Religion without supernatural phenomena
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21-06-2014, 09:28 PM
RE: Religion without supernatural phenomena
(21-06-2014 04:44 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  The simple answer I think is being an atheist doesn't make you intelligent and being a theist doesn't mean you are stupid. Human beings have a way of compartmentalizing their beliefs so as to shelter them from criticism and doubt within their mind. This allows people to hold very contradictory beliefs without ever seeing the problem in it. This is also why it is so difficult to change peoples minds or make them see reason. If something threatens a belief that is very important to them, then subconsciously (or sometimes consciously) they just stop listening. This applies to bother atheists and theists alike.

You idea about compartmentalization is definitely true. I see that in myself.
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21-06-2014, 09:36 PM
RE: Religion without supernatural phenomena
(21-06-2014 05:03 PM)Luminon Wrote:  
(21-06-2014 04:40 PM)flim-flam Wrote:  One thing I've noticed in my time on religious forums is that many religious/spiritual people do not believe in supernatural phenomena. I don't understand why these people aren't atheists.

Another thing I've noticed is that a few atheists believe in supernatural phenomena. I don't understand that either.

Of course I don't know how to define supernatural phenomena precisely (that's another problem). But IMO religion doesn't make any sense without believing in supernatural phenomena.

I'm curious what others think. I know religion is hard to define too. Maybe that's my problem.
Some spiritual people believe in lots of "supernatural" phenomena, only their religion says these are all natural, only science hasn't discovered them yet.
That is usually followed by some extremely broad pantheistic definition of god, which is so completely un-god-like, that it's impossible to worship, or lobby for it in the congress.

This is quite a weird and diverse category, because it isn't an organized religion. These people mostly go by personal experience or their standards are pretty low. Vast majority of them are just simple New Age middle-aged folks trying to fill the emptiness of their married lives or broken up relationships with some thrill and sensations. They exchange time and money for experimental straight energetic dope and supposed "spiritual progress". Most of them are rather childish and dissociated, glossing over problems, all feely goody, positive vibes and stuff.

I don't think atheists are any wiser or happier. Better sex, maybe. I have a plenty of objections towards atheists for their political, familial, academical and personal attitudes that basically remain religious even though they technically shouldn't be religious anymore. Families indoctrinate about lots of crap other than God and I really wish atheists would know better.
But sometimes I think, after hanging out with all these people, especially the New Agey ones, maybe we all need therapy and some of us need a shower. Drinking Beverage

I especially agree with your observation about the personality of these religious atheists (highlighted in bold).

I find those people very annoying. I want to grab them by the throat and say "WTF is wrong with you! Can't you see you're an atheist?" I know why I struggle with religion but those people have no excuse for it.
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21-06-2014, 09:46 PM (This post was last modified: 21-06-2014 09:51 PM by flim-flam.)
RE: Religion without supernatural phenomena
(21-06-2014 09:01 PM)Taqiyya Mockingbird Wrote:  There are plenty of Buddhists (Taoists too) who don't believe in anything "supernatural" (The idea of anything being "supernatural" is questionable as well, as I gather you know).

With Buddhism, anyway, the teachings that are attributed to the man we know of as "the Buddha" were entirely secular, devoid of superstition/"supernatural" mumbo-jumbo, though a lot of that has been lost in translation and through the influence of Brahminism (which pretty much swallowed up Buddhism quite early on) and of various cultures and religions which absorbed many of the Buddha's teachings but kept their superstitions (Many forms of Zen, Mahayanists, Abhidhammist Theravadans, and especially the Tibetan religions, which are about as far away form the Buddha's actual teachings as anything could get). But the Buddha's actual teachings do constitute a religion with various doctrines and practices (relating to the roots of human suffering and methods designed to alleviate /eliminate it) and they are atheistic and completely secular.




And yes, many atheists believe in all sorts of mumbo-jumbo nonsense, and can be just as batshit-crazy as the worst case (for example, that idiot "Luminon" who posted here in this thread). I myself do know a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, who has never set foot in a church and is quite disgusted with theism, who nonetheless believes in ghosts. Consider

That's a good point about Buddhism. I suppose I am batshit-crazy too sometimes. Sometimes I'm comfortable with naturalism and sometimes I entertain supernaturalism. The supernaturalism always leads me down a rat hole, so I go back to naturalism.

