’t an argument, nor is it evidence.

    There has been work done led Dr. Carhart-Harris utilizing fMRI to scan the psilocybin-induced state. And there’s more studies on the way. You’ve got to remember these substances were illegal for scientific study and so that stifled our scientific understanding for decades, and we’re just beginning to explore these avenues once again after psychedelics were made illegal even for scientific study in ’66. Even Roland Griffiths eventually wants to map the mystical experience by examining which neural pathways are lit up, but it’s simply that these type of studies haven’t been done.

  104. Monocle Smile says

    @Kafei

    I truly doubt it’s as significant as these studies have shown how these already religiously inclined people were attributing it

    This isn’t a qualitative difference, you dumbass.

    Of those who had the full-blown mystical experience, they were describing it as the most significant spiritual experience of their life

    Again with the sharpshooter fallacy, and now you’re just arguing from your conclusion and failing to understand the point of an analogy.

    You’ve got to remember these substances were illegal for scientific study and so that stifled our scientific understanding for decades, and we’re just beginning to explore these avenues once again

    This is an excuse, and a poor one at that. Earlier you were bursting at the seams about the vast amount of scientific investigation being done and the amount of data acquired. Now you’re walking it back…and you ignored the other parts of my post. You STILL STILL STILL don’t understand our objections, and EL is correct that you’re engaging in historical revisionism.

  105. Kafei says

    If you believe what I’m talking about is a harpshooter fallacy or historical revisionism, then you’ve entirely missed the point. I mean, it’s one thing to accuse me of something, but you’ve yet to explain in what fashion is this historical revisionism or how this is a sharpshooter fallacy or how what I described wasn’t a qualitative difference. Your content-free paragraph basically boils down to name calling and false accusations.

  106. Kafei says

    If you believe what I’m talking about is a sharpshooter fallacy or historical revisionism, then you’ve entirely missed the point. I mean, it’s one thing to accuse me of something, but you’ve yet to explain in what fashion is this historical revisionism or how this is a sharpshooter fallacy or how what I described wasn’t a qualitative difference. There is lots of data acquired from decades of research, but that doesn’t mean we’ve got all the answers. Your content-free paragraph basically boils down to name calling and false accusations.

  107. Monocle Smile says

    El explained the historical revisionism.
    You keep claiming that “everyone” who has had a mystical experience calls it the best thing ever, but that sounds an awful lot like you’re just ignoring the people who say otherwise. This is a sharpshooter fallacy. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that throughout history, the people who didn’t react well to this “mystical experience” would write it off while those who had an “awakening” probably wrote or talked about it…although you haven’t addressed the fact that a few figures you’ve named are fictional, which is a glaring problem.

    If I have to explain the word “qualitative” and what it means in this context, then you need to study some more English. It’s extremely obvious what John was talking about. We’re referring to categorical differences. There is no categorical difference between a “mystical experience” (I hate myself every time I type that because it sounds incredibly pretentious), taking a shit, and having an orgasm. Besides your bald assertions and something something William James, what the fuck does this have to do with god claims?

  108. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    then I’d point out it’s an outright fallacious position. Gnostic atheism bears the burden of proof just as gnostic theism does.

    Do I bear the burden of proof, yes. Is that fallacious? No. Do I believe that I can meet that burden of proof? Yes, yes I do.

  109. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And still, what is your point? What is your endgame? You want to redefine “god” to be “the special experience that people have, which they call religious, spiritual, mystical, whatever” ? Great. Whatever. Assuming we grant that, what is your goddamned point? Do you even have one after that? We’ve already said that what you say is quite plausible, and maybe even correct. No one is contesting these claims. We’ve largely consented to these claims.

    If you want to go further and try to make claims about things that exist outside of someone’s head, things that exist in some real, objective way, like ghosts, goblins, demons, angels, etc., then we’re going to call shenanigans.

    If you are here to ask the show’s host to adopt your terminology of “god”, then you can go fuck yourself, for the reasons already stated – especially for the reason that it would be exceedingly confusing and misleading to 99% of listeners, and you goddamned know that. We are not going to use purposefully confusing language that will give the appearance that the theistic claims of modern Christians have anything to them at all.

