Being "Led" by God
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25-10-2012, 03:24 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
Some really good reads that go into more detail about confirmation bias, altered memory, and perception:

The Demon Haunted World - Carl Sagan
Paranormality - Richard Wiseman

I thoroughly enjoyed each.

Also, kudos to you, Onedream, for sticking around and listening.

He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! -Brian's mum
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25-10-2012, 03:27 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
Personal experience is a powerful thing. One thing you can do to keep yourself in check is examine everything from multiple angles. For example, you had a tingly feeling in church. Understandably, you might think it's the spirit of god touching you. But what about other sensations you've felt outside of church? Do you give them the same weight and emphasis? And why, with all god's power, would he "tingle" you? God's interaction with humans in the bible is much more literal and deliberate.

You had a dream about two people in McDonalds. Have you ever had a dream that didn't come true? Partially came true? Would you have dreamed about McDonalds if you had never heard of it? Dreaming about the winning powerball numbers is specific.

As far as the garage sale incident, I'll echo the sentiment of others in that for every prayer that seems to come true, how many billions of others don't? The theist coping mechanism for this inconsistency is to say god "works in mysterious ways" or "we can't understand his will." Or thirdly, a theist will interpret a different outcome as god's "better" answer for their prayer. You can see all the flexibility for interpretation... if you want to believe god answered a prayer, there are a dozen ways to rationalize it in your mind. So try praying to some other gods. Apply the same liberal interpretations to your prayers. Which gods answered? Which didn't? Is that relevant?

If Jesus died for our sins, why is there still sin? If man was created from dust, why is there still dust? If Americans came from Europe, why are there still Europeans?
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25-10-2012, 07:53 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
(25-10-2012 01:14 PM)amyb Wrote:  Confirmation bias. Humans are pattern-seeking animals, so they tend to ignore it when they don't see a pattern, and when they can see a pattern (real or not), they remember it and place meaning and value on it, and they interpret it to fit into their preconceived notions. That's why a theist and an atheist can experience the same thing and interpret it in vastly different ways sometimes.

I would imagine that, if you were an atheist and the same things and feelings happened, you'd just attribute it to something else, rather than using a religious explanation.

Yeah, that.

The best example I ever heard of is a husband and wife being asked if the husband leaves the toilet seat up. The husband says "every time" and the wife says "never". Are they lying? No. The husband pats himself on the back when he remembers to put the seat down, and records that in his memory... but he doesn't notice when he leaves it up (otherwise he would've put it down) so he doesn't remember those occasions. His wife notices when she goes to sit and the seat is up, so it stays in her memory, but when it's down it escapes her notice because it doesn't require thought or action. So confirmation bias leads us to notice only the events that confirm our beliefs and leads us to ignore events that contradict them.

Those times that you prayed but your prayer wasn't fulfilled -- you forgot that you'd prayed, because there was no confirming event to remind you of your past prayers. Thus, you only notice when they're "answered".

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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25-10-2012, 08:11 PM
Being "Led" by God
(25-10-2012 07:53 PM)Starcrash Wrote:  
(25-10-2012 01:14 PM)amyb Wrote:  Confirmation bias. Humans are pattern-seeking animals, so they tend to ignore it when they don't see a pattern, and when they can see a pattern (real or not), they remember it and place meaning and value on it, and they interpret it to fit into their preconceived notions. That's why a theist and an atheist can experience the same thing and interpret it in vastly different ways sometimes.

I would imagine that, if you were an atheist and the same things and feelings happened, you'd just attribute it to something else, rather than using a religious explanation.

Yeah, that.

The best example I ever heard of is a husband and wife being asked if the husband leaves the toilet seat up. The husband says "every time" and the wife says "never". Are they lying? No. The husband pats himself on the back when he remembers to put the seat down, and records that in his memory... but he doesn't notice when he leaves it up (otherwise he would've put it down) so he doesn't remember those occasions. His wife notices when she goes to sit and the seat is up, so it stays in her memory, but when it's down it escapes her notice because it doesn't require thought or action. So confirmation bias leads us to notice only the events that confirm our beliefs and leads us to ignore events that contradict them.

Those times that you prayed but your prayer wasn't fulfilled -- you forgot that you'd prayed, because there was no confirming event to remind you of your past prayers. Thus, you only notice when they're "answered".

That's it. From now on I'm using The Toilet Seat Analogy when I need to explain confirmation bias.

