Believers VS Non-belivers

(490 Posts)

Why is it that if someone believes in something, they will talk about it as exactly that - something they believe in - and not portray it as absolute fact; yet if someone doesn't believe in something, they will say this as an absolute fact and ridicule those who believe?

It's almost as if those who don't believe (in whatever the subject: angels, God, reincarnation) consider themselves superior to those who do, and view those who do as stupid for doing so.

Surely everyone's beliefs are their own belief and opinion - nothing "woo" can be either proven or disproven, so therefore nobody is right or wrong.

It just seems that every thread that starts "Do you believe" on this board ends up in a bun fight with believes defending themselves against non-believers who tell them they're being ridiculous. The clue is in the title of the board - if you don't believe in anything that's likely to be discussed under that heading, just avoid the board!

HowardTJMoon Sat 07-Jun-14 13:20:10

Why is it that if someone believes in something, they will talk about it as exactly that - something they believe in - and not portray it as absolute fact

Absolutely. Why, I remember being taught the Lords Prayer at school with its first line of "Our Father, who while I may personally believe to inhabit Heaven, I accept as a matter of personal belief and not a statement of fact..."

CorusKate Sat 07-Jun-14 13:23:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JodieGarberJacob Sat 07-Jun-14 13:25:02

I very rarely see the bun-fights on here but if you say 'I believe' then it's a belief, if you say 'there are angels' then you are saying it's a fact not a belief. Likewise non-believers. I say there's no god. Not because I believe there's no god, I know there's no god.

Tuo Sat 07-Jun-14 14:00:46

Threads with the title 'Do you believe...?' are asking a question - a question to which the answer 'no' is perfectly valid. I don't therefore think that there's anything wrong with people who don't in fact believe whatever it is to post to that effect. Of course, one would always hope that posters, of whatever persuasion on a particular issue, would treat others with respect and not abuse or belittle them for their beliefs, but that's in general (the same could be said of the breast/bottle threads, or the private/state ones, or any number of other vaguely controversial topics).

I'd contrast threads that ask 'Do you believe...?' with something like the Christian Prayer Thread (which is where I mostly post). It's fairly clear that that thread is aimed at believers (though it's open to all, and we're sometimes visited by posters of other faiths, or by non-believers passing on requests on behalf of others, and all are very welcome) and I can honestly say that no-one has ever posted on one of those threads to say 'I think that prayer is all a load of rubbish' or whatever. However, if I posted to say 'Do you believe in the power of prayer?' then I'd be expecting that some posters would say 'yes' and others (maybe the majority) would say 'no'.

That doesn't mean that I don't recognise some of what you are saying. But I think that, in general, robust debate is a good thing, and that's what debate threads are for, whereas support threads are another matter.

Would it be helpful to categorise posts so that the different types of thread are made clear in the title.

Support - I'm struggling with church at the moment.
Debate - Why do people go to church?

Support - Anyone else studying philosophy?
Debate - What is truth?

Just a suggestion.

sunshinemmum Sat 07-Jun-14 19:44:06

I honestly think that would help Green, but only if there was some sort of footnote or a reinforcement of the talk guidelines under this section heading. In most other sections goading or trolling is monitored and posts removed. It rarely happens here.

"if someone believes in something, they will talk about it as exactly that - something they believe in - and not portray it as absolute fact"

Sometimes that is how it works, but often religious people decide it is fact and try and force it on the rest of us.

When was the last time an atheist knocked on your door to tell you that you are going to die with no after-life? Yet I have been told many times that I and my children will burn in hell for eternity because I won't join someone's church. You are allowed to put that on signs outside churches and even visit schools to tell the kids that.

Also if you heard someone say "yes eating toadstools is good for you" wouldn't you feel a duty to point out that this is incorrect and dangerous advice?

"nothing "woo" can be either proven or disproven, so therefore nobody is right or wrong"

Wrong.

Take homoeopathy for example. That's been tested and proven not to work. Every time someone says it does work I shall say "no it doesn't" and I will wonder if they are spreading disinformation maliciously or because they are stupid.

In the matter of religion it's not possible to prove that there isn't some kind of god somewhere, but it's quite easy to prove that a particular god with a particular set of habits is a lie. Most religions are not consistent internally or with known facts.

I don't leap on everyone who has beliefs to tell them they are wrong. If someone is having a crisis of faith for example then they really are suffering (even though pointlessly) and I can sympathise with that.

Btw was this inspired by the guardian angel thread? If not you might want to check it out. I was just catching up on it and at least one poster claims their beliefs are fact. There's a bit of a debate on the ethics of charging people for using your magical powers to treat them.

beatingwings Sun 08-Jun-14 07:40:09

"Why is it that if someone believes in something, they will talk about it as exactly that - something they believe in - and not portray it as absolute fact"

Ha ha - that's a laugh.

Not the religious and evangelical people I have met. Thay absolutely know that their belief is fact- no question at all.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 07:55:50

If we're talking about Christianity, then obviously what people believe is their own business. The problem comes when their belief impinges on the lives of others. And in this country Christianity does.

If you're talking about "woo" - then once again, believe what you want. But don't go on about "disrespect" when people point out the scientific evidence against your particular "thing". And if you say something like "yes, I have read all the properly conducted, double blind trials which show that [eg] homeopathy doesn't work, but I took a remedy for a cold and only 5 day later my cold was better so I believe in it" then surely you should expect o be challenged on it?

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 08:11:23

I see what you are saying OP but if you absolutely believe something to be true, with every fibre of your being, before much too much time you will be talking about it in terms of fact, because you truly believe it.

I have to continually remind myself, because a lot of what I believe is by faith, that is not proven in the most absolute scientific empirical sense, other posters will not exercise their faith in the same things as myself. To be very honest I forget sometimes, to state what I take by faith is my belief because I do believe it IYSWIM.

And it is this forgetfulness that riles the more scientifically (in terms of their world view of truth) inclined....I usually do have to reiterate I talk in terms of my faith and belief at some point in the conversation.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 08:21:17

I think a personal faith is a different thing- it goes without saying that it can't be proved- that's rather the point "Lord, I believe- help thou my unbelief". It would obviously be pointless to challenge a personal faith like that- all the person concerned could say is "yes, I see that it is illogical and unprovable- nevertheless I believe"

The problem comes with Christianity when either people claim categorically that prayer works directly- or they claim special privileges because of their faith or they try to impose their faith on other people. All of these are untenable positions, and people should,surely, be expected to be challenged on them.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 08:27:43

Hak you cannot impose faith, by the definition of what faith is. Faith is by choice, take the choice away and you are not talking about belief through faith at all, you are talking about belief through ignorance, which gets nobody nowhere.

Talking about your own faith, belief and experiences is not imposing your faith on anyone IMO.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 08:33:42

You can't impose faith- but you can impose faith schools and compulsory Christian worship in non faith schools and an automatic Christian input into all law and policy making.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 08:42:55

But it is not, strictly speaking, worship, if you don't believe in what is being worshipped...and parents can opt their children out of worship if they wish. However, yes, schools do have to provide Christian worship, which some do find problematic.

As for law and policy making there are all sorts of inequalities of opportunity within our system, peerage being another, Quangos being another.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 09:01:39

Yes- of course there are other unfairnesses. But I thought we were talking about faith and the areas where it impinges on public life?

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 09:05:31

Are we?

OP was talking about believers being able to talk about their beliefs on MN without being ridiculed. Talking about beliefs on MN, within the talk guidelines, does not impinge on public life.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 09:11:53

And I said there was a difference between personal faith- which by definition is not amenable to reason and is therefore not really a debating point, and faith which impinges on others, which is absolute fair game.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 09:19:20

How does faith impinge on others, in terms of MN discussion boards, Hak?

Talking about your own faith, belief and experiences is not imposing your faith on anyone IMO.

It need not be, but of course that's not what Hakluyt was referring to and you knew it really.

I do wonder what you and other religious people would say if you caught me telling your kids/family in the local park that 'mummy only pretends god exists because she is evil and sick inside and wants you all to suffer'

If you complained I could say "Hey! you can remove them from the park if you don't approve".

take the choice away and you are not talking about belief through faith at all, you are talking about belief through ignorance, which gets nobody nowhere.

That's an interesting position, Capsium, and one you might want to start a thread about some time. I'd be on your side in that one.

After all there are lots of religious people who think it's wrong to tell kids that other religions exist or that scientific proof for evolution exists and so on. Presumably they think belief through ignorance is the best kind.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 09:54:37

I do wonder what you and other religious people would say if you caught me telling your kids/family in the local park that 'mummy only pretends god exists because she is evil and sick inside and wants you all to suffer'

? Surely you don't believe this Back? So is this very likely?

Here, on this thread, I am talking in terms of MN discussion of beliefs, within talk guidelines, which does not include saying offensive things to children and their parents.

After all there are lots of religious people who think it's wrong to tell kids that other religions exist or that scientific proof for evolution exists and so on. Presumably they think belief through ignorance is the best kind.

I cannot speak for them, Back, I stand by what I said earlier, in that I do believe through ignorance is not desirable and distinctly different to choosing to believe through faith.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 10:21:48

I know some pretty fervent Christians who have views that I find challenging, but I see far more people imposing their atheist viewpoint as fact on these boards. I mostly stick to the prayer threads and support, rather than the debate, because I find them safer and less tedious.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 10:32:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 10:41:05

That would be fine except posters don't respect Christian threads asking for support from other Christians, or threads asking specifically to discuss Christian literature. There are people who aim to ridicule, in order to hammer home their unbelief as here on the angel thread.

Absolutely. I will ridicule the ridiculous. You think it would be good if we couldn't?

You wouldn't do this in the other sections, where people asked for support, for example in the relationship threads or in the mental health section. As Green suggests up thread there should be some sort of way of stopping this bombardment, by flagging up support threads, which are clearly not asking for debate.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 10:52:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 10:54:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 11:11:46

Yes but seeking to ridicule is not demonstrating debate, IMO. Whilst you have a point on that thread another poster is calling for another to be challenged by others, because she feels she has proof to the contrary.

I think that the behaviour of these people on these boards, limits the number of threads around faith. I am disinclined to start threads, that I otherwise would have on Christian studies or, because of the amount of heckling on. Threads which don't invite debate. are still ambushed (as I have said in my previous post), even if they are specifically calling for support from people who share the same belief.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 11:25:34

I have never seen a Christian prayer thread "ambushed".

No but others are.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 13:55:35

So are you saying that nobody should ever question anyone else's beliefs? That people of faith should be uniquely privileged and never be challenged? Certainly that's how it seems.

Support threads are not about challenging beliefs. Support threads are about support and that is why I've suggested we separate them out.

When it comes to debate there are ways of questioning and challenging that are not about ridiculing or assumptions that all people of faith are fundementalists.

Scousadelic Sun 08-Jun-14 14:25:58

I would find a person saying 'mummy only pretends god exists because she is evil and sick inside and wants you all to suffer' to a child horribly offensive and would happily challenge them on it. Just as I find 'I will ridicule the ridiculous' offensive when said about somebody else's faith or beliefs. That kind of proves the point that the problem is not the belief itself but is when anyone is so certain in it they have the arrogance to think they can impose it on others

I find myself unlikely to post on threads about faith or "woo" despite finding it interesting to discuss because of the nastiness that is allowed to happen time after time. I'm sure there are a lot of others who feel this way and think that is a shame

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 14:31:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 14:38:44

I agree with Scous, any attempt for people to share experiences are marred by the constant assertions that what they are talking about is complete nonsense. The problem is that nothing will change. Scous and other posters probably won't want to use the boards as much as they would like to and any specific support threads based around belief systems will be ridiculed. I don't see any fragility around the arguments that these posters put forward, just sense their frustration and the never ending rounds of bad netiquette.