But on the main point, maybe religion is possible without supernaturalism, but theism is not possible without supernaturalism. Also I think naturalist vs. supernaturalist is a more useful classification than atheist vs. theist. Atheism is hard to define without defining deities, but naturalism is easier to define.
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21-06-2014, 09:59 PM (This post was last modified: 21-06-2014 10:04 PM by Taqiyya Mockingbird.)
RE: Religion without supernatural phenomena
(21-06-2014 09:46 PM)flim-flam Wrote:  But on the main point, maybe religion is possible without supernaturalism, but theism is not possible without supernaturalism. Also I think naturalist vs. supernaturalist is a more useful classification than atheist vs. theist. Atheism is hard to define without defining deities, but naturalism is easier to define.

Agreed.

I should also probably clarify this idea of the Buddha's teachings addressing "suffering" as being in line with the context of the modern saying, "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional".


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22-06-2014, 03:02 AM (This post was last modified: 22-06-2014 03:09 AM by Luminon.)
RE: Religion without supernatural phenomena
(21-06-2014 09:16 PM)flim-flam Wrote:  I didn't know that about the definition of phenomena. I don't understand what the point of supernatural would be if it isn't directly accessible to observation. Probably there are subtleties like you suggest.
Egregious as the claims are, they can all be summed up as a very exaggerated form of plasma physics. Manipulation of matter through EM fields powered by receiving energy from the cosmos. It comes to very strange terminology, where solar wind or the electric whatever flowing between Sun and Earth is called "the fire of space", it is clearly stated that this fire is of electric nature somehow. The teaching says people and all nature can interact with it, even get hurt by it. So it's like "the force" in Star Wars, only it's THE omnipresent flow of charged plasma particles, cosmic radiation and stuff. Very 19th century-ish. Nikola Tesla would smile in his grave. Also, Auguste Comte, G. F. Hegel and other big social theorists. 19th century, the time when exact science was small and the ideas were still big.

(21-06-2014 09:16 PM)flim-flam Wrote:  My proposed definition of supernatural phenomena is: future events that cannot be predicted no matter how much scientific knowledge you have or how much you know about the current state of things. So it's the idea that there is additional metaphysical state governed by metaphysical laws that can somehow affect physical state. Maybe metaphysical state can control the collapse of quantum mechanical probability waves into physical events. I've run this idea by some people on forums who seemed to understand QM and they said it didn't break any rules.

Of course, my proposed definition would classify all QM behavior as supernatural, so it's too broad. I think an additional requirement is purpose; there must be a discernable purpose in the randomness. Gods, spirits, and human souls could exist metaphysically and express their free will by controlling QM without being directly observable. Each individual would need to decide if he/she sees any purpose in the randomness.

That's my pet theory. I think I've observed supernatural phenomena at times, so I've tried to think of ways it might be possible without breaking scientific laws. The other explanation is that I had hallucinations and delusions. Both explanations are unpleasant.
Well, it's a good theory. What it all really hinges upon is the proposed existence of exotic forms of matter, whole array "higher" universes of more than 3-dimensional ghost matter, and of course energy flowing down them like a rain, down on the quantum level - but also the macroscopic level. And interaction of these universes, ours being at the receiving end, always gets the short end of a stick.
It is very similar to the M-theory, the modified sevenfold String theory, because lots of world mythologies (Kabbalah, Hinduism, Christianity) propose some kind of "seven worlds" or "seven heavens".

Those who are supposed to do the "collapsing of the quantum wave" are not any ghosts or spiritual beings, they just sort of... prepare and transmit the waves to be collapsed. The only one who can do that are people, with their brains, minds and actions, requiring worldly knowledge. Especially people sensitive to the higher worlds, the higher, the better. These people are called "starseeds" or "lightworkers" and they're supposed to somehow awaken people to higher awareness through their work in whatever they do.

Today they mostly do the New Age crap and mythology like dancing on meadows and burying orgonite slabs, chanting and laying on hands. But if I disregard all that and go back to the pre-WW2 origins of the New Age, the "magic" is actually meant as a combination of personal development, activism and plasma physics. People are told they have "multiple bodies" of ghost matter or plasma that work like our psychology, or rather they ARE our psychology. So the plasma physics stuff pretty much takes care of itself and people should focus on the social activism and personal development. They are supposed to gain experience in meditation, in the light of which the obscure references in books will start making more sense.