  110. John Iacoletti says

    I truly doubt it’s as significant as these studies have shown how these already religiously inclined people were attributing it. Of those who had the full-blown mystical experience, they were describing it as the most significant spiritual experience of their life. I mean, if you want to mock it, that’s fine, but I’d say the science disagrees with you.

    Science says nothing about “full-blown mystical experiences” or “significant spiritual experience” because those phrases are scientifically meaningless. You’re just using them as cryptic labels for altered brain states. Is it necessary or even useful to wrap a “philosophy” around something just because it feels good?

  111. StonedRanger says

    Kafei, have you ever taken any hallucinogenic drugs? Because I have taken LSD, mescaline, or psilocybin over 500 times. At first I thought I had reached some new level of consciousness, but after dozens of these experiences I began to understand that there was nothing mystical about them at all. I was, through experience, able to control to some extent the hallucinations I was experiencing. Its all about changing the brains chemistry by taking other chemicals.

    You cant even define the term ‘mystical experience’ well enough to make someone who hasn’t taken those drugs to understand it. Ive never seen god, felt closer to god, or nirvana or whatever term you choose to describe taking those drugs. You keep saying the same things over and over but all you can do is poo poo whatever responses you get. You don’t talk like you’ve ever taken any of those drugs, you just want to point at other peoples experience and talk about them as if they are solid proven facts. I suspect those people thought they found god, because that’s what they were looking for.

  112. Kafei says

    EnlightenmentLiberal says:

    And still, what is your point? What is your endgame? You want to redefine “god” to be “the special experience that people have, which they call religious, spiritual, mystical, whatever” ? Great. Whatever. Assuming we grant that, what is your goddamned point? Do you even have one after that? We’ve already said that what you say is quite plausible, and maybe even correct. No one is contesting these claims. We’ve largely consented to these claims.
    If you want to go further and try to make claims about things that exist outside of someone’s head, things that exist in some real, objective way, like ghosts, goblins, demons, angels, etc., then we’re going to call shenanigans.
    If you are here to ask the show’s host to adopt your terminology of “god”, then you can go fuck yourself, for the reasons already stated – especially for the reason that it would be exceedingly confusing and misleading to 99% of listeners, and you goddamned know that. We are not going to use purposefully confusing language that will give the appearance that the theistic claims of modern Christians have anything to them at all.

    Well, if you agreed to my original points, then you never made that clear. I’ve stated clearly that these studies aren’t acknowledging anything “beyond the brain.” And I’m not asking people to “adopt” a certain divine terminology, but rather point out that these terms had an original meaning which today has been contorted to this abstract and even parodied notion of a monotheism. Originally, as I pointed out, conceptions of the divine were more panentheistic, and I gave the example of Brahman described by Hindu mystics in the mystical state of samadhi which is simply their term for “mystical experience.” Today we understand that this phenomenon in consciousness is a very specific altered state of consciousness, and that’s been my point all along.

    StonedRanger says:

    Kafei, have you ever taken any hallucinogenic drugs? Because I have taken LSD, mescaline, or psilocybin over 500 times. At first I thought I had reached some new level of consciousness, but after dozens of these experiences I began to understand that there was nothing mystical about them at all. I was, through experience, able to control to some extent the hallucinations I was experiencing. Its all about changing the brains chemistry by taking other chemicals.

    Terence McKenna often made the point that one could conceivably take things like LSD or psilocybin or mescaline dozens or even hundreds of times and not ever approach a full-blown psychedelic experience. The point is that it’s not how many times or how many psychedelics you’ve done, but how much of a psychedelic you’ve done in a single sitting. He advocated what he called the “heroic dose” and that is necessarily to elicit this experience. In fact, even in these studies done at Johns Hopkins with psilocybin, they’re essentially using Terence McKenna’s “heroic dose” with pure psilocybin in pill form. I pointed this out in my very first post (60.) on this thread.

    You cant even define the term ‘mystical experience’ well enough to make someone who hasn’t taken those drugs to understand it. Ive never seen god, felt closer to god, or nirvana or whatever term you choose to describe taking those drugs. You keep saying the same things over and over but all you can do is poo poo whatever responses you get. You don’t talk like you’ve ever taken any of those drugs, you just want to point at other peoples experience and talk about them as if they are solid proven facts. I suspect those people thought they found god, because that’s what they were looking for.