I have withdrawn from the other thread, because my contributions aren't helping to get the topic back on track. But I know, without a doubt, that different posters at different times, will challenge the goading and personal attacks to no avail.

gamerchick Sun 08-Jun-14 14:52:03

What i've gleaned over the past few days is that non believers have so much contempt for believers and so can't allow any chat happen 'just in case it turns into something else' I did find that amusing.. if we didn't allow threads just in case then there would be no mumsnet grin You cant reason with that level of arrogance who can't comprehend the words 'sometimes we don't want to debate, we just want to chat'.. it does not compute in their world of superiority.

So the only answer is:

make the title as boring as possible and fill the first page full of pushchairs or something in an attempt to make those on the hunt click off in search of something more interesting.

If said thread is discovered and the pile in starts.. we must make a conscious effort to totally ignore, do not engage in debate and if somebody cracks then we just go and start a new thread somewhere else.

tongue firmly in cheek wink

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 14:57:02

[gamer] Or woo thread for woo people, wishing to access support for discussions about woo, without a non woo perspective (in short this is about woo not you). wink

gamerchick Sun 08-Jun-14 15:05:27

grin

So the clue is in the title and a carefully worded first post so it can't be used as an. excuse for 'debate'.

I like it

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 15:09:18

"Support threads are not about challenging beliefs."

No, of course they aren't. And nobody does.

Scousadelic Sun 08-Jun-14 16:37:02

I'm not even looking for support, just a discussion in a supportive environment rather than bile. I'm quite happy to be disagreed with and really enjoy hearing different points of view, I do even change my mind on occasion after hearing something persuasive but do not appreciate me or my comments/beliefs just being ridiculed or insulted

HermioneWeasley Sun 08-Jun-14 16:42:55

"Why is it that if someone believes in something, they will talk about it as exactly that - something they believe in - and not portray it as absolute fact"

That is hilarious. There are countless examples of people seeking to impose their beliefs on others, even their bodily autonomy (remember the Indian woman who died because catholic Ireland won't allow abortion?). Christians even enjoy protected seats in the House of Lords, so get to disproportionately influence law making.

If religious and woo people could and would keep their fanciful beliefs to themselves, then i suggest there would be far fewer people seeking to ridicule them.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 16:46:33

That is hilarious. There are countless examples of people seeking to impose their beliefs on others

On these boards? I took it to mean OP was specifically referring to this forum.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 16:49:06

If religious and woo people could and would keep their fanciful beliefs to themselves, then i suggest there would be far fewer people seeking to ridicule them.

You'd like people to keep their 'fanciful beliefs' to themselves on the Philosophy/religion/spirituality section? Ok confused

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 16:50:11

I do think some people have a very ....sensitive.... definition of "bile". Anything except agreement seems to be classed as disrespect.

headinhands Sun 08-Jun-14 16:52:19

I will ridicule a belief that is ridiculous. Ridicule is an important tool. It allows us to see untenable and absurd beliefs. Top tip. You can't ridicule something that isn't ridiculous.

HermioneWeasley Sun 08-Jun-14 16:56:46

I do not get involved in prayer threads, support threads and the like. I accept that they are a space for "believers" to talk. As I have never been on them I don't know whether other atheists go and give their perspective.

But when there are threads along the lines of "do you believe in..." Or "what do you think about" or "Ooo, something strange happened" then I feel entitled to join in debate.

And any time I see anything anti vax anywhere, because that shit is very dangerous.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 17:01:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

headinhands Sun 08-Jun-14 17:07:55

I've not seen non believers post derogatory and personal attacks on the obvious support threads? There's loads of threads that are clearly not inviting debate.

Scousadelic Sun 08-Jun-14 17:11:33

Hak, head and Hermione I don't know how many times I have to say it. I enjoy a good discussion, I am happy to be disagreed with when it is a reasoned argument even when put 'robustly' but ridicule and insult, no.
Joining in a debate, in my opinion, means allowing for the possibility that the person you are talking to may have some validity to their view, not that you are 100% right and they are an idiot. If you feel you have excluded that and you are indeed 100% right then the key to debate is to educate and persuade rather than to insult

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 17:12:40
beatingwings Sun 08-Jun-14 17:15:21

But everyone on that thread did as the OP asked.

? Surely you don't believe this Back? So is this very likely? Capsium in case you didn't recognise it that was an example of something said by religious people.

Sunshinemmum you admitted that you felt safe on the prayer and support threads before realising that damaged your case and going back on it.
I'm sure you wish there was a mumsnet rule stopping me from pointing that out smile

Will those who think beliefs can not be challenged be okay with me starting a thread about how I believe the holocaust was faked and promise not to post disagreeing with me?

I can make the title "Only for people who hate Jews" if that will help.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 17:21:13

Perhaps safe was too strong a term, comfortable would be more appropriate.

This..

'If religious and woo people could and would keep their fanciful beliefs to themselves, then i suggest there would be far fewer people seeking to ridicule them,'

actually speaks for itself, I don't think it is possible for people of faith to have a discussion together, aside from the prayer thread without the heckling.

Where does this thread ask for a non Christian viewpoint?

Well I didn't post on that one and I think the poster who did should have resisted the temptation, but you know they only posted a verse from the bible as requested.

Of course the content of the verse is vile and disgusting, but it is in your bible. Atheists didn't make it up. Maybe you should have said "a verse from the parts of the bible that don't involve abusing and murdering women and children".

beatingwings Sun 08-Jun-14 17:25:29

I thought it was quite hilarious- certainly lifted my spirits. Isn't that what the OP asked- in fact I have just read that passage to my OH and he is sitting chuckling.

To answer the OP - yes lots of atheists probably do feel that way. But I'm inclined to think that's perfectly reasonable.

It seems pretty logical to assume the non-existence of something if there is absolutely no factual evidence of it existing, until some kind of proof is offered to the contrary.
For example, if I announced to you that I believed there were fairies at the bottom of my garden, I would be entitled to my belief, but, given the utter lack of any evidence, it would be perfectly reasonable of you to state as a fact that there were no such thing.

I consider it to be a fact that there is no Father Christmas. Small children believing in him does not change that fact.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 17:38:00

I thought it was quite hilarious- certainly lifted my spirits. Isn't that what the OP asked- in fact I have just read that passage to my OH and he is sitting chuckling.

And yet we have posters stating up thread that Christian support threads (Christian threads where Christians are asking for support) are left alone? I don't think that happens.

HermioneWeasley Sun 08-Jun-14 17:38:32

I think the fundamental issue might be that believers think their faith is as valid as non believers lack of faith.

I will come out and say I don't believe they are equal. In my opinion science and evidence based thinking are superior. Yes, that's right, I put a value judgement on it. And I suspect many other atheists feel the same and so when there is debate that comes through.

beatingwings, I love that one too. In fact I may be indirectly responsible for it being in the other thread since I have quoted it on MN a number of times.

Another fun bit is the beginning of Matthew chapter 21 which is basically Jesus saying "look guys, I'll wait here. You nip into town and find me a donkey so when I arrive it will look like I'm the Messiah from that old prophecy".

I saw the donkey verses being discussed in a bible reading thread recently and decided not to point out the implications since it would have seemed intrusive. Amusingly they managed to read it through and not get the joke.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 17:47:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

beatingwings Sun 08-Jun-14 17:50:48

sunshine- in that thread a poster quoted from the bible.

I can't see that would be a problem if the bible was a book to be proud of.

headinhands Sun 08-Jun-14 17:58:19

You wouldn't have minded if an atheist had quoted psalm 23! But yes that was a leetle bit naughty of them but what harm was actually done. It was the bible after all. What suffering would that have caused? In that example a believer could challenge or ignore. I would prefer the challenge myself. That would be interesting to see a Christian defend that passage. I don't think the op sounded particularly vulnerable btw so the bible passage was unlikely to cause distress.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 17:58:28

Capsium in case you didn't recognise it that was an example of something said by religious people.

Duh. I am very duh in terms of recognising what religious people are supposed to believe by atheists (usually), or by superstitious hypocrites in the church...but then Jesus had the same problem. You have to shrug it off, as a believer, my mother was taught all sorts by 'Catholic' nuns that, to my mind amounted to superstition, which lead neatly into witchcraft, for a time, until she got her fingers burnt.

To me the defining line is communicated by the Bible through the Holy Spirit and backed up by life experience. No guarantees, hence faith. You decide what you want to believe. I don't know, but I actually really like, no, I actually really love Jesus and what He stood for and achieved. To me that is most brilliant, subversive and excellent.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 18:00:30

So can I just ask a couple more questions? Should there be a section where people of certain beliefs can have a discussion about faith, with out that level of interference. Sadly, I still can't even see how this constitutes or fits in with the argument around debate, let alone a conversation.

Do you think that basically if you post something here you fair are game? Would there be an acceptable way of flagging up support threads, or would you consider that 'Allowing people to pedal their wares' an expression that has been used on the other thread? I do appreciate that there are many forums that available exclusively for people of faith.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 18:08:56

I will come out and say I don't believe they are equal. In my opinion science and evidence based thinking are superior. Yes, that's right, I put a value judgement on it. And I suspect many other atheists feel the same and so when there is debate that comes through.

A part of me, I have got to say, really loves this. I am a rebel at heart, and a Christian. I sometimes feel really bad when everybody agrees because the very fleshy part of me thrives on conflict. Is that very Christian? I am & Christian in belief, we expect a certain amount of resistance, albeit not open offensive attacks on MN, OF ALL PLACES.

What i do not like is when you establish a certain affinity with your supposed 'enemies' , known off old, through numerous name changes and they say things like 'I could never be friends with a Christian' and I think we have so much in common apart from the BIG 'I believe' but still I thought you might like me for all our differences and I would actually really help you if push came to shove...and I am a Christian.

Never mind, I still would help you...if push came to shove.

madhairday Sun 08-Jun-14 18:09:47

smile capsium

I've seen support threads ddescend into bunfights before, yes, and I think Greens distinctions could be an idea. The 'main' threads eg prayer and tearoom threads are left alone, but on occasion you get someone posting perhaps about their relationship with their dh or about problems at church and someone will come on and start belittling their belief. I'm quite happy for this to happen on threads which invite it like the angels thread or threads asking 'why do you believe' etc etc, and enjoy a robust debate as much as the next person. But I've seen OPs leaving threads before sometimes fairly upset by the derailing.

Nothing wrong with debate and challenge. But there is a place for it. However, it's simply not always cut and dried is it. Still, we can endeavour to respect one another, whatever the nature of the thread.

As for the question from the OP in this thread, I've come across both atheists and Christians who sate their case as fact in rather a dogmatic fashion. I'd like both to give room for debate, but that's life. I quite enjoy it all really...

madhairday Sun 08-Jun-14 18:12:03

You capsium! Fellow rebel...

madhairday Sun 08-Jun-14 18:12:28

Should say UK capsium. Stupid phone

madhairday Sun 08-Jun-14 18:13:06

Oh bloody stupid phone. YY. Not you and not UK.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 18:13:19

Don't know Sunshine. To be very honest I am not very 'churchy', although my faith is strong. I don't know what to say in terms of support, among professed believers, often. I am not very diplomatic, in terms of differences in faith. I have always liked a challenge...

My life fits, by the way, and I have had my fair share of challenges.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 18:19:22

Mad Hi! Yes you are right, respect, I think. Sometimes I just like the engagement tbh. You know when sometimes people are 'pussy footing' around you in real life and the absolute challenge is ^refreshing.

However it is never nice when you get real bile. I like these people I talk to and want to engage and have a conversation...

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 18:23:01

Don't know Sunshine. To be very honest I am not very 'churchy', although my faith is strong.

grin That is the ironic thing, I don't think I am either. It would just be nice to be able to express POV on faith with fellow believers, or those with similar outlooks, in a supportive context.

BTW I was looking for sources of Christian literature rather than bible quotes, which I consider to be a sacred text. Ducks! grin

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 18:31:07

Sunshine Exactly. I can, sometimes, be made to feel like a very small child, by the staunchest of atheists, just for being, well a Christian.

