Examples for debunking "personal experiences" as evidence
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14-08-2011, 12:45 PM (This post was last modified: 14-08-2011 01:01 PM by ghostexorcist.)
Examples for debunking "personal experiences" as evidence
Religious people often give personal experiences or the experiences of friends or family as proof for the existence of God. For instance, my mother (who is not a terribly religious woman) cites a personal experience where she heard the voice of woman tell her to wake up when she had fallen asleep at the wheel. She believes this was the voice of my great aunt who died well before I was born. Now, there could be any number of reasons for her hearing the voice. I think it’s very plausible that she was in a very low stage of REM sleep, low enough for her to be still aware of her surroundings. This is what specialists believe people suffer from when they claimed to have seen aliens or demons. Anyway, this was such a powerful experience to her that nothing could change her mind. The same goes for people around the world.

I hear more about "Near Death Experiences" (NDE) more than any other type of personal experience. Everyone who has been revived speaks of a bright light, a tunnel, and hearing the voices and or seeing images of the loved ones who have passed before them. Some religious observers claim this must be true because so many people have experienced it. However, this is simply an example of an ad populum argument. I call bullocks on this because the brain does funny things when the body is dying. Scientific explanations for NDE range from the release of chemicals in the brain to a type of emergency REM sleep. Even if science never reaches a consensus on the issue, the overall cause seems to be linked to the brain, not heaven.

Dawkin’s book The Greatest Show on Earth (for those who haven’t read it) has a section where it talks about the unreliability of eye witness accounts. He does this mainly to rebut the common creationist argument that evolution has never been seen firsthand (even though they ignore the Lenski Ecoli experiment). He states the circumstantial, after-the-fact evidence of genetic testing and the fossil record (just to name a few) is far more reliable than seeing something firsthand. He likens it to a murder scene in which a crime is reconstructed just by analyzing what was left behind. This reconstruction is often far more accurate than the description of the murder by someone who witnessed it firsthand. As an example, Dawkins cites the following experiment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo

This is a newer version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGQmdoK_Z...re=related

Blown away? I think these also serve as good examples for why personal experiences are not evidence in favor of God’s existence. Sure, there are people out there with unshakable faith that will ignore this experiment, but there are also people out there with weak faith and or good heads on their shoulders who will be effected by it. This might help them shake of the fetters of superstition and embrace logic and the quest for learning more about the world around them.

Here is another good example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-SBTRLoP...r_embedded – Part I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4V6aoYuD...ure=relmfu – Part II
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14-08-2011, 02:10 PM
 
RE: Examples for debunking "personal experiences" as evidence
(14-08-2011 12:45 PM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  Religious people often give personal experiences or the experiences of friends or family as proof for the existence of God. For instance, my mother (who is not a terribly religious woman) cites a personal experience where she heard the voice of woman tell her to wake up when she had fallen asleep at the wheel. She believes this was the voice of my great aunt who died well before I was born.

It is amazing what people will take as proof for God. At best this would be evidence for the ability for the dead to communicate with the living. How could the voice of a dead relative prove God? Even if there was strong evidence for communication (which there is none) that would in no way prove God or Jesus.

To drive the point home, back in '97, I was talking to my cousin that was in a Protestant seminary. I discussed at some length the possibility that the dead could communicate with the living. (which I beleaved and still beleave is total BS). He said that it was possible, but only with the aid of Satan. I put forth the proposition that maybe certain communications with the dead could be condoned by God. He assured me that under no circumstances could God condone the communication between the living and the dead. As evidence for this conviction he sighted a passage in the New Testament.

I'm sure mother would not go along with the idea that your dead aunt was communication to her using the aid of Satan.So there you go, different Christians claiming mutually incomparable evince as evidence for God.
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14-08-2011, 02:35 PM
RE: Examples for debunking "personal experiences" as evidence
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anecdotal_evidence

http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?t...experience

The God excuse: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument. "God did it." Anything we can't describe must have come from God. - George Carlin

Whenever I'm asked "What if you're wrong?", I always show the asker this video: http://youtu.be/iClejS8vWjo Screw Pascal's wager.
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14-08-2011, 03:22 PM
RE: Examples for debunking "personal experiences" as evidence
(14-08-2011 02:10 PM)santa claus apologist Wrote:  [...]
I'm sure mother would not go along with the idea that your dead aunt was communication to her using the aid of Satan.So there you go, different Christians claiming mutually incomparable evince as evidence for God.

I doubt she would either. In fact, I could really drive the point home by reminding my mother that she committed suicide, a sin punishable by going to hell according to some Christian traditions. So, I doubt she would like the notion that her aunt was talking to her from hell, or that such a nice lady would go to hell for wanting to rid herself of suffering.
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15-08-2011, 11:42 AM
RE: Examples for debunking "personal experiences" as evidence
I created this thread because a person on another forum posted a video about Christian-based NDE testimonials as proof for the existence of God. When I and other members posted videos refuting testimonials as invalid, the OP asked the cliche "Then why is life worth living if there isn't a heaven?" question.
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15-08-2011, 11:51 AM
RE: Examples for debunking "personal experiences" as evidence
(15-08-2011 11:42 AM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  I created this thread because a person on another forum posted a video about Christian-based NDE testimonials as proof for the existence of God. When I and other members posted videos refuting testimonials as invalid, the OP asked the cliche "Then why is life worth living if there isn't a heaven?" question.

The answer to that question should be "because there isn't a heaven."

Evolve
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15-08-2011, 12:05 PM
RE: Examples for debunking "personal experiences" as evidence
(15-08-2011 11:51 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  The answer to that question should be "because there isn't a heaven."

I made that point perfectly clear. I told them the usual answer about how this is the only life they have. They can find meaning in their life by doing X, Y, Z. I also told them how people will live on in the memories of their loved ones, making heaven unnecessary.
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