Re: The mind/brain and revelation

Date: Fri Sep 15 2000 - 12:28:44 EDT

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: The mind/brain and revelation"

    George Andrews wrote:

    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.

    Indeed, we must start from the mind because that where the
    systems of learning and understanding are known to reside.
    I am not arguing that it does not take place there. What
    really happens in true religious experience is yet unknown,
    but ultimately, I presently think our connection to God's
    revelation is through our minds.

    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 minds.

    You are right in saying that Paul's experience
    is not one that he controlled. Christ chose the moment,
    and Christ chose what to say. In this respect, my
    analogy has limits.

    Actually, I chose this analogy because it is
    more accessable to human thought. I would not
    claim in general that mathematical realization and a
    revelation from God are the same thing. They are probably
    not in the majority of cases --- unless perhaps the
    mathematician confesses Christ as Lord and savior
    after such an experience. I would not exclude the
    possibility, but I think it is unlikely.

    However, you had raised the point that religious experience
    can be refuted by the atheists because of Ramachandran's
    experiments. The atheist's position is that *all*
    religious intuition is false. It is false because it can
    be shown to occur by sending random magnetic pulses to the
    limbic system of the human brain. That is their position,
    and what you appeared at least to be arguing.

    Few people would argue that a mathematical proof is false,
    simply because the person stating that proof did
    so as a result of a revelation they experienced. Moreover
    a mathematical proof can (in principle) be shown to be
    true. Hence, at least this in agreed upon by all parties.

    The issues of altered states of the mind is not
    well understood. It simply does not follow that because an
    altered state has occurred, and the awareness that is purported
    is religious in nature, that it *must* be false. We would not
    say that if a mathematical proof occurred as a result of
    such stimulation. Why then must we make a unique distinction
    for religious experience?

    Religious *"realizations"* probably fit this analogy with
    mathematics a little better, and could also follow from
    similar pathways, The major difference is that they
    are in general not as accessable to proof as is the case
    with mathematical "realizations". Nevertheless,
    mathematical realizations can also be discovered
    for which no proof can be supplied. From the God's eye view,
    they could have a proof, but from the human standpoint, they
    may be too difficult to discover. However, suppose that a
    revelation occurs and an unassailable proof is discerned.
    What of these situations?

    I don't think that it would be fair to reject a theological
    realization and it is reasonable to think that part of our
    recognition of God is the result of such deep though. Although
    the theological realization is not likely to be provable to
    any rigor approaching that of mathematics, it is not false
    because the realization results a religious proposition.

    Paul, had an intense passion for the Truth. Mathematicians
    have a passion for mathematical truths. These are therefore
    connected through the limbic system. Indeed, this is one of
    the points in Ramachandran's work. Our great passion and
    drive for understanding is not driven by the rational
    and logical parts of our brain, it is driven by the parts
    of our mind connected by emotion. So it remains that part
    of discernment of higher principles and issues of ultimate
    reality do in fact occur as a result of connections within
    related circuits. If the resulting propositions are in fact
    True, it doesn't matter how they were arrived at.
    So no one can claim that
    *realizations* that comes to an understanding about God and
    Christ crucified are fundamentally false just because we have
    no proof as such that the proposition are unassailably true,
    and they can be associated with functional parts of our brain.
    Moreover, no one can assert that if such an awareness came as
    a result of stimulation of the limbic system via random magnetic
    field pulses, that it is patently false.

    On the other hand, I sense what you are arguing is that you
    don't think the experiment is representing the way God
    communicates with us. It does appear to follow from different
    traditions than eastern thought, which somewhat focuses more
    on the concept of "realization" as opposed to "revelation".

    Finally, as I have argued before.... the very reason we may
    have these features in the structure of our brains is because
    they are essential for our survival as a species. If Glenn
    Morton's propositions about Neanderthal man and Homo Erectus
    are true, human beings have likely believed in God for more
    than 2 million years. That is significant on a evolutionary
    time scale. It suggests that we are doomed if we reject God
    and follow our own way. It seems the Bible said that a long
    long time ago.

    It is by Grace then, that the sinner is justified, and by
    Grace that the sinner reaches forth and follows Christ.


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