I am not even uneducated, or unscientific or any thing else....It is just, at the same time, I have believe and faith and I cling onto this, for dear life sometimes....

What can I say? My life would not be the way it has turned out if what was scientifically seen as true was true in all circumstances...I am not going to reject this belief, to do so would be rejecting my past.

But to an atheist, that belief IS unscientific, whether or not the believer may be well up on all sorts of other scientific facts.

When a religious person expresses astonishment that atheists are often so dismissive of religious beliefs, I often feel like asking them whether they would not be just as dismissive if they met an (adult) person who believed in the tooth fairy.

I realise it must be annoying and probably offensive to have your profoundly-held religious beliefs compared with a belief in a children's make-believe character, but to an atheist there is not really a distinction - they are both just things that human beings have made up to make them feel better about the scary things in life.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 18:50:51

I think the fundamental issue might be that believers think their faith is as valid as non believers lack of faith.

I will come out and say I don't believe they are equal. In my opinion science and evidence based thinking are superior.

And I have got to (just) say that I think my (Christian) faith is superior, as it is God given. Although I would never argue this, because it is not what arguing is about. The faith comes first and the evidence follows...

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 18:56:11

holmes

I think the fundamental issue might be that believers think their faith is as valid as non believers lack of faith.

I will come out and say I don't believe they are equal. In my opinion science and evidence based thinking are superior.

I am really not bothered but I would never like to be dismissed, my experiences to be seen as non representative or my beliefs to be ridiculed. No one likes to be ridiculed..

But I do actually like to be questioned, respectfully, I like to engage with people. Even if we have to agree to disagree...for a time at least....

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 18:59:38

Sunshine Exactly. I can, sometimes, be made to feel like a very small child, by the staunchest of atheists, just for being, well a Christian.

I know exactly what you mean, it always comes down to the same people goading and then suggesting that any objection to this behaviour is due to tantrums, an inferior intelligence and childlike behaviour.

It is strange for me in many senses as I was rigid in my disbelief of God as a child. My unbelieving parents sent me to Sunday school for a rest and I got sent outside onto the pavement for refusing to close my eyes and pray. Now I struggle to see life without the context of God in it.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 19:03:28

"Why is it that if someone believes in something, they will talk about it as exactly that - something they believe in - and not portray it as absolute fact; yet if someone doesn't believe in something, they will say this as an absolute fact and ridicule those who believe?"

This is really funny grin

I don't know if the earth was created by a superior being about 4000 years ago and peppered with human beings who will be judged and possibly tortured forever upon their deaths. I just don't buy the hypothesis - i.e. I don't believe in the fairy tale because it is totally unbelievable and has not a shred of evidence to back it up.

However, believers all know that there is a God, who will judge them upon death etc. They have no doubt whatsoever.

Yes I know what you mean, capsium. But somehow that expectation for beliefs to be respected and for them to be held as being equal to non-belief seems shaky when one tries to extend that to ANY potential belief. And yet if you can't do this for absolutely ANY belief (however unusual/minority/outlandish) then where does one draw the line?

I would like to think that I would never outwardly ridicule anyone for their beliefs, but I have certainly come close to expressing total astonishment at some (e.g. a religious former colleague who recently told me she had not allowed her children to read Harry Potter because it contained some real spells which could be dangerous...)

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 19:08:46

"I have got to (just) say that I think my (Christian) faith is superior, as it is God given"

Riddle me this: What is the difference between fiction or a delusion and a circular belief with zero evidence that your belief in God is given to you by God?

madhairday Sun 08-Jun-14 19:17:36

I have plenty of doubts, Cote - in fact I'd be deeply suspicious of a Christian who said that they 'knew without doubt' because that smacks of brainwashed lack of thought. Doubt is good and the other side of the coin to faith.

I'd come close to expressing astonishment at that as well, holmes - and I do despair at some of the attitudes and antics of some of my fellow Christians - but perhaps we can say it is fine to express astonishment in a respectful manner, but downright ridicule is not on? If someone did say to me that they sincerely believed in the tooth fairy, I wouldn't ridicule them, I'd assume they had some kind of mental health difficulty as I assume many of you think I do grin and be kind, and depending on the situation gently challenge or steer the conversation elsewhere. All utterly hypothetical, of course, since no one has ever said anything such. I do know people who swear by homeopathy and ayurvedic medicine, and actually have little respect for their beliefs but still respect their person, their humanity. That's what it comes down to, surely?

I have debates with many of you on here time after time, and generally enjoy them, and generally find that I am shown courtesy as I hope I show others courtesy. But bile is hard to take, as capsium says - there's a difference between gentle ribbing (cheeky quotings of certain passages from 2 Kings) and outright attack on a person - and a difference between challenge and ridicule.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 19:21:18

Riddle me this: What is the difference between fiction or a delusion and a circular belief with zero evidence that your belief in God is given to you by God?

Oh yes, that is the terrifying thing, that cross over, in certain people's minds. I have to be very aware of my own beliefs, which are beliefs, counter cultural to a degree. Otherwise some nice person would question my integrity at an absolute level.

So I try to keep up with what is current, knowledge, scientific research wise. Not my intention to offend people. Offending is not a great opener to establishing dialogue. Even though Scientific knowledge is by no means complete / absolute.

Meaningfully Science is not my top priority though, I don't live my life by it. I am thankful for this because it is terribly restrictive.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 19:21:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 19:23:52

"I'd be deeply suspicious of a Christian who said that they 'knew without doubt' because that smacks of brainwashed lack of thought."

So, do you think God exists or do you doubt the existence of God?

The latter would make you an agnostic, not a believer.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 19:25:09

capsium - You quoted my question as if you would answer it, but you didn't.

Here it is again:

What is the difference between fiction or a delusion and a circular belief with zero evidence that your belief in God is given to you by God?

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 19:26:39

"To Christians, to have faith in something there is no evidence for is a virtue. To me, it isn't. So we are probably never going to understand each other."

I understand them, but they don't like my understanding smile

I could have written the rest of your post word for word.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 19:29:46

Corus 'Faith first evidence after' is what I find most liberating.

As an analogy, developmentally, a baby has to have the faith they will be able to walk before they get up and do it. Otherwise they would never attempt it... So a person believes in the possibility before they act appropriately in terms of the belief.

I actually think, quite controversially, that this is the way everyone is. Atheists and Christians alike. You cannot act without belief...

But this again is a matter of belief. It would take a lot to shake this.

HermioneWeasley Sun 08-Jun-14 19:29:57

Science is not terribly restrictive - I am awed by the wonders of the universe, the unfolding of evolution, the nano world which operates in a totally different way to the atomic, the beauty of nature.

To misquote Richard Dawkins, "isn't it enough to know the garden is beautiful without believing there are fairies in it"

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 19:31:37

Cote

I believe the human truth in the fiction we create. It says something very deep about who and what we are essentially, as human beings, and the God who created us.

madhairday Sun 08-Jun-14 19:31:56

I think God exists, yes.

Sometimes I doubt.

Does that make me agnostic? I think agnostic describes more accurately a consistent position of unsurety. My main position is belief in God, and that belief is wholehearted and passionate, but that position also causes me to have doubts - because I prefer to be a thinking Christian and analyse my own faith and experiences - and therefore I come across certain aspects which cause me to doubt.

I don't worry too much about that. The Psalmists doubted a lot. Thomas doubted. I think if I didn't doubt I would be holding on to a very vanilla version of Christianity, one not allowed to waver, not allowed to be challenged and not allowed to be thoughts about very deeply.

My episodes of doubt are far outweighed by my experience of assurance of God's presence in my life.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 19:32:25

Hermione It is the mystery that fascinates me...

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 19:49:56

capsium - Again, you didn't answer.

Here is my question, for the 3rd time:

What is the difference between fiction or a delusion and a circular belief with zero evidence that your belief in God is given to you by God?

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 19:50:45

"I think God exists, yes. Sometimes I doubt."

Can't you make up your mind?

It's not new evidence keeps cropping up every couple of days, one way or another.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 19:52:31

"I believe the human truth in the fiction we create"

Does this mean you are aware that the God hypothesis is fiction (created by people) and that there is likely no such thing as the Abrahamic God?

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 19:54:57

"I actually think, quite controversially, that this is the way everyone is. Atheists and Christians alike. You cannot act without belief..."

You belief, once again, is fiction.

I have no belief that has no evidence behind it. I know many others like me.

It may be wishful thinking on your part that you think everyone else is like you, believing in all sorts of stuff with no proof.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 20:02:30

Cote there is no absolute answer to your question. What is viewed as 'delusional' is cultural, it is not an absolute, in terms of a qualitative or quantitive descriptor of any particular perception somebody holds.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 20:06:06

Of course you should be able to answer a question that starts with "What is the difference between...". If there is an answer, that is.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 20:06:24

If there is a difference, rather.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 20:07:25

Cote

Does this mean you are aware that the God hypothesis is fiction (created by people) and that there is likely no such thing as the Abrahamic God?

In my belief system people were created by God and fiction by people. Within this belief system human creation (fiction /art) reflects, in part, God's creation, in us. The part that is other, not reflective of God and life, is our own fallibility.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 20:10:44

Of course you should be able to answer a question that starts with "What is the difference between...". If there is an answer, that is.

There is an answer, but discerning it, well that is the thing...Can you? Absolutely without any doubt?

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 20:10:51

Does that mean you are sure that God exists but think the whole religion thing may be fiction?

That would again be avoiding my question.

What is the difference, if any, between fiction or a delusion and a circular belief with zero evidence that your belief in God is given to you by God?

(Last chance - I'm giving up after this one so as not to bore the thread to tears)

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 20:12:25

"There is an answer, but discerning it, well that is the thing...Can you? Absolutely without any doubt?"

I just ask what you thought was the difference between those two concepts.

If you can't see a difference, that may be because there isn't any.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 20:18:33

The answer to your first question depends entirely on your definition of 'religion' and 'God', Cote and I can't answer you because I strongly suspect we do not concur in our definitions.

To your second, truth can exist beyond our realisation of it, regardless of evidence collected. If you do not look, you do not see.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 20:22:32

If you can't see a difference, that may be because there isn't any.

Ooh, wow I am very flattered you would hold onto what I can personally see and communicate , as a measure of what s true.

Unfortunately, I have to break it to you, I am not infallible...

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 20:24:24

So basically, you can't answer a simple question. I give up.

This is why these threads get so frustrating.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 20:25:22

Bore? Well there again, sadly I get this. No one really wants to engage...it all gets far too eristic.

madhairday Sun 08-Jun-14 20:33:34

*"I think God exists, yes. Sometimes I doubt."

Can't you make up your mind?*

I've made up my mind, in that I know what I believe.

it would be disingenous of me to say that therefore I have it all sorted and never have the tiniest bit of doubt. Doubting doesn't mean I stop believing, nor does it mean that I dip in and out of thinking God is there - simply means that I am engaging with my own faith journey and letting myself question matters as they arise. And sometimes it's because something happens in my life or the life of others that causes me to question. But questioning doesn't equal losing that faith - to me it strengthens it.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 20:41:09

"Doubting doesn't mean I stop believing"

Surely it means that while you are doubting, you are not believing.

You can't have both of the two options below. It is an either/or choice:

(1) God exists (I believe)
or
(2) I'm not sure if God exists (I doubt).

Madhairday - exactly. It's ok for you to think that a person who believes in the tooth fairy has some kind of mh problem, but not ok for an atheist to think that about a Christian. And why is that? Well it's simply a matter of the popularity of one delusion over the other. Plus the power and establishment support that grew around the group of people with whom it is popular. It's not because it has any greater basis in fact than the tooth fairy.