The modern general New Age literature isn't like that, it's always explicit, beings X from planet Y want you to do Z, or A happens if you do, B happens if you don't. For the general mass of followers with average IQ this never gets old. My parents were running a long time in this kind of hamster wheel. I hate to say that, but they seem to have turned from the runners to the hamster keepers.
Some "lightworkers" are supposed to do a better job of translating the pre-war literature to today's believers, but damn if they actually do. Keeping followers and being a follower is the end of any kind of social activism or personal development.
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22-06-2014, 07:30 AM (This post was last modified: 22-06-2014 07:33 AM by flim-flam.)
RE: Religion without supernatural phenomena
(22-06-2014 03:02 AM)Luminon Wrote:  
(21-06-2014 09:16 PM)flim-flam Wrote:  I didn't know that about the definition of phenomena. I don't understand what the point of supernatural would be if it isn't directly accessible to observation. Probably there are subtleties like you suggest.
Egregious as the claims are, they can all be summed up as a very exaggerated form of plasma physics. Manipulation of matter through EM fields powered by receiving energy from the cosmos. It comes to very strange terminology, where solar wind or the electric whatever flowing between Sun and Earth is called "the fire of space", it is clearly stated that this fire is of electric nature somehow. The teaching says people and all nature can interact with it, even get hurt by it. So it's like "the force" in Star Wars, only it's THE omnipresent flow of charged plasma particles, cosmic radiation and stuff. Very 19th century-ish. Nikola Tesla would smile in his grave. Also, Auguste Comte, G. F. Hegel and other big social theorists. 19th century, the time when exact science was small and the ideas were still big.

(21-06-2014 09:16 PM)flim-flam Wrote:  My proposed definition of supernatural phenomena is: future events that cannot be predicted no matter how much scientific knowledge you have or how much you know about the current state of things. So it's the idea that there is additional metaphysical state governed by metaphysical laws that can somehow affect physical state. Maybe metaphysical state can control the collapse of quantum mechanical probability waves into physical events. I've run this idea by some people on forums who seemed to understand QM and they said it didn't break any rules.

Of course, my proposed definition would classify all QM behavior as supernatural, so it's too broad. I think an additional requirement is purpose; there must be a discernable purpose in the randomness. Gods, spirits, and human souls could exist metaphysically and express their free will by controlling QM without being directly observable. Each individual would need to decide if he/she sees any purpose in the randomness.

That's my pet theory. I think I've observed supernatural phenomena at times, so I've tried to think of ways it might be possible without breaking scientific laws. The other explanation is that I had hallucinations and delusions. Both explanations are unpleasant.
Well, it's a good theory. What it all really hinges upon is the proposed existence of exotic forms of matter, whole array "higher" universes of more than 3-dimensional ghost matter, and of course energy flowing down them like a rain, down on the quantum level - but also the macroscopic level. And interaction of these universes, ours being at the receiving end, always gets the short end of a stick.
It is very similar to the M-theory, the modified sevenfold String theory, because lots of world mythologies (Kabbalah, Hinduism, Christianity) propose some kind of "seven worlds" or "seven heavens".

Those who are supposed to do the "collapsing of the quantum wave" are not any ghosts or spiritual beings, they just sort of... prepare and transmit the waves to be collapsed. The only one who can do that are people, with their brains, minds and actions, requiring worldly knowledge. Especially people sensitive to the higher worlds, the higher, the better. These people are called "starseeds" or "lightworkers" and they're supposed to somehow awaken people to higher awareness through their work in whatever they do.

Today they mostly do the New Age crap and mythology like dancing on meadows and burying orgonite slabs, chanting and laying on hands. But if I disregard all that and go back to the pre-WW2 origins of the New Age, the "magic" is actually meant as a combination of personal development, activism and plasma physics. People are told they have "multiple bodies" of ghost matter or plasma that work like our psychology, or rather they ARE our psychology. So the plasma physics stuff pretty much takes care of itself and people should focus on the social activism and personal development. They are supposed to gain experience in meditation, in the light of which the obscure references in books will start making more sense.

The modern general New Age literature isn't like that, it's always explicit, beings X from planet Y want you to do Z, or A happens if you do, B happens if you don't. For the general mass of followers with average IQ this never gets old. My parents were running a long time in this kind of hamster wheel. I hate to say that, but they seem to have turned from the runners to the hamster keepers.
Some "lightworkers" are supposed to do a better job of translating the pre-war literature to today's believers, but damn if they actually do. Keeping followers and being a follower is the end of any kind of social activism or personal development.

