How would you as an atheist describe this?
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14-03-2017, 04:26 AM
How would you as an atheist describe this?
I was heavily into the new age scene, and for a while thought I was possessed by demons. But I went to the doctor and she said I had PTSD from being abused as a child, and my therapist said I had a transient psychotic episode.

My mum tried to get me to become a Christian, and I saw visions of Jesus and stuff, but I know that could all just be hallucinations due to my mental health.

The questions that I have is how would you explain these particular instances in my life:

1. I went out with a guy who was into new age too, and twice we shared a telepathic moment where we heard exactly the same thing in our minds very clearly at exactly the same time. We confirmed this together... How do you explain that?

2. I saw a distance new age 'energy healer' via Skype once and she lit frankincense and myrrh in her room and immediately I felt the wind from the flame and smelled it even though I had never smelled frankincense and myrrh before. I later the next day went into town and bought that exact same incense and it smelled the same as when she lit it in her room. How do you explain this?

Those are the two main things I cannot get my head around. Everything else I can see as having a science-y explanation, except those two things. I kinda want to be atheist these days because I am done with psychotic hallucinations. But I need to have a reason and some proper understanding as to these events in my life...

Thank you all.
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14-03-2017, 04:52 AM (This post was last modified: 14-03-2017 04:56 AM by Robvalue.)
RE: How would you as an atheist describe this?
I'm sorry to hear about what you have suffered through Sad

I don't know. Without being able to study either of these scenarios, it's not possible to put forward any explanation. It would just be guesses.

But not having an explanation is fine. It doesn't mean that "it was magic". It just means we don't know. I'm sorry if that makes you uncomfortable. It's that very discomfort that makes people jump to "woo" explanations, if they don't have a proper one.

Mind playing tricks, coincidences and unreliable memories account for a lot though.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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14-03-2017, 04:56 AM
RE: How would you as an atheist describe this?
You're on the right track, asking skeptical questions instead of just believing what your mind is telling you that you see/experience.

It turns out our brains trick us all the time, especially if we have psychological conditions and/or mis-wiring. There are a number of videos on the subject of how our brains fool us, and how we have experimentally determined this to be the case.

There are many things to read about how our brains lie to us, but here's a fun place to start:





I also recommend looking into the research on "The God Helmet", as it's commonly called, and how metaphysical (magical) experiences can be artificially generated.

But the main thing to note here is to ask to consider that your "magical powers" supposedly granted by New Age mysticism are in direct conflict with the principle of demons (and the rest of Christianity's claims about the spiritual world), unless you are claiming that you are gaining powers from demons... part of Christian lore. It might do you some good to look into the invention and evolution of the notion of Satan and his demons, and how it picked up many of its ideas from disparate pagan religions along the way. Christianity steals most of its ideas, and adapts them.

And I note that this seems to be what "New Age" spiritualism is doing to the Christian mythology, in the modern day.

By what mechanism do you think the frankincense and myrrh (borrowed from Christian mythology... as if they have powers of their own instead of being "what was expensive in the Ancient Near East"... neat trick, huckster lady!) managed to get to where you are? Teleportation? Magical gateways?

Also, what makes you so sure it smelled exactly like what you imagined, before? Are you unaware of how easily our minds plasticize memories to fit new information? (Police abuse this tactic to get witnesses to confess to things they didn't do, or to implicate someone who is innocent, all the time... it's why there's so often a confession or direct ID of the "suspect", even in cases where DNA later proves the guy couldn't have done it.)

Without more information, I can't comment on the "same thought in head at same time" telepathy allegation, but I know that I have identical thoughts with my close friends all the time... we have similar personalities, knowledge, and cultural experiences. When it does happen that we have simultaneous ideas, we use bias to "count the hits and ignore the misses", forgetting conveniently that most of the time we are *not* in synch, as one would expect if there was real telepathy going on.

Respectfully, I think you are being taken advantage of by hucksters. This is despicable to me because of your own psychological problems, which I see in their case as preying on the vulnerable. Before you continue on, I suspect you bolster your defenses by reading Carl Sagan's brief but excellent guide to skeptical thinking, the Baloney Detection Kit, in the essay The Fine Art of Baloney Detection (in .pdf format, below).

http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/pmo/en...aloney.pdf

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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14-03-2017, 05:00 AM
RE: How would you as an atheist describe this?
Good points, yes. Our senses and our memories are unreliable. That's why it's important to gather repeatable, testable evidence before reaching conclusions whenever possible. Single instances of anything don't really mean much.

We're never going to know everything. We just try and build reliable models as far as we can.

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14-03-2017, 05:18 AM
RE: How would you as an atheist describe this?
Thank you all. It's definitely food for thought. I really appreciate having other ways to see the situation. I will watch that video a bit later because it looks very interesting. I have seen evidence of our senses being tricked like this before and this is why I don't believe a lot of what I experienced. For example, I had a vision from 'God', when I was baptized by my mum that that guy would be with me for the rest of my life. But I think that was my own desires making it up. We broke up and now I'm with someone else.