I mean - ok, I obviously don't actually think that all religious belief is the product of a mh problem, because clearly I know plenty of religious people who are otherwise totally rational. But I do believe that religion was simply a product of a combination of fear, a desire to understand perplexing natural phenomena, the comfort to be found in tradition and ritual, and an enjoyment of telling stories. Not to mention a desire to create a community and reject or attack all those who do not conform to its rules.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 20:56:15

But I do believe that religion was simply a product of a combination of fear,

However Christian belief is not about fear, at all. In fact the Bible tells us that God has not given us the spirit of fear...

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 20:58:20

Jesus did not conform to the rules...in the way people expected a Messiah to anyway.

Snowfedup Sun 08-Jun-14 21:24:46

I try very hard to hide in real life the complete contempt I have for those who believe, I know lots and they are lovely people but yes I do feel superior, I can't help it, I just don't understand how they can have these beliefs?

god either exists and is powerful and can effect change in this world - if this is true he is sick and evil given the many cruel and awful things he allows to happen or does not prevent especially in his own name (priests and nuns in Ireland for example)

Or he is not powerful and cannot effect change and therefore is not a god !

I honestly can see a distant future when humans will look at our major world religions in the same way we look back at the Egyptians / Greeks / Vikings etc..

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 21:29:42

Snow contempt is never good to hold onto...why?

As for Egyptians, Greeks and Vikings, I love them. Any bit of history, archeology and the humanity shines through, to me, the years melt away and it makes me feel quite teary.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 21:31:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I didn't mean that any religion says it is based on fear - of course they don't! I meant that the human need to create religious beliefs comes partly from fear. The ancient yearning for a powerful protector, the fear of a lack of further meaning for life, the fear of death etc.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 21:36:52

Holmes, your assertion, concerning the origins of religion, contains as much belief as the religion(s) you criticise.

Snowfedup Sun 08-Jun-14 21:44:09

I wish I didn't feel this way it happens automatically, I meet someone we chat, get on, I think they are very nice then at some point it becomes clear or they tell me they are religious and bam they drop down hugely in my estimations! I hope they don't realise and I will continue to be pleasant and friendly !

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 21:46:58

Snow - I excuse religious friends because they have all been heavily indoctrinated from early childhood.

On the other hand, astrology, Reiki, and the like have no excuse and I do regard their fans differently.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 21:49:08

Cote I wasn't....where does that leave me? Friend or foe?

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 21:49:19

" a baby has to have the faith they will be able to walk before they get up and do it."

No they don't. They just are driven by instinct to progress. They don 't consciously think about planning to walk- it's just the next thing they do.

Snowfedup Sun 08-Jun-14 21:51:45

The funny thing is I am more understanding of older generations as it was what they where born into, it's a community thing for many. It's my own and younger generation I don't understand, seeing the horrors that go on worldwide and multiplying that exponentially given that only a small percentage are actually reported, how can they still believe. With today's technology in video etc... and yet no one can provide honest proof of a genuine miracle ! It baffles me !

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 21:55:03

Hak instinct? What are the origins of instinct and can we override it? Are we slaves to our biology?

Not a belief I want. Without free will what am I?

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 21:55:07

You weren't... What, capsium?

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 21:56:23

What baby thinks is probably something like "Oooh, shiny! I want! See if I can reach it if I push on my foot, just like this...".

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 22:01:17

Not Indoctrinated. I was Christened C of E. Mother lapsed Catholic, then witch for a time, then Catholic in belief again. Father, now self professed atheist, but one who recommended I read the King James when I was a child. Not taken to church very regularly but visited many churches as a tourist and for weddings, Christenings and funerals and Carol concerts....

Much was debated in our family and still is.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 22:02:32

There isn't much difference for me between C of E, Catholic, whatever.

You were born into it, you went to Church, and you are now Christian. Is it a coincidence?

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 22:03:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 22:05:34

I did not attend much Church Cote, I also went to numerous car showrooms but I am not a car enthusiast beyond getting from A to B.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 22:08:19

I do choose what to believe Corus. For me belief is a decision. I decide to believe and follow up that belief with actions appropriate to it.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 22:08:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 22:10:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 22:10:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 22:11:58

"For me belief is a decision. I decide to believe"

How odd.

I decide to believe that there is a green monster under my bed.
I decide to believe that rain is angels pissing on our heads for a laugh.

Surely grown adults would only believe something after they see sufficient evidence of its validity. I'm not even sure my 8 yr old DD would just decide to believe something she isn't convinced is true.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 22:16:38

I don't decide to believe those things, green monsters and the pissing, though, Cote.

Funnily enough my Ds, as an infant, did used to occasionally argue with the sky for not doing as he wanted, but then he decided he liked the rain because it 'washed him clean...' grin

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 22:21:33

The point was that it is odd to just believe something.

It reminds me of one of the last scenes of Memento where the guy decides to make himself believe that Teddy is the killer, so that at least he would think he found the killer and finally be content.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 22:27:45

Odd? Maybe, I not asked enough people to have a firm opinion. Liberating to be able to decide to believe something or not though, IME.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 22:29:08

Liberating... how?

Deciding to bow to a quite-possibly-fictional deity is the very opposite of liberating.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 22:30:00

I might decide it is not odd, of course. I don't mind being odd but I like having things in common with people too...

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 22:32:30

Because otherwise Cote we are victims of our biology, slaves to our synapses. No free will.

Believing in God and Free Will does set us free. We can choose.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 22:33:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 22:35:10

Corus that is a matter of faith and much patience.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 22:44:56

"Victims of biology"? Is that what you call being rational and not believing all sorts of stories for which there is no proof?

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 22:53:44

Cote it does not pay to rely on biological perceptions too much, they can be misleading.

For example the conjuror you booked for your child's party is not really performing magic, even though it might look like he is.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 22:58:21

"Biological perceptions" - Is there another kind?

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 22:59:18

What do you think Cote?

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 22:59:46

I asked first grin

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 23:01:10

Clue: I believe in the spiritual realm as well as the physical.

Ok capsium - ancient civilisations and peoples who believed in various gods, spirits, beings etc. Presumably you would not claim that all if those deities are/were real? If they were not real, but made up, then what do you think drove those people to invent them, if not those needs and basic human fears and insecurities I mentioned before? Or do you believe that all other gods are just a way that other peoples interpret the true god (i.e. yours)?

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 23:07:00

But you could think of it this way, what if you never got beyond the stage of development where you believed something did not exist just because it was hidden from view?

Ummm - how does our 'biology' prevent us from having free will?

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 23:11:35

I believe they were real for them Holmes.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 23:13:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 23:13:47
CoteDAzur Sun 08-Jun-14 23:20:10

capsium - Can't you really answer a simple question?

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 23:23:44

You never ask me simple questions, Cote.

ErrolTheDragon Sun 08-Jun-14 23:29:18

Jumping into the thread - I'm not actually convinced we do have free will, but it feels as though we do, and so I choose to act as though I have - ie that I am responsible for my actions (and yes I know there's a contradiction in there grin)

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 23:31:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ErrolTheDragon Sun 08-Jun-14 23:33:13

capsicum - cote did ask a simple question - but coming up with a simple answer to it could be hard.

Real for them? What does that actually mean? That their gods did exist but winked out of existence when nobody believed in them any more? Or does it nean 'existed as ideas in the heads of primitive peopke, but didn't properly exist like my god'?

Something is either real or it's not. People can believe in it or not believe in it, but that does not change the facts.

In my opinion, the 'it was true for them' claim is just a convenient modern loophole to avoid the uncomfortable but logical necessity of condemning people of all other religions as wrong and going to hell.

capsium Mon 09-Jun-14 08:23:47

True for them means I believe spiritual belief(s) can manifest physically. They can alter perceptions. Set patterns of thought and ways of thinking can alter brain physiology which can in turn alter people's perceptions and can be passed onto new generations. The altered brain physiology is the physical manifestation.

Hakluyt Mon 09-Jun-14 08:27:45

"Set patterns of thought and ways of thinking can alter brain physiology which can in turn alter people's perceptions and can be passed onto new generations"

I am pretty sure this isn't true...................

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Jun-14 09:15:25

capsium - Do you have any evidence to back up that "alters brain physiology" stuff?

Yes but passing on beliefs is not the same thing as an actual real deity being summoned into existence. A deity real enough to - for example - create human life or have power over the seasons or strike infidels dead or the many other things that gods are alleged to have done would have to be a damn sight more real than just a perception in people's heads, however many generations had believed in them.

And anyway, I'm pretty sure that the method by which religions are passed down through the generations has nothing to do with belief altering brain patterns (or whatever) and everything to do with teaching your kids to believe in the same nonsense.

Incidentally, I am quite sure that belief, like meditation, can indeed influence the behaviour and development of a person's brain. I think that is pretty widely accepted by psychologists. What it can't do is magically summon actual deities into existence and then preserve them in the brains of future generations.

larrygrylls Mon 09-Jun-14 09:30:18

'Something is either real or it's not.'

Really? So are electrons and photons 'really' particles or waves? What 'really' happened in the first nanoseconds after the big bang?

I think that there are a lot of people who know a little about philosophy and science who are very dismissive of other people's beliefs. I find that to be an incredibly arrogant attitude. Amongst scientists, just like everyone else, there are a variety of different beliefs about the big questions of faith. It is easy enough to google religious scientists to find a long list of brilliant minds (Einstein amongst them) who believed in some form of god. Did these people really just not understand these questions? Or did they just form differently (and equally reasonable) conclusions based on the evidence. I find the Judaeo-Christian God to be far too much like us to be credible. I expect that, were some consciousness out there, we would have as much chance of understanding it as an ant would of understanding human society. Personally, I am an agnostic on the big questions. I accept that I really don't have a clue.

As for what people describe as 'woo', though, frequently it can be disproved. For example, homeopathy does not work. I can state this as a fact through the results of experiments coupled with my knowledge of science.

In fact I'm beginning to think, capsium that the problem here is that we have a different definition of 'real' or 'exist'.

If something only exists in your mind/imagination, then it is not real. Your belief does not make it real. A child may believe in the monster under his bed. To say that means it is 'real to him' is disingenuous. We know it is not real, however much he believes in it. And he will of course eventually realise it is not real.

capsium Mon 09-Jun-14 10:01:44

Hak and Cote

Danial Everett's work with the Pirahã people shows just how much cultural beliefs can affect language. In their culture anything outside their immediate present experience is considered Taboo, they refer to anything outside immediate experience to have gone 'out of existence. This has affected their language to such an extent they have no recursion, significant because linguists have thought grammar to be the defining feature of language and humanity - animals have complex communication systems without grammar. Cultural beliefs have also affected the Pirahã's ability to appreciate numbers.

Brain physiologists have mapped differences in brain development for people with differing language capabilities.

This article also shows just how much culture affects perceptions,

www.psmag.com/magazines/magazine-feature-story-magazines/joe-henrich-weird-ultimatum-game-shaking-up-psychology-economics-53135/

If your read around the subject of brain plasticity and epigenetics this also throws up some interesting ideas about how culture and beliefs can affect us physically.

capsium Mon 09-Jun-14 10:08:27

Holmes

I think that is pretty widely accepted by psychologists. What it can't do is magically summon actual deities into existence and then preserve them in the brains of future generations.

This is where epigenetics is interesting...

Also when talking of spiritual entities, they don't exists in the physical sense, they are non corporal. How I believe spirits manifest physically is they act an agent which can alter the physical state of living matter.

capsium Mon 09-Jun-14 10:22:18

But surely Jesus was fully corporeal, but he was god. And people of other religions in the past believed in real bodily appearances of their gods on earth. So how could an actual physical manifestation of a god work in the 'it was real for them' theory? And a physically non-existent god created matter, or indeed human beings, out of nothing? I actually think I find the tooth fairy marginally more believable than this...

Just looked at your links. Yes - the brain does lots of amazing stuff. Things we do and experience create new pathways in our brains - yes, I expect so. I fail to see how this means that god exists.