    I’d argue that despite how many times and how many different psychedelics you’ve taken, you never approached a heroic dose. Descriptions like nirvana, God, higher dimension, etc. are commonplace with these higher dose ranges. I don’t think people necessarily use these descriptions because “that’s what they were looking for,” that’d be a misconception to think that. Instead, these terms are used as metaphors because no other descriptions seem to suffice to describe this immense and titanic altered state of consciousness which give people a complete sense of unity of all people and things, unconditional love, an impression of having transcended space and time, etc. Those characteristics are universal to this experience, and while I’ve elaborated on a few posts as to the definition of mystical experience, I’ve left more links of the leader of this research himself defining the mystical experience.

    John Iacoletti says:

    Science says nothing about “full-blown mystical experiences” or “significant spiritual experience” because those phrases are scientifically meaningless. You’re just using them as cryptic labels for altered brain states. Is it necessary or even useful to wrap a “philosophy” around something just because it feels good?

    This scientific study does refer to this particular altered state as “mystical experience.” Like it or not, scientists have adopted this term to describe this very particular altered state of consciousness. They don’t necessarily speak of “significant spiritual experience,” but they do point out that in their religiously inclined volunteers, those who met criteria for having had the full-blown mystical experience, they did in fact consider it the most significant spiritual experience of their life.

  113. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    rather point out that these terms had an original meaning which today has been contorted to this abstract and even parodied notion of a monotheism. Originally, as I pointed out, conceptions of the divine were more panentheistic, and I gave the example of Brahman described by Hindu mystics in the mystical state of samadhi which is simply their term for “mystical experience.”

    Again, my ass. It depends on the the tradition. You are right for some traditions, and AFAIK, especially some of the east asian traditions. However, the old believers of Greek and Roman gods did believe in actual, real, “physical”, intangible creatures, which one might call “ghosts”, “goblins”, “demons”, “spirits”, “gods”. Even old Japanese belief is replete with belief in actual stuff like IIRC river spirits and other youkai.

    Today we understand that this phenomenon in consciousness is a very specific altered state of consciousness, and that’s been my point all along.

    And you’ll get very little complaints from anyone here.

    And again, what is your point? Is your point to argue about anthropology of religion? Or is your point to argue about somewhat else? What is your reason for being here?

  114. Kafei says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal

    Greek and Roman gods did believe in actual, real, “physical”, intangible creatures, which one might call “ghosts”, “goblins”, “demons”, “spirits”, “gods”. Even old Japanese belief is replete with belief in actual stuff like IIRC river spirits and other youkai.

    While Greek and Roman religions might have seemed as though they practiced a kind of polytheism, the various Gods in Greek and Roman mythology would be interpreted as archetypes rather than a polytheism. Greeks did, in fact, have panentheistic views. Theoria is a Greek term for contemplation, and it’s possible they practiced techniques that influenced the quietism of Hesychasm. There’s also speculation that they used entheogens as in The Eleusinian mysteries to induce such states to perceive what Poltinus referred to as “The One” which is a panentheistic description of the divine. In Japan, while they have a tradition of folklore that eludes to sprites, demons, goblins, etc. they overall practice religions like Shinto, Buddhism and Taoism which are also panentheistic.

    And again, what is your point? Is your point to argue about anthropology of religion? Or is your point to argue about somewhat else? What is your reason for being here?

    I’m not trying to argue about anthropology of religion, but emphasize the Perennialist view and how it’s transitioned these days from being something that was solely discussed in a religious context to now being discussed in a scientific context. And, well, to discuss Perennialism and to break misconceptions about it, apparently.

  115. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Please define “the Perennialism view”. Or please link to a site which defines it and discusses it in a way that you are willing to stand by.

    This conversation has been like trying to nail jello to a wall.

  116. itsmejre says

    Zu sagen, dass das Universum ist “natürlich” ist tautologisch, wenn das Wesen des Wortes natürlich ist eine Eigenschaft des Universums wird als “natürlich”.

    Folglich, wenn alles natürlich ist – dann ist nichts natürlicher.

  117. Leander says

    Great episode. I also watched the Dawkins Dillahunty in Vancouver debate, I was curious though as to what Matts position on Universities, banning certain speakers and “save spaces” really is? He said that Dawkins and him probably disagree, though being in agreement of most other issues, on that…