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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