All this boils down to the fact that god is nothing more than an idea in your head. That is not the same as god existing as an independent force/being. Existing only in your head = made up.

capsium Mon 09-Jun-14 10:29:07

That is what is special about Jesus when he lived as a man. He was the physical manifestation of God, the Word made flesh.

John 1:1
King James Version (KJV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14
King James Version (KJV)
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

capsium Mon 09-Jun-14 10:32:13

Not only in my head Holmes lots of other people's like me too...and in our words, what we communicate. Jesus talked of His words being spirit and life.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 09-Jun-14 11:40:29

>'Something is either real or it's not.'

>Really? So are electrons and photons 'really' particles or waves? What 'really' happened in the first nanoseconds after the big bang?

Electrons and photons are really electrons and photons grin- but they have behaviours which we can model as waves or particles. As to the first nanoseconds aftert the BB - no idea; maybe humankind will never know but that has no bearing whatever on the fact that something really did happen.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 09-Jun-14 11:44:05

capsicum - your belief that Jesus was the manifestation of God doesn't make it real. The fact that a book says so doesn't make it real. I used to be a Christian BTW - Jesus used to be 'real' for me too.

capsium Mon 09-Jun-14 12:05:40

Errol Your disbelief does not stop something or someone from being real either...

Ok I'm done. It becomes frustrating eventually, arguing round in circles.

CorusKate Mon 09-Jun-14 12:23:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

peacefuloptimist Mon 09-Jun-14 12:35:43

It always amuses me how athiests in their vehement animosity towards religion actually end up sounding like the religious followers they despise.

Examples (paraphrasing here):

1) We (athiests of all flavours) are the ones who are RIGHT/GOOD and they (religious people) are WRONG/EVIL

2) The whole world would better off/ perfect/ a utopia if EVERYONE followed what WE were doing (ie. not believing in God)

3) Those who dont agree with us must be ignorant/mad/evil.

4) The ONLY reason why anyone could possibly not agree with us is because they have been brainwashed from birth.

5) Wouldn't it be a good idea (and a simple solution) to just ban the teaching/propagation/practice of that idea that is different to ours.

Point 4 for me is particularly funny especially how some people can spout it without any awareness that they themselves contradict that view. There are atheists on this thread and many on this board who have spoken about being believers in the past or having relatives (sometimes their own parents or siblings) who are believers. Yet they have managed to overcome this powerful 'indoctrination' and adopt an opposing view. If indoctrination is such a powerful tool that you believe it makes religious people incapable of accepting your conclusions and abandoning their own beliefs, how is it that many have of you have been able to reject your former religious beliefs or the beliefs of your family? Because your special? Some will say that they never believed in it but this again shows that you have a choice to either accept or reject the views you are exposed to in your early life.

Also I have met people who have been born in to atheist families and yet as adults they come to believe in God. My dad was an atheist for many years before he finally changed his views and believed in God. No indoctrination involved there. It may be comforting for some people to explain away the fact that people do not agree with their perspective or views as being a result of that person being brainwashed and so they incapable of seeing the 'truth' that you espouse or of thinking rationally like you but it doesnt make it correct. Its just an easy excuse for you to justify failing to convince someone of your arguments.

peacefuloptimist Mon 09-Jun-14 14:01:59

I once heard a lecture by a muslim scholar and he said that for an atheist everything that they see around them is a confirmation that God doesnt exist and for a believer everything they see around them is evidence for God's existence. That really makes sense to me. To quote Richard Dawkins again I once saw him on a tv show in which big animals were being dissected say (paraphrased massively) "isnt it amazing how nature gives the illusion of design". grin For him its an illusion for me its evidence of a designer.

The truth of the matter is that neither atheists or believers can prove undoubtedly either the existence or absence of a God. Yes you can prove certain ideas about God are not true but if I said to you I will stop believing in God if you can definitively prove to me now that God doesnt exist would you be able to do it? Unquestionable evidence that everyone will recognise and accept either way does not exist and that is how its supposed to be otherwise there is no free will. At least Dawkins is humble (never thought I would use that in a sentence with his name) enough to admit that there is probably no God rather then there is definitely no God like some of the atheists here who have declared as a fact something they cant prove. There is no fact about it. You have your reasons and your 'proofs' that are convincing to you for what you ultimately believe and religious people have theirs.

Its not the same thing as the tooth fairy or santa either. As an adult you know how the money gets under your child's pillow because you yourself put it there. Similarly if I dont buy my children christmas presents they wont appear in my house magically because Santa has delivered them. That is definitive proof its not real. However the spiritual experiences that people have can not be explained away as easily. Miraculous things happen in life. You might present rational reasons for why you think they have happened but that is your explanation for yourself.

It is not true that people believe in God with no evidence or proof. I have multiple evidences for why I believe in God, which are personal to me. They might not convince you but they do me. When I look at the world around me and the more I learn about and understand how it works the more I think this could not have all come about by itself and there must be a reason for this. When I look at human history and at the many peoples from all parts of the world that have believed in something more then just this material world that we see in front of us that is evidence for me that there is a God that is communicating to human beings. The similarities in the beliefs and values of various world religions is also proof to me. When I read some religious texts I find arguments in them that convince me of God's existence. As much as I love science (in terms of studying it) it has its limitations. Science explains the mechanism behind things essentially how the universe works. But it doesnt explain how everything started. Science tells you that if you stab someone you can kill them but it doesnt tell you that stabbing that person is wrong.

I dont think religion makes you stop thinking, I think it forces you to think much bigger. About the most important, fundamental things in life rather then just day to day living. I remember once when having a discussion with an athiest I asked him about what he believed was his purpose in life and he replied nothing. That there was no purpose or point for his existence. This to me is infinitely sad. That the organs in our body, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the utensils we use etc all have a purpose but our lives to him meant nothing and were meaningless, without purpose. This idea just doesnt make sense to me.

Some of the greatest thinkers in the world who have contributed the most to advancement in our knowledge and progress have been believers in God. It obviously didnt stop them from thinking. Some would argue that it was due to their faith in a law giver that they sought to find and understand the laws of nature. Why do you need answers to the big questions? Well you need them because they give meaning to our existence and give us reassurance. Questions like Why are we here? What is my purpose? Where am I going? are all too fundamental to be ignored or brushed under the carpet.

I also disagree with the point that it is easier to believe in God and an afterlife then to accept the finality of death. No its not. Its easier to believe that you will not be accountable for your actions after you die and live self-indulgently. That is not to say that all atheists are self indulgent but that if the only consequences you believe you will face are those that you face when you are living that is infinitely less scary then believing that even if you get away with something here you will ultimately face justice for your actions. I worry that I will be accountable for money I borrowed from someone 10 years ago that I havent managed to pay back because I have lost contact with them. I worry that the nasty way I spoke to someone or something I have said about them behind their back in the past will come back and haunt me unless I seek forgiveness from them in this life. That doesnt make me better then others but it certainly doesnt mean that it necessarily makes death less scary.

CorusKate Mon 09-Jun-14 14:11:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

larrygrylls Mon 09-Jun-14 14:24:19

'Electrons and photons are really electrons and photons grin- but they have behaviours which we can model as waves or particles. As to the first nanoseconds aftert the BB - no idea; maybe humankind will never know but that has no bearing whatever on the fact that something really did happen'.

Yes, agreed, they are. However, we need two models to explain them as they behave very differently depending on the circumstances. It is very hard to explain fringes using photons (especially those created by just one photon) and very hard (maybe impossible) to explain the photoelectric effect using waves.

The thing us some things are unknowable by human kind, as you say above. You are happy to agree that that what happened directly after the big bang is unknowable yet claim to know that there is an objective reality. What is 'real' time. We have a strong feeling that it is linear, but a lot of scientists would claim it may well not be.

I think it is hard to claim that there is no god, and impossible to do so with certainty. This then speaks to the argument about why we should believe in something with no evidence (tooth fairy etc). However, an atheist's idea of evidence and a believer's are not the same. I am not sure science really has an opinion on god, one way or the other, regardless of Dawkins (a biologist, after all, albeit a good one, hardly a science which deals with big questions).

madhairday Mon 09-Jun-14 16:41:16

Thanks for your posts peaceful

I'd not got on this today until now and it has moved on somewhat.

Corus you say 'To believe I was created with a purpose would, to me, devalue my life, my potential, and my ability to choose.' I'm interested in why you think that being created for a purpose would devalue you in some way and devalue your potential as a human being? To me, it is the very opposite; I believe that being created for a purpose brings value to who I am - that my intrinsic value is in fact in who I am created to be. This doesn't mean I feel constrained in any way or bound by my 'purpose' - it means that my purpose is more than I can ever imagine, infinite and beautiful in who God has created me to be. My potential seems so much more in the purpose God has for me - I don't see that God restricts potential in any way, but that knowing God releases potential more and more. And again, my ability to choose is in no way affected - I make choices, good and bad, every day. I try to make choices according to my faith, of course, but surely that doesn't restrict choices, unless it's choices which are damaging to me or others, in which case I think the restriction I feel is a good thing?

I know most people have this in terms of conscience (which I believe is God given, of course grin ) - but I can't understand why believing I am created for purpose makes my ability to choose any lesser.

I find utter freedom in knowing I am created for a purpose. Freer in the potential to be who I am made to be, utterly valued for who I am made to be.

I kind of get it when people say that they don't need a god to live a good life, and therefore putting a god in the picture somehow means that their own efforts are devalued. But it simply doesn't work in that way. It only makes things more clear and our own efforts even more creative in the knowledge of purpose and hope. Hope is not devaluing me, but rather completing me, to coin a dodgy phrase from Jerry Maguire...

CorusKate Mon 09-Jun-14 16:51:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CorusKate Mon 09-Jun-14 16:56:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CorusKate Mon 09-Jun-14 16:57:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Jun-14 17:08:21

larrygrylls - 'Something is either real or it's not.' Really? So are electrons and photons 'really' particles or waves?

Electrons acts like both particles and waves. They are real. The laws they obey are also real and predictable. Their behaviour can be observed, predicted, and calculated. There is nothing unreal about subatomic particles.

Actually this sort of "Oh yeah, so what about Quantum Physics?" really pushes my buttons - sorry, larry. QP doesn't talk about a supernatural fantastical world. It is not proof for God, angels, homeopathy, or any other woo. It can't be trotted out as defence for fuzzy thinking and irrationality.

"It is easy enough to google religious scientists to find a long list of brilliant minds (Einstein amongst them) who believed in some form of god."

Einstein could at best be described as an agnostic. He is on record as having said that he does not believe in a "personal God" and even "a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings".

"Religious scientists" is not a great argument for believers, as very few (natural) scientists believe in the Abrahamic God, in numbers who have always been lower than general public and declining to single-digit percentages over the years.

A 1998 survey published in Nature found that belief in a personal God among top scientists has declined from 28% in 1914 to 7% in 1998, with belief in God as low as 5% among biologists and 7.5% among physicists & astronomers.

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Jun-14 17:20:44

"a muslim scholar said that for an atheist everything that they see around them is a confirmation that God doesnt exist and for a believer everything they see around them is evidence for God's existence"

Not really. That assumption that atheists & agnostics have a similar weakness in their convictions to the religious believers' is wishful thinking.

I see no confirmation around me that God doesn't exist. All I see is no proof of a God. That is why I don't believe.

If one day a proof is found, I'll believe. Until then, it is a mystery to me how otherwise rational adults are convinced that there is a deity expecting them to behave in a certain way.

madhairday Mon 09-Jun-14 18:02:01

That's a really interesting point, Corus - I have a particular dislike of certain 'Christianese' speak which goes 'God uses you', precisely because I do not believe (or find confirmation of anywhere in the bible) that we are meant to be tools or utensils to be 'used' (dh wrote a thesis on this and I'm writing a book about it among other things). There is no where in scripture which says that 'God uses people' and nowhere to justify people thinking that their purpose is to be some kind of tool in God's higher purpose.