I don't know anything about New Age and magic, so it's hard for me to understand what you are saying about plasma and changes to New Age beliefs after WWII. Your description is good, but it assumes some background in those beliefs that I don't have.

Here are some questions. (I'll use psi instead of magic, because I think that makes it more generic.)
- Do you believe science will discover laws to predict psi?
- Are there experimental tests of psi with positive results?
- Does science have assumptions that make it useless for psi?
- Are humans more than our physical bodies? Could an android do psi?
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22-06-2014, 08:53 AM
RE: Religion without supernatural phenomena
(21-06-2014 09:01 PM)Taqiyya Mockingbird Wrote:  There are plenty of Buddhists (Taoists too) who don't believe in anything "supernatural" (The idea of anything being "supernatural" is questionable as well, as I gather you know).

With Buddhism, anyway, the teachings that are attributed to the man we know of as "the Buddha" were entirely secular, devoid of superstition/"supernatural" mumbo-jumbo, though a lot of that has been lost in translation and through the influence of Brahminism (which pretty much swallowed up Buddhism quite early on) and of various cultures and religions which absorbed many of the Buddha's teachings but kept their superstitions (Many forms of Zen, Mahayanists, Abhidhammist Theravadans, and especially the Tibetan religions, which are about as far away form the Buddha's actual teachings as anything could get). But the Buddha's actual teachings do constitute a religion with various doctrines and practices (relating to the roots of human suffering and methods designed to alleviate /eliminate it) and they are atheistic and completely secular.

Thank you for saying this. I often have trouble explaining why Siddharta's teachings were secular. Theists and atheists alike often get confused by this because they have seen certain sects of Buddhist cultures that believe in supernatural things. What I try to get across is that different cultures added their own cultural beliefs into Siddharta's teachings, so that you get a lot of confusion on what was originally taught, as opposed to what these different cultures practice. You can get some pretty angry responses from members on Buddhist forums when you talk about the original teachings being void of supernatural beliefs. It's because people take this not as insult to Buddhism itself, but an insult to their culture. That is why I avoid Buddhist forums myself.

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22-06-2014, 10:55 AM (This post was last modified: 22-06-2014 11:09 AM by Luminon.)
RE: Religion without supernatural phenomena
(22-06-2014 07:30 AM)flim-flam Wrote:  I don't know anything about New Age and magic, so it's hard for me to understand what you are saying about plasma and changes to New Age beliefs after WWII. Your description is good, but it assumes some background in those beliefs that I don't have.

Here are some questions. (I'll use psi instead of magic, because I think that makes it more generic.)
- Do you believe science will discover laws to predict psi?
We've had here big discussions with local skeptics about such topics, so I'll keep this very careful, if not brief.

- This psi you talk of is said to be simply an electricity, or what electricity "really" is. The mysterious part is, what is the exotic "ghost matter" in which it flows. This hypothesized "ghost matter" of higher universes is said to be all plasma. Anyway, 99 % of this universe's visible matter is plasma too, all these suns, you know. Plasma is very electrically conductive, so this is really a view of universe mostly from electric point of view.
So technically, science is already supposed to know these laws. What science doesn't know yet, is what role do these forces play in living organisms, especially human. The currents flowing in the living tissue are microscopic, of course. Even so, there are rumors of people getting damaged or burnt by experiments.

(22-06-2014 07:30 AM)flim-flam Wrote:  - Are there experimental tests of psi with positive results?
- Again, this is a very controversial question. I have seen some results myself and I have my personal pet theories based on my experiences. But in science you never know for sure, unless there are several papers published in a peer-reviewed journal and there seem to be very few of these.
The very best piece of research I found in a very long time are Biologically Closed Electric Circuits discovered by a radiologist Bjorn Nordenstrom. You see this is a very medical topic, but I noticed it because it proposes a scientific mechanism for the energy channels called "meridians" of traditional Chinese medicine or the "nadis" of Vedic religion.

(22-06-2014 07:30 AM)flim-flam Wrote:  - Does science have assumptions that make it useless for psi?
- I don't know exactly what do you mean by this question. But from the point of view of New Age, this "psi", even though the universe is supposed to be full of it, has too high "frequency" whatever that means. The only places where it interacts most clearly is the human organism, because it is composed of all these "ghost bodies" that provide a conduit for "psi" to be stepped down to the flesh, like a transformer with common voltage.
Scientists think of electricity and exotic things like dark matter as something lifeless out there in the universe and they are right, only they should also look into patterns of microscopic voltages flowing in living human tissue.
Of course, I was told many times that I should do experiments and write papers. I usually reply with the bias of government funding and prejudices contained in the present paradigm, that sees the body as a chemical machine, not electric. Also, I am far too busy dealing with family problems.