He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! -Brian's mum
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25-10-2012, 08:38 PM (This post was last modified: 25-10-2012 08:42 PM by onedream.)
RE: Being "Led" by God
This is great stuff, folks.

I suspect the thing in McDonalds was my mind playing tricks on me.

I don't even remember it CRYSTAL clearly, which is why I edited the instance out of my post.

It's VERY likely that my memory transposed the order of the dream and the encounter.

Great responses. Thank you so much. Oh, and I LOVE "The Amazing Randi." His vids disproving Uri Gellar are epic.
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25-10-2012, 09:07 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
For every time that things happened to work out for you; there are a million+ times when things DIDN'T work out for someone else. As others have alluded, it seems a bit narcissistic to believe that God cared more about your pety tribulations when someone, somewhere, at this very moment as you read this, is being gang-raped somewhere in the woods and crying out in vain for God to save them.

Of all the reasons to hold on to some divine belief, that one has got to be the weakest. If not the weakest; then most certainly the most arrogant.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
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25-10-2012, 09:14 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
(25-10-2012 12:47 PM)onedream Wrote:  I'm new to the journey here. I recently began exploring all of the evidence FOR and Against God for myself.

I've spent over 20 years as a Christian. I'm currently in Christian radio. But I'm teetering on Deism at this point. Who knows if that will lead to atheism or not?

Here's part of what is keeping me from being an atheist: I have so many times when it appears that God comes through and provides EXACTLY what I need WHEN I need it. And...it seems like I'll regularly say a prayer and BANG it gets answered in a really uncanny way.

For instance: I went to a garage sale last Saturday. And I started talking to the couple running the garage sale. It turned out that they were doing the garage sale to raise money for a ministry they run for people who are in prison. Well, the more I heard, the more I liked. And I decided I wanted to put them on my Christian radio show as a feature ministry.

When I said that, his eyes lit up. And he said "I was just praying last night and asking God how he was going to help us get the word out that we needed support for this ministry. And I felt him say 'Don't promote yourself. I'll bring the promotion TO YOU."

It appeared to be a "divine appointment."

I've had lots of stuff happen like this too. Where I'll get a feeling or a strong sense of "Knowing" that God has said something to me. It's not a voice. It's just a feeling. Or a STRONG thought. And when it happens, I recognize it as not being something that I'm just "whipping up" myself.

Does this happen to atheists or people in religions besides Christianity? I've got to know.

Hey WetDream,
The reason I left the ministry was not because I had become a non-believer. I prayed and prayed and felt lead by God that it was time for both me and for the church to move forward and on to bigger and better things. After I resigned, the church rehired the former senior pastor who had created a lot of the mess that I had been left to deal with and I went 6 months without a job before selling insurance, which I hated. This was one of the strongest catalysts that I had had up to that point that maybe I wasn't as good at hearing God's voice as I had grown up believing I could.

Over the years, I slowly ended all church attendance, bible reading, praying. One day I realized I had stopped believing and I think for a large part it was because I had broken out of the Evangelical Ghetto with it's mind games and Jesus Speak. You stop having people around you to confirm your already entrenched bias and you eventually stop believing. Of course, as a pastor, I had warned against this very thing for decades. "not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." How many times did I teach that if an ember moves away from a campfire, it loses it's heat and burns out. But as it moves closer to the fire, it's source of heat and energy remain.

All that was a extremely well thought out mind-fuck for someone who was pulling away from Christianity, always on edge that I should go back and confess like the prodigal son.

I still have thoughts of going back, only this time I would do it to cash in. Can you imagine the Bank I could pull down? Former Preacher becomes Atheist and then returns to the fold! I'd be a superstar!

It was just a fucking apple man, we're sorry okay? Please stop the madness Laugh out load
~Izel
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25-10-2012, 09:34 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
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25-10-2012, 10:07 PM
Being "Led" by God

It was just a fucking apple man, we're sorry okay? Please stop the madness Laugh out load
~Izel
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25-10-2012, 10:38 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
I don't know. Things sometimes work out in a seemingly odd way. That being said, it feels like if there is a god all he keeps saying to me is "Here, let me slap you with my big cock again.". My wife is going to be having surgery (at least I hope anyway) at the end of December. We just went to a meeting at my company about benefits which will renew 11/1. I make only about 20k per year. The deductible for the insurance is now 10k. The surgery will cost about 15k. It is as if nothing I do is ever good enough. Everytime I overcome an obstacle it is as if something says, "Let's see you get over this one". I finally find a way to buy a house and it is as if life is not happy with that. I guess back to school I go.
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