I get what you are saying - because I rally at that too. It simply doesn't enter my sphere of thought when thinking about purpose. Purpose isn't so much about what I have to do - ie I have to fulfil certain criteria to achieve my God-given purpose - but much more about who I am. Purpose is about worshipping God, because worshipping God fulfils me in a way nothing else has ever come close. God created us to worship God and be in relationship with God - but within that comes a wholeness for us - it's not only to soothe some cosmic ego or to pay some duty to some far off deity. It does so much more than this. So purpose, for me, cannot be tied up in the language of utility, but is intrinsically about freedom and wholeness.

I can't 'do' much physically a lot of the time, having chronic disease, so it even more speaks to me that I have a purpose, and it is in being, not doing - being in partnership rather than in 'use'.

CorusKate Mon 09-Jun-14 18:30:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

madhairday Mon 09-Jun-14 18:47:21

Certainly agree re semantics, but I suspect that our 'basic tenets of what makes a good life' would be much more similar than you might think smile

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 09-Jun-14 18:54:32

Perhaps we should just write This is not a debate thread in the post title.

CorusKate Mon 09-Jun-14 19:09:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 09-Jun-14 19:14:46

It occurs to me that on 'believers vs unbelievers' threads, when Einstein's name is mentioned as a 'religious scientist' (as usually happens!) it would behoove us all to read a bit on what his religious views actually were. Wiki has a fairly comprehensive piece. He is an ally neither of the believers in a personal god nor of 'professional atheists'.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 09-Jun-14 20:13:38

Clever bloke that Einstein.grin

As I've pointed out elsewhere, the trouble with writing "This is not a debate thread" in the post title is that I could then start a thread called "The holocaust never happened - this is not a debate thread"

I don't think anyone would hesitate to post in that one saying that was nonsense and nor should they.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 09-Jun-14 21:35:42

Yes. TBH threads I've been on which were clearly askign for support seem to pretty much be respected- the OP seemed to be whingeing about debates on threads beginning 'Do you believe...' confused (and WTF was with the 'the clue is in the title of the boardhmm.... er, its Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality, surely subjects that any thinking person is liable to be interested in and which most definitely includes non-theists!)

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 09-Jun-14 21:54:05

"Do you believe...." is a question, inviting answers. As this is PRS I would expect those answers to be of a religious, spiritual or philosophical nature. To me it invites discussion (open ended and exploratory) not necessarily debate. And especially not the type of debate (ridicule and circular arguments) that tends to happen here which is more about displacement, projection and preaching and serves no other purpose than to close down the discussion.

Scousadelic Mon 09-Jun-14 21:59:48

It's not the debate that's the problem on some threads though, it's the lack of respect and rudeness. Maybe we need to put "Not a debate" for threads where people just want to share experiences and "Mind your manners" for ones where people are happy to hear both sides of an argument but don't want aggression or derision

CorusKate Mon 09-Jun-14 22:14:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mswibble Mon 09-Jun-14 22:16:20

As a life long athiest, I too refused to bow my head and pray in infant school, the purpose of life is simple - you live, you die. Have a nice time inbetween. I am not here to breed, I am not here to serve anyone. For me it really is that simple. If someone else thinks differently good luck to them.

Hakluyt Mon 09-Jun-14 23:20:15

I don't know whether the "lack of respect and rudeness"brigade had noticed, but this thread was happily being an interesting discussion til they decided to bring it back to the failings of atheists/anti-wooists.

larrygrylls Tue 10-Jun-14 07:03:55

Corus,

I did not say what happened after the Big Bang was not real or worth studying, I questioned the easy concept of reality vs 'unreality'. It is interesting that someone on this thread came back with the rejoinder that 'photons and electrons' were merely what they were (and perfectly real) but waves and particles were models we used to understand them. This goes for a lot of things we believe we understand: we can give them a name and have a model in our head that we are comfortable with and makes the concept 'real' to us.

The reality is we increase our knowledge of the early universe but can never know it perfectly. The Big Bang is what is mathematically described as a singularity; the equations and models no longer work.

I proposed Einstein as a religious scientist. I never claimed he was a Christian or a Jew. He believed in a guiding consciousness of some sort. I would not personally even go that far. I could honestly say I have no idea and don't believe that I have the intellectual tools to find out one way or the other. What surprises me is that so many people with far less knowledge than me (physics degree from cambridge) seem to think this is a trivial question and can just dismiss a guiding consciousness of some sort with a click of their fingers.

headinhands Tue 10-Jun-14 07:15:33

What surprises me is that so many people with far less knowledge than me (physics degree from cambridge) seem to think this is a trivial question and can just dismiss a guiding consciousness of some sort with a click of their fingers

There are many people with more knowledge than yourself that still reject the notion of a guiding conscious of some sort and many people without so much as a GCSE that believe that and more so I'm not sure what point your making by citing your qualifications.

What's your evidence of a guiding conscious?

headinhands Tue 10-Jun-14 07:16:05

*you're

headinhands Tue 10-Jun-14 07:17:40

And what evidence do you have that they have dismissed the idea with the click of their fingers?

larrygrylls Tue 10-Jun-14 07:27:06

Head,

I am not arguing for a knowing consciousness, nor against it. I am arguing that humans cannot answer the question. I only mention my qualification in response to people airily dismissing what I am saying on the basis of one of their relatives being a subatomic physicist.

headinhands Tue 10-Jun-14 07:27:21

As for tools, yeah, I'm kind of with you in that. I don't know that xyz doesn't exist but I am unconvinced by the claims and evidence presented to me (but deeply interested in the people who can accept such claims without evidence.) Because I am unconvinced by current arguments/proofs I reject groundless claims until I have something more to examine. That seems most logical to me.

headinhands Tue 10-Jun-14 07:29:21

That was one person, and I still don't see that you know they dismissed it without thought.

deepbluetr Tue 10-Jun-14 07:32:49

larrygrylls I am interested in your views- do you have any religious or spiritual beliefs?

larrygrylls Tue 10-Jun-14 07:49:26

Deep,

I am genuinely agnostic, I have no idea. Most scientists I meet are quite humble with respect to this kind of question and feel it belongs in the realm of philosophy, not science.

I was brought up to respect others' beliefs, though, and still feel that this is the correct approach.

larrygrylls Tue 10-Jun-14 07:50:41

Head, yes it was one person and, if you care to read my post, it was addressed to that person.

deepbluetr Tue 10-Jun-14 08:04:33

larry interesting. I can't say most scientits I have met are humbles with respect. Some for sure, but very few wish to attribute a watchmaker to scientific processes.

I do respect others, but not always their views.
I think religion gets far too much respect.
As an atheist I am told that my children are born into sin and that I will be sent to hell for not embracing Jesus.
I don't see a lot of respect for my atheist views.

larrygrylls Tue 10-Jun-14 08:09:33

No,

I don't often think about the 'watchmaker' as it is not a part of science and gets in the way, in the same way as I would not expect a religious philosopher to try to describe god in terms of mathematical equations.

What I do struggle with is people whose knowledge and understanding of science could be written on a postage stamp trying to use scientific concepts to 'disprove' god.

deepbluetr Tue 10-Jun-14 08:14:19

I can't say that troubles me. The onus is not on those to disporove anyway, it is on those making the claims. So unless thay can can come up with concrete evidence I am happy to live with the knowledge that god is a mythical beast.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 08:30:54

larry - re "we can give them a name and have a model in our head that we are comfortable with and makes the concept 'real' to us."

But they are real, and the models we have for their properties & behaviour do work. These models are not "in our head". They are working models. If you are indeed a Physics graduate, you must know this.

"The reality is we increase our knowledge of the early universe but can never know it perfectly."

"Never"? A bit defeatist for someone who has trained in a natural science that didn't even exist a few centuries ago.

"The Big Bang is what is mathematically described as a singularity; the equations and models no longer work."

It is a singularity so we don't expect to find out what was going on before Big Bang. However, we can and do find out what happened just after it.

"I proposed Einstein as a religious scientist. He believed in a guiding consciousness of some sort."

Einstein is on record as having said that he does not believe in a "personal God" and even "a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings". I wish you would stop saying this.

"What surprises me is that so many people with far less knowledge than me (physics degree from cambridge) seem to think this is a trivial question and can just dismiss a guiding consciousness of some sort with a click of their fingers."

How is your Physics degree relevant, unless you have some evidence either way that we don't, a higher understanding of the universe through which you see a proof for a creator? (And you clearly don't)

Personally, I dismiss hypotheses for which there is no evidence. I don't buy the whole Abrahamic God hypothesis because there is absolutely no verifiable evidence for it. Zero. Zip. Nada.

It is possible that what we call Big Bang was a deity creating our universe. If ever there is evidence of that, I will re-evaluate the God hypothesis at that point and possibly believe it.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 08:34:11

"people whose knowledge and understanding of science could be written on a postage stamp trying to use scientific concepts to 'disprove' god."

Who are these people?

I would be interested to see someone try to use scientific concepts to disprove the God hypothesis. I don't think "Watchmaker God" can be disproved, since we can't look beyond Big Bang.

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 08:48:00

"What I do struggle with is people whose knowledge and understanding of science could be written on a postage stamp trying to use scientific concepts to 'disprove' god."

I don't think anyone does this, do they? What I would say is that it is sound scientific method not to accept anything without evidence. There is no evidence that there is a God, so it is reasonable to work on the assumption that there isn't, until such time as evidence emerges to reexamine the no-god hypothesis. With things like the Higgs Boson there was evidence that it did exist, even though it hadn't been found. So I was reasonable to work on the assumption that it did exist, until such time as more evidence was found to show it didn't.

larrygrylls Tue 10-Jun-14 09:22:57

Cote,

'Never"? A bit defeatist for someone who has trained in a natural science that didn't even exist a few centuries ago. '

Not at all, it is a fact, it is the nature of a mathematical singularity smile. We may get ever closer but we cannot get there. FACT.

'Einstein is on record as having said that he does not believe in a "personal God" and even "a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings". I wish you would stop saying this'.

Except you are arguing with a straw man. I never said he believed in a 'personal god' or 'god who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings'. I said he believed in a higher consciousness. Let's look at some quotes from him:

'Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics and comes from the same source. They are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional "opium of the people"—cannot bear the music of the spheres. The Wonder of nature does not become smaller because one cannot measure it by the standards of human moral and human aims.'

— Einstein to an unidentified adressee, Aug.7, 1941. Einstein Archive, reel 54-927, quoted in Jammer, p. 97

'The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive. However, I am also not a "Freethinker" in the usual sense of the word because I find that this is in the main an attitude nourished exclusively by an opposition against naive superstition. My feeling is insofar religious as I am imbued with the consciousness of the insuffiency of the human mind to understand deeply the harmony of the Universe which we try to formulate as "laws of nature." It is this consciousness and humility I miss in the Freethinker mentality. Sincerely yours, Albert Einstein. '

—Letter to A. Chapple, Australia, February 23, 1954; Einstein Archive 59-405; also quoted in Nathan and Norden, Einstein on Peace P. 510

I think that proves that Einstein did believe in a higher consciousness of some sort, which is exactly what I stated in my earlier posts. It may irritate you that he believed in it, but believe in it he did.

Hakluyt,

'I don't think anyone does this, do they? What I would say is that it is sound scientific method not to accept anything without evidence.'

Agreed concerning science and scientific concepts. God is not intended to be a scientific concept. He/she is a matter of personal faith. That is what having 'faith' means. I don't personally have a meaningful faith but would not try to argue with people who did. I think sometimes that is where these threads become a 'dialogue aux sourds', people are arguing about completely different things.

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 09:28:20

Interesting. I don't think those quotations say that Einstein believed in a higher consciousness at all. Rather the opposite. He believed in the interconnectedness of things- but no suggestion of a higher power.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 09:32:53

larry - You are misrepresenting my words. And yours.

