Re: The mind/brain and revelation

From: George Andrews Jr. (
Date: Thu Sep 14 2000 - 08:57:30 EDT

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    Hi Wayne;

    > George Andrews wrote:
    > << Well, OK but ..... I think the recent experiments
    > subjecting human brains to electrical stimulation which
    > thereby produces "religious like" effects in the
    > patient is pretty strong support for the atheistic
    > side and needs to "keep in mind" :-)
    > I think the best responce is to agree that all
    > religious experienc is in the mind. Where else would it be?
    > We are very, very physical.
    > >>
    > <snip>
    > Of course, the
    > brain is a complex system which ultimately is reduced to electical
    > impulses and, if you insist on the reductio ad absurdum, that is
    > all Paul experienced on the road to Damascus.
    > However, that does not mean the Christ did
    > not speak to Paul. Moreover, to deny such revelatory experience
    > as "false" and everyday experience as "true" is a false
    > dichotomy.

    The fact that those accompanying Paul did not also hear Christ's voice is my
    point. It was all in Paul's mind.

    The implication of the experiments is that claims of revelatory experiences
    can be thought of as arising in the mind. This in not false but has just been
    empirically proven to be real. The theistic interpretation is as I have
    already stated. Where else would revelation take place but in the mind.
    Perhaps we really are temples.

    > Paul Davies says in "The Mind of God":
    > "In chapter 6 I described how some
    > scientists and mathematicians claim to have had sudden revelatory
    > insights akin to such mystical experiences. Roger Penrose describes
    > mathematical inspirations as a sudden "breaking through" into a Platonic
    > realm. Rucker reports that Kurt Godel also spoke of the "other relation to
    > reality," by which he could directly perceive mathematical objects,
    > such as infinity. Godel himself was apparently able to achieve
    > this by adopting meditative practices, such as closing off the other
    > senses and lying down in a quiet place. For other scientists the
    > revelatory experiene happens spontaneously, in the midst of the
    > daily clamor." Davies mentions a number of other notable and
    > "interesting" scientists.

    Again I believe you make my point. By analogy to religious experience, Davies
    meant to communicate that the discovery of these men had similar connotations
    to those who claim to receive special revelation from God. But it was by their
    own intellectual genius after many years of study - not from God via
    revelation. I think you conflate novel thought with divine revelation. Hence,
    in these instance, it is definitional to maintain that it was all in their

    > So, if all revelatory experience is false, it follows that any
    > proposition based on revelatory experience must be false.
    > Therefore, Godel's theorem is wrong.

    I don't view divine revelation to be equal to human ingenuity. It is not
    needed and detracts from Adam's role in creation. Hence, Godel's theorem,
    arrived at after much thought, is not wrong and the analogy is false.

    > Indeed, if the mere fact that the mind can store and register
    > experience, means that we must deny *all*
    > experience as all such revelatory experience is also ultimately
    > stored and registered as electical impulses in our brains and
    > revelatory experiences *must* be false.

     "All" is all inclusive and needs always to be used with all caution. :-)

    I am sorry Wayne, but I don't follow your reasoning in the above. It seems
    that you took me to have said that since humans respond to objects via sensual
    data transported to the brain as electrical impulses, then all objects are not
    real. This I did not say and this we can agree is absurd.

    What was sad was that, religious like experiences have been reproduced in the
    laboratory without a God measurably present. Hence, atheistic notions are

    > A God who equipt a universe with everything it needs is also a
    > God who can speak to it. If mathematical discoveries which
    > have enriched our world can come about by revelation, then I
    > see little reason to deny the power of revelatory experience
    > in the theologian as well.

    But math is not revelatory in the Biblical - Damascus road sense. You appear,
    to me at least, to have confused categories.

    George A.

    George A. Andrews Jr.
    Physics/Applied Science
    College of William & Mary
    Williamsburg, VA 23188

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