A bit about my religious history: My mum is a Christian (very lovely and progressive), she married an abusive man when I was three, who pretended to be Christian and used the worst verses in the bible to further his own twisted agenda (for example: strike your child with a rod)... when they got divorced when I was 18 I fell away and didn't believe in Christianity. I turned to new age and got in pretty deep, loads of crazy things were happening to me (my psychotic episode) but my mum said it was demons. So I turned back to christianity to be rid of the demons. But still nothing changed. Only going to the doctor and being put on medication (antidepressants, antipsychotics, and sedative pills) actually helped, and I started to get better.

Now I am wondering what the heck all this was about. It's very confusing and I always ask Jesus to strengthen my faith since I saw him in a vision and I'm open that maybe it wasn't an hallucination, but my rational just tells me different, and these days even new age seems stupid, not just Christianity but all religion just doesn't make sense anymore. I feel like I was living under a haze of lies and illusions...
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14-03-2017, 05:37 AM
RE: How would you as an atheist describe this?
Hi welcome Smile

1. If you and your friend were both in the same place, you were both subjected to the same type of stimulus. It is possible you thought the same thing at the same time. Additionally, the fact that you are friends means you have a few things in common, so not necessarily weird that you may have thought about the same thing at the same time. Coincidences happen.

2. Power of suggestion.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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14-03-2017, 05:39 AM
RE: How would you as an atheist describe this?
(14-03-2017 05:18 AM)hayleymayonline Wrote:  I feel like I was living under a haze of lies and illusions...

That's religion in a nutshell. Good luck on your journey but you are on your way to a better way of life.

Edit: By the way, love the shades.

"If you keep trying to better yourself that's enough for me. We don't decide which hand we are dealt in life, but we make the decision to play it or fold it" - Nishi Karano Kaze
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14-03-2017, 05:49 AM
RE: How would you as an atheist describe this?
I think you are doing really well, you've been through a lot. I hope you can find the support you need here to help you progress.

It's extremely clear to me that all religion and all forms of woo are total bullshit, but that's really easy for me as I've never had them programmed into me. I have a lot of respect for anyone who has been indoctrinated and finds the strength to fight their way out.

Carry on questioning, and don't accept what anyone says unless they provide evidence! Proper, scientific evidence. Not pseudo-scientific arguments, or attempts to squeeze magic into gaps of knowledge.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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14-03-2017, 07:52 AM
RE: How would you as an atheist describe this?
(14-03-2017 05:18 AM)hayleymayonline Wrote:  Thank you all. It's definitely food for thought. I really appreciate having other ways to see the situation. I will watch that video a bit later because it looks very interesting. I have seen evidence of our senses being tricked like this before and this is why I don't believe a lot of what I experienced. For example, I had a vision from 'God', when I was baptized by my mum that that guy would be with me for the rest of my life. But I think that was my own desires making it up. We broke up and now I'm with someone else.

A bit about my religious history: My mum is a Christian (very lovely and progressive), she married an abusive man when I was three, who pretended to be Christian and used the worst verses in the bible to further his own twisted agenda (for example: strike your child with a rod)... when they got divorced when I was 18 I fell away and didn't believe in Christianity. I turned to new age and got in pretty deep, loads of crazy things were happening to me (my psychotic episode) but my mum said it was demons. So I turned back to christianity to be rid of the demons. But still nothing changed. Only going to the doctor and being put on medication (antidepressants, antipsychotics, and sedative pills) actually helped, and I started to get better.

Now I am wondering what the heck all this was about. It's very confusing and I always ask Jesus to strengthen my faith since I saw him in a vision and I'm open that maybe it wasn't an hallucination, but my rational just tells me different, and these days even new age seems stupid, not just Christianity but all religion just doesn't make sense anymore. I feel like I was living under a haze of lies and illusions...

In terms of your Jesus vision, why do you think your vision included only the deity you were raised with and not say, Zeus, for instance? If no one ever told you about Jesus, you would not be having visions of him since you would not even know who he was. It's not difficult to brainwash people into thinking their beliefs were their ideas. Various religions do it successfully every day. Just remember you weren't born knowing who Jesus was. That should show you right there that religion is a learned behavior.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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14-03-2017, 08:14 AM
RE: How would you as an atheist describe this?
Welcome to TTA, Haley. I hope you enjoy your stay here.

I cannot prove anything one way or another about your experiences, whether they're mystical or otherwise. I strongly suspect that they are the result of confirmation bias and power of suggestion.

Most of us - myself included - have had experiences which might be perceived as mystical or even otherworldly. But given that human perception is, at best, subjective and prone to error, to base a worldview (theism, deism, mysticism) on those perceptions is, IMO, to base it on falsehoods.

The human brain is a pattern-seeking organ and will often create straight lines between events that have no straight line between them. We subscribe agency to non-agent events. That's not always a bad thing, but it does mean that we can easily be fooled into thinking events have an intelligence behind them when they actually don't.

For instance, we see patterns in clouds. [Image: %20reuse%20fee%20apples%20-%20Clouds%20t...0C%20Tough]
A seahorse, perhaps?

Some people saw a human face on Mars.
[Image: face_on_mars.jpg]

And here's a galaxy that looks like it's giving us the finger:
[Image: screw-you-galaxy.jpg]

Do any of these things have agency - an intelligence behind them?

No. Not at all. But it sure looks like they do.

That's our faulty perception at work.
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