"it is the nature of a mathematical singularity. We may get ever closer but we cannot get there. FACT."

Of course we can't see beyond the Big Bang - that is what Singularily means. However we can see what happened shortly after the Big Bang (i.e. 'early universe'), which is what you claimed wasn't possible:

larrygrylls Tue 10-Jun-14 07:03:55
The reality is we increase our knowledge of the early universe but can never know it perfectly.

"Except you are arguing with a straw man. I never said he believed in a 'personal god' or 'god who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings'. I said he believed in a higher consciousness."

No. You said "*guiding consciousness*", which is not any higher consciousness like a 'watchmaker God' but a 'god who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings' whom he guides.

larrygrylls Tue 10-Jun-14 07:03:55
I proposed Einstein as a religious scientist. He believed in a guiding consciousness of some sort.

larrygrylls Tue 10-Jun-14 09:45:16

Cote,

You are being very pedantic, and incorrect.

What I meant by guiding consciousness was that the he believed that there was a consciousness guiding the laws of the Universe, not personal or fates and actions of human beings. Where did I state guiding related to human beings?

Yes, we can never know the early universe perfectly because that would mean approaching asymptotically close to the singularity. I said we could increase our knowledge, which is scientifically correct. There are many scientific and mathematical problems with perfectly knowing the early Universe, so I stand by my statement.

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 09:47:29

I don't think it's at all pedantic to differentiate between a higher consciousness and a guiding consciousness.

larrygrylls Tue 10-Jun-14 09:48:38

Hakluyt,

'My feeling is insofar religious as I am imbued with the consciousness of the insuffiency of the human mind to understand deeply the harmony of the Universe which we try to formulate as "laws of nature."'

It is the above sentence which shows me that Einstein doubted that we could comprehend the Universe and to merely ascribe it as 'laws of nature' whilst dismissing a higher consciousness was very arrogant.

You may interpret it differently...

larrygrylls Tue 10-Jun-14 09:51:20

Hakluyt,

But why does 'guiding' have to refer to humans? It is not I who is being anthropomorphic. It is always amusing to change the values of one of the physical constants and see what circumstances it would have on the Universe. Normally, it is fairly catastrophic. Now, I am not saying that there is a higher consciousness as I am agnostic on it. However, if a higher consciousness decreed the value of the gravitational and Planck's constant, it would still be a GUIDING consciousness, no matter whether humans existed at all.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 09:55:35

I'm sorry for remembering what you actually said being pedantic hmm

Re God - "Guiding consciousness" sounds like you are referring to an interventionist God, one who guides people and events. Physical laws of the universe don't need guiding since they don't change. (There are different laws at subatomic level but those don't change, either.)

Someone finding beauty & harmony in the universe and feeling humbled by it can hardly be called "religious". If that is religious, so I am, I suppose although I have never believed in any God or followed any religion for a single day in my life. To be called 'religious', by definition, you would need to follow a religion and believe in the God of that religion.

I'm sorry if you would call that being 'pedantic' but I feel it is important to use words in their correct context so we can understand each other.

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 10:03:41

"Hakluyt,

But why does 'guiding' have to refer to humans?"

It doesn't.

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 10:05:24

I think what Einstein was referring to was a sense of the transcendent. Which is unrelated to God, religion or higher (or, indeed, guiding) consciensness.

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 10:09:06

.

capsium Tue 10-Jun-14 11:13:34

I think the thing is with people feeling offense regarding others speaking out against their own particular belief system is that our world views are very tightly bound up with who we are, the decisions we make and how we live our lives essentially.

Belief systems, by their very definition, require a level of belief, a faith in something being a particular way, without being proven or fully proven. To question someone's belief, in order to shake it, could lead them them feel everything about them is being questioned, their own integrity even.

And, well, the natural thing is to be protective....once your integrity is put into question, what you stand for, and say, has doubt cast onto it. Being taken seriously potentially could become very difficult.

This is where 'debate' and ridicule can become very cruel. Whilst atheists might not personally believe in any God, many others do - religion is relatively mainstream, across all sectors of society. So you would expect a certain amount of respect, not ridicule, simply because going too much down the 'let's ridicule' path leads to religious discrimination.

I think the key is to systematically deal with questions, individual question by question and not then to draw more generic conclusions from the answers....and ask the question, don't put words into people's mouths.

Wow, this has turned into a much bigger debate than I thought it would!

I would just like to clear up a few assumptions from early on in the thread

- in my op I was just talking about MN, this board in particular actually, rather than the world as a whole. Obviously I know that in the real world there are people who believe their own thoughts to be right on both sides of the argument.

-I did not at any point say I don't like people disagreeing and stating their reasons, disagreement is fine and healthy (it would be a boring world if everyone agreed with everyone else!). What I don't understand is the need to ridicule.

I would also like to point out that I am an atheist. I believe that god does not exist. If others believe god does exist, fine. I have friends who believe it, we discuss it and question each other regularly, but I do not belittle them by saying there is no god, simply I don't believe that there is.
In the world in general, many believers and non-believers (in anything) would do well to remember that it's ok to disagree with people, we don't all have to think the same thing. If someone wants to believe in fairies, god, father christmas, aliens, whatever, that's fine.

The point I was making was basically if someone says "there's no such thing as aliens" someone who disagrees would not come on and say "of course there is, don't be ridiculous". But the reverse of the conversation is something that happens frequently.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 10-Jun-14 13:31:11

capsicum - yes ... I think that having our beliefs questioned - especially if they are beliefs in a personal God - can be quite similar to someone denigrating a member of your family. The 'attack' may not even be ill-intentioned, but it is liable to be received very personally.

Going back a bit - IME most scientists - and many others of course, I don't want to be 'two cultures' here - are philosphically agnostic. They will then have a belief - be it atheism (I believe there is no god, though it is unprovable) , Einstein's pantheism, theists of many types. Anyone here not an agnostic really?

CorusKate Tue 10-Jun-14 13:35:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Tue 10-Jun-14 13:58:28

Errol Anyone here not an agnostic really?

I am not an agnostic. I am a Christian. Really. <pinches self, yep still same, not de-materialised or anything>

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 14:12:46

"Going back a bit - IME most scientists - and many others of course, I don't want to be 'two cultures' here - are philosphically agnostic. They will then have a belief - be it atheism (I believe there is no god, though it is unprovable) , Einstein's pantheism, theists of many types. Anyone here not an agnostic really?"

Einstein was not a pantheist.

I think what scientists mean when they say they are agnostic is the same that Richard Dawkins means. As it is impossible to prove a negative, it is theoretically impossible to say that there is no God with absolute certainty. As it is impossible to say with absolute certainty that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow. So strictly speaking, atheism is not a logically tenable position to hold. However it is possible to be as sure as it is possible to be about the sun rising and about the being no god. But, on a technicality, some atheists call themselves agnostics. It does not mean the think there might be a god- it just means that they have to admit the possibility, however remote, that God will turn up tomorrow.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 10-Jun-14 15:11:45

hak - sorry, you're right - some people identified him as such but he said he wasn't.

Agree on agnosticism. Which is why unbelievers shouldn't do what the OP says they do (but IME most don't) - which is to assert their position as absolute fact. However, I'd contend that believers should do likewise and are as least as likely not to.

capsicum - do you think that the existence of God is provable?

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 15:37:31

Errol- if somebody held up an apple and asked you if, if they let it go it would hit the ground, would you say "yes"?

capsium Tue 10-Jun-14 16:15:55

Errol Not provable in the scientific/empirical sense but I believe someone can have a personal revelation.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 16:53:30

"Not provable in the scientific/empirical sense"

Is there another sense? "Prove" surely means in a way that everyone will have to see that it is real, not just you.

"but I believe someone can have a personal revelation"

You say 'personal revelation', others may say 'psychosis'.

If one day I hear a voice in my head, I will immediately get an appointment with a neurologist to see what is wrong with my brain. You would probably think it is God talking to you. Or possibly the Devil, if the voice tells you to take a knife from the kitchen and stick it into somebody, I presume.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 16:57:34

"The point I was making was basically if someone says "there's no such thing as aliens" someone who disagrees would not come on and say "of course there is, don't be ridiculous". "

I'm happy to prove you wrong.

If I saw someone claim on here that there are no extraterrestrial lifeforms, I would be happy to say "Don't be ridiculous" because:

(1) What happened once can happen again - i.e. life evolved on Earth so can happen somewhere else, too.

(2) There are billions of planets in the universe plus their satellites, so many billions of places one would have to check (very carefully, under every rock) before a statement such as "there's no such thing as aliens" can be made.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 10-Jun-14 16:59:21

What will you do if the neurologist says your brain is working just fine Cote?

ErrolTheDragon Tue 10-Jun-14 17:01:15

>Errol Not provable in the scientific/empirical sense but I believe someone can have a personal revelation.

Sounds like you're a good enough agnostic to me then! (which obv I mean as a positive). I don't doubt people can have 'personal revelations' too.... had them myself (so I believed)

hak - I'd say yes - being a shorthand for, all predictions based on the known laws of physics say that (unless there is some other force at work like a sudden tornado) the apple will fall due to the force of gravity. This isn't a matter of belief. What would you say?

capsium Tue 10-Jun-14 17:15:58

Errol I am not an Agnostic though, in that I positively believe in God and the divinity of Christ. I have a definite belief.

www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 17:16:58

Erol- so that's why it's OK to say one is an atheist, not an agnostic. I am only agnostic about God as far as you and I are agnostic about a dropped apple falling not rising.

Dione, I don't know about Cote- but if the neurologist said my brain was working fine and I had eliminated all other possible causes for the voice in my head, then I might start considering whether it was the voice of god.

capsium Tue 10-Jun-14 17:24:57

Cote

You say 'personal revelation', others may say 'psychosis'.

This statement is borderline offensive. Borderline because you have said 'others may say'. If you had declared personal revelation was synonymous with psychosis this I would have found offensive and untrue. My personal revelation is through experience and often serendipitous coincidences, which I have found meaningful in relation to my developing Faith. This is not at all related to anything that could possibly be defined as a psychotic event.

BigDorrit Tue 10-Jun-14 17:25:58

I've seen several people point out that "it's impossible to prove that god doesn't exist" as if that in some way proves that he does exist.

You also cannot prove that I don't have an invisible unicorn called Derek, but that hardly makes it a likely hypothesis.

I agree that everyone should respect someone's right to believe whatever they want, but those beliefs have to be fair game otherwise beliefs in Aryan superiority, or female inferiority, for example, would never have been adequately challenged.

BigDorrit Tue 10-Jun-14 17:30:49

The term 'agnostic' gets some bad misrepresentation too. The majority of atheists are technically agnostic as they will agree that one can't completely disprove the existence of a deity, however, 'agnostic' doesn't mean that most consider the likelihood of existence/non-existence to be 50:50. In my case it's closer to 99.99999:0.00001 which is why I call myself an atheist.

BigDorrit Tue 10-Jun-14 17:32:02

Just catching up on this thread grin

Einstein;

From a correspondence between Ensign Guy H. Raner and Albert Einstein in 1945 and 1949. Einstein responds to the accusation that he was converted by a Jesuit priest: "I have never talked to a Jesuit prest in my life. I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist." "I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one.You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from religious indoctrination received in youth." Freethought Today, November 2004

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." From a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954. It is included in Albert Einstein: The

From a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954. It is included in Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, published by Princeton University Press. Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950), p. 27.