(22-06-2014 07:30 AM)flim-flam Wrote:  - Are humans more than our physical bodies?
Hey, you ask me as if I could prove that to you. I can't.
I personally came to an opinion, through meditation, philosophy and some odd facts from physics, that there is indeed more than our biology, but most of the rest is just a theory for me. In theory, our body and tangible universe is the least powered, the least real thing in existence. The energetic rays of the sun pass through our supposedly solid matter as if it wasn't there.

I am somewhat of a medical anomaly. The Chinese meridians or Indian nadis, I can feel them in my body, I can flex the "psi" or Chi as we flex our muscles. I can feel other phenomena of body electricity, field and "ghost bodies", because they're all parts of one mechanism. That's why I'm interested in this stuff. Maybe I am hallucinating, but if so, then I am hallucinating in the right way and I can't be blamed for believing it. I need to read through the old New Age books to explain what is happening to my body and I use my body to tell me if the New Age books are lying or not.
I am probably a victim of maternal neglect and abusive, dysfunctional family. There is a chance I suffer to some degree from a Reactive Attachment Disorder. When I have looked it up online, I came upon this quote:
Those RAD patients who regain awareness of sensation in their bodies describe feeling that they lack a sense of containment. It is as if their nerve endings do not stop at their skin but continue, unbearably, forever into space. There is no constraint on their nervous systems.
This is a very accurate way to put it, only it's not unbearable for me. I was always like that. It may be that I can feel the nadis and other electric-like stuff, because of the hyper-sensitivity. I might want to contact the author some day.

(22-06-2014 07:30 AM)flim-flam Wrote:  Could an android do psi?
This question makes me feel as if a Spiderman fan would ask me if Superman can eat human food if he's powered by the Sun Tongue
But anyway, it's my hobby. I will not talk about the teachings themselves, because that's incomprehensible unless you have some personal experience with that. But there are technical parallels to be drawn to present science.
No, I don't think an android could do "psi". No more than a plant or a mineral (which is not zero according to New Agey people). Hell, most people can't do that much better than an animal.
"But the Fire of Cosmos cannot be manifested in its full power, for the human essence would then be reduced to ashes - except in the case of one who has consecrated himself to Fire, passing in his own flesh through all the stages of approach to the fiery element."
Any yogi (Jedi Tongue ) will tell you the ability to attract more of the Force Tongue is determined by one's purity of body (vegetarianism, Hatha yoga), loving heart (Bhakti yoga), learned mind (Jnana yoga), purified energy channels (Laya yoga), worldly service (Karma yoga), and a couple other yogas that are fairly exotic and integrate all the previously said plus activism and change of outlook on life.
For the record, "passing the fire through one's flesh" is a main point in Laya yoga and also a part of Raja Yoga and Agni yoga, from which this quote originates. It's an almost pleasant feeling, usually.

From this point of view, a human being is basically nothing else but an android of sorts. Human body is a chemically powered pump and dynamo, that powers an electro-magnet in the axis of the spine. At one pole of the spine is a big organic semi-conducting crystal, which controls the whole thing. However, thoughts are things too and being at the pole, the field attracts signals into the brain, which are interpreted as ideas, if the field is strong enough and the brain is trained.
The difference to a normal android is, that human body is supposed to be a receiving end of a succession of "ghost bodies" that make all the difference. If I'd be "spiritually correct", they are more true part of ourselves than our biology. A being made of one kind of matter only is called an "elemental", regardless if organic or anorganic. However, some metals are said to have an influence on the "psi".
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22-06-2014, 11:08 AM
RE: Religion without supernatural phenomena
For tall the problems with Luminon's views please see this thread. http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...hypothesis

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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22-06-2014, 11:13 AM
RE: Religion without supernatural phenomena
(22-06-2014 11:08 AM)Revenant77x Wrote:  For tall the problems with Luminon's views please see this thread. http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...hypothesis
Yeah, it's problematic, especially because of a lack of positive evidence from academic science and discrepancy in precise scientific meanings of what is "plasma", "energy", "electric potential" and so on. Most of what I say is a subject for social and cultural studies, not physics.
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