"During the youthful period of mankind's spiritual evolution, human fantasy created gods in man's own image who, by the operations of their will were supposed to determine, or at any rate influence, the phenomenal world... The idea of God in the religions taught at present is a sublimation of that old conception of the gods. Its anthropomorphic character is shown, for instance, by the fact that men appeal to the Divine Being in prayers and plead for the fulfillment of their wishes... In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vase power in the hands of priests." Albert Einstein, reported in Science, Philosophy and Religion: A Symposium, edited by L. Bryson and

"Thus I came...to a deep religiosity, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of 12. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached a conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true....Suspicion against every kind of authority grew out of this experience...an attitude which has never left me." The Quotable Einstein

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

GarlicJuneBlooms Tue 10-Jun-14 17:49:26

Rousing applause for BigDorrit (Tue 10-Jun-14 17:25:58)

and indeed for Einstein - thanks for finding those quotes; I never can!

Since I left this thread around page 2, as was already in pain from banging my head against walls, I need to add another reply to the assertion that "Support threads are not about challenging beliefs." Of course they are, often. When someone posts that they're looking for support, not LTB, then goes on to relate a tale of abuse, it's irresponsible to suggest the spa day and candlelit dinners she's asking for. When someone says God is telling her to kill herself, it's irresponsible to take her words at face value. The same's true in many less crucial situations. My recovery support group sometimes agrees I should go back to bed; other times they encourage me to go out and do something: in those circumstances, they know me better than I do.

Any opinion worth holding is resilient. Views that can't withstand challenge are flawed from the outset.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 10-Jun-14 17:57:10

cote - I don't think we can say 'of course there is' in response to the aliens question. However, we can (for the reasons you stated) reply to the assertion that there are no such thing as aliens 'dont be ridiculous - there is a good probability that there are'. Neither of the absolutist positions can (at this time) be supported. Proof either way isn't theoretically impossible (though darned hard to prove the absence - much easier to prove their existence when the Vulcans make contact grin)

ErrolTheDragon Tue 10-Jun-14 18:10:59

hak - I call myself an agnostic atheist.

capsicum - the term'agnostic' has mutate in common usage - the merriam-webster definitions aren't particularly helpful IMO. On these philosophy/religion threads I tend to assume that Huxley's original meaning when he coined the term is what we're talking about. It's not incompatible with having a definite belief - so long as you clearly recocgnise that it is a belief.

capsium Tue 10-Jun-14 18:26:53

Errol but if you actively believe something is true, you live you life by it. Although not provable as fact, this becomes like a working understanding of what is true.

In this way I'm not Agnostic at all, I don't 'try all things...', I don't follow my own 'reason as far as it will take..' [me]. I possess a reverence for Christian belief and have Christian Faith. This is why I identify myself as a Christian.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 22:42:09

"You say 'personal revelation', others may say 'psychosis'.
'This statement is borderline offensive.'

Errm... hearing voices is a symptom of psychosis, and the above sentence you find offensive is entirely true.

Why is it, do you think, that you find reality offensive? Why can't anyone talk about these subjects without you & other faithful getting all offended?

Psychosis
Signs and symptoms[edit]
People with psychosis may have one or more of the following: hallucinations, delusions, catatonia, or a thought disorder, as described below. Impairments in social cognition also occur.[11][12]

Hallucinations[edit]
A hallucination is defined as sensory perception in the absence of external stimuli... Auditory hallucinations, particularly experiences of hearing voices, are the most common and often prominent feature of psychosis.

From Wikipedia.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 22:42:59

" if you actively believe something is true, you live you life by it. Although not provable as fact, this becomes like a working understanding of what is true. "

I have no idea what that means. "Working understanding of what is true"? hmm

gamerchick Tue 10-Jun-14 22:59:27

what I want to know is how dynamo does his thing.. the things he does is impossible so how does he do it?

GarlicJuneBlooms Tue 10-Jun-14 23:04:44

"Working understanding of what is true" sounds similar to "persistent fantasy".

Psychotic experiences are normal. Everybody has them. They can be caused by illness, medication, allergies, tiredness, strong emotions, even nothing at all. We all slip in and out of momentary sleep several times a day. Most people simply ignore their mini-psychoses, or go "well, that was odd" and forget about them. If someone has a particularly impactful or long lasting one, they might put it down to aliens or the supernatural.

Have you never heard a friend or relative's voice, knowing they're not within earshot?

ErrolTheDragon Tue 10-Jun-14 23:25:18

cote - however, you can have hallucinations without being clinically psychotic (as the wiki piece mentions). I've experienced a couple of small auditory hallucinations - on the edge of sleep, distinctly hearing my DH call out to me... except he was sound asleep. So fortunately just mildly irritating - and in retrospect interesting. What might I have thought if the voice saying my name had been someone other than my DH?

ErrolTheDragon Tue 10-Jun-14 23:31:58

xpost...

I think this bit of the discussion shows how a term such as 'psychosis' may be used by someone of a scientific bent as the correct technical term for a phenomenon, but be interpreted as offensive because 'psychotic' is unfortunately too often used as an insult 'oh he's psycho'.

GarlicJuneBlooms Tue 10-Jun-14 23:37:40

Yup, Errol smile

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 08:22:13

Cote

Why is it, do you think, that you find reality offensive? Why can't anyone talk about these subjects without you & other faithful getting all offended?

*Psychosis
Signs and symptoms[edit]
People with psychosis may have one or more of the following: hallucinations, delusions, catatonia, or a thought disorder, as described below. Impairments in social cognition also occur.[11][12]*

*Hallucinations[edit]
A hallucination is defined as sensory perception in the absence of external stimuli... Auditory hallucinations, particularly experiences of hearing voices, are the most common and often prominent feature of psychosis.*

Personal revelation does not include any of the symptoms of psychosis, the symptoms of psychosis are the symptoms of psychosis. It is offensive to suggest that all religious experiences are actually symptoms of psychosis. A lot people of Christian Faith would say their Faith is experiential, to suggest they are all experiencing psychosis is offensive.

Personally I do not experience visions or hear voices either. As I said previously, my personal revelation is through experience and often serendipitous coincidences, which I have found meaningful in relation to my developing Faith. Where people do, have visions, hear God's voice, the arguable point is "the absence of external stimuli.". If it is truly a spiritual experience there is external stimuli.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 08:38:00

If you look back at the post that you got oh so offended at, you will see that I was talking about hearing voices, not all "revelation" whatever you think those might be.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 08:53:32

" A lot people of Christian Faith would say their Faith is experiential, to suggest they are all experiencing psychosis is offensive."

Why is it offensive? If something unusual happens to someone isn't it a good idea to look at all the possibilities? And hearing voices, seeing things which aren't there, imagining that people are communicating when they aren't are all symptoms of some sorts of mental illness that a huge number of people experience in their lives. It's not offensive to suggest this should be considered before you accept that God is actually talking to you.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 09:05:48

Hak Why offensive? To globally assume dysfunction / illness for a group of people, without even examining them, is IMO offensive, as it is tantamount to prejudice.

Symptoms of a particular illness, are only symptoms of that particular illness, when it is established someone is suffering from that particular illness.

For example, if a person was short sighted, their visual perception is not what it should be. They might imagine a person from a distance is one of their relatives, but only when they get closer, realize they are not. This would not be classed a a psychotic hallucination, as it is a result of their short sightedness. Their symptoms of seeing someone as someone else are symptoms of shortsightedness.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 09:12:17

So it is offensive to say that particular symptoms might indicate a mental illness?

Well, I suppose if you assume that mental illness is something to be ashamed of......

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 09:21:21

Hak No I don't think mental illness is something to be ashamed of at all.

However I do think Foucaults's comment on insanity is very pertinent here. As I previously stated, he commented that madness has never had a definition which relates to 'absolute truth'. Instead by acquiring the power to define it, people have been able to use diagnosis of madness to gain control over people.

The question has to be asked, whether the primary motivations for suggesting insanity are in order to discredit the integrity of people of religious belief?

CorusKate Wed 11-Jun-14 09:26:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 09:27:32

OK.

Somebody hears voices. It is established that those voices do not come from any external source.

Are you really saying that we should give equal credibility to the likelihood that it is the voice of God they are hearing and that they are suffering from auditory hallucinations? Seriously?

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 09:30:08

Corus Think about your definition for a minute....Some scientists would argue that they are beginning to believe their is no such thing as true Chaos / truly random events...the patterns are just very large so difficult to detect....what about the ones who disagree?

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 09:31:42

Hak I am saying you treat every situation individually and on it's own merits. No assumptions.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 11-Jun-14 09:32:38

Have any of the believers here actually heard a voice?

CorusKate Wed 11-Jun-14 09:35:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 09:37:17

Corus I am not in the position to be able to profess an opinion about your friend since I do not know them and I am not a Psychiatrist.

This is the point.

CorusKate Wed 11-Jun-14 09:44:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 09:52:24

FWIW, I don't believe most religious people have disordered thinking or mental disorders.

I am pleased you acknowledge this.

No, the point is that when someone is talking about ways in which religious revelation is akin to psychosis, you need to know that psychosis doesn't just involve hearing voices; it can also include seeing meaning in the occurrence of "serendipitous" events.

If scientists question the existence of true randomness it renders the above, as a sure sign of dysfunction meaningless. Personally I would ask the question of whether this is causing a dysfunction in the person's life - is it causing harm to themselves or causing them to behave harmfully towards others, before I spoke of dysfunction.

CorusKate Wed 11-Jun-14 09:54:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 09:56:52

Corus Several. I know 2 people who have being committed.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 09:57:32

^been. Typo.

CorusKate Wed 11-Jun-14 09:59:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 10:00:05

I never suggested it was Corus.

CorusKate Wed 11-Jun-14 10:03:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 10:05:40

Corus I stand by what I said. In my situation, this feature of my life, it is not related to psychosis, which is a dysfunction and causes dysfunction in somebody's life. I am well.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 10:07:42

My experiences, of finding meaning in serendipitous coincidences, amount to being thankful and happy. No dysfunction there.

CorusKate Wed 11-Jun-14 10:11:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Jun-14 10:18:40

Maybe religious experiences which share the same sort of parameters as psychosis in people who are mentally well could be viewed as 'adaptive psychosis' rather than 'dysfunctional psychosis'? Our ability to see patterns is an evolved trait which helped our survival ... that sort of thing? (just exploring this idea, don't know if it makes sense).

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 10:26:18

Corus I said what I said, no more and no less. To say I "...argued,though, that people's psychosis metaphors were irrelevant because you don't hallucinate", is wrong, it is putting words into my mouth.

I actually said,

Personally I do not experience visions or hear voices either. As I said previously, my personal revelation is through experience and often serendipitous coincidences, which I have found meaningful in relation to my developing Faith. Where people do, have visions, hear God's voice, the arguable point is "the absence of external stimuli.". If it is truly a spiritual experience there is external stimuli.

This was firstly in reference to the definitions Cote quoted regarding psychosis and hallucinations, and secondly making the point that 'visions' or 'hearing God's voice' is not necessarily a symptom of psychosis. 'External stimuli' here would be the deciding factor, whether that be spiritual or physical.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 10:28:50

Errol It would make sense if you assumed there were no patterns. However the whole way we learn to make sense of the world involves discerning patterns and drawing connections.

CorusKate Wed 11-Jun-14 10:29:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Jun-14 10:35:54

No - our evolved reliance on patterns arises because they do exist and they're often a useful shortcut (bushes move, might be a tiger). But we overdo it - we see meaningful patterns where there is no real meaning (eg the jesus toast type thing). Making connections can be extremely useful - or not.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 10:38:31

Corus

But there's no evidence God exists, so the phrase "external stimuli" is not applicable.

And there is the bind. This is a matter of belief. Because I believe God does exist 'external stimuli' is applicable. If you believed God might exist the external stimuli would be potentially applicable.

On a further point though you still cannot positively equate 'visions' or 'hearing God's voice' to psychosis, without any doubt, since they could be due to other auditory or visual dysfunctions or even heightened auditory and visual perception.

CorusKate Wed 11-Jun-14 10:40:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 10:46:01

Corus

Good. smile

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 13:36:17

Capsium, the whole point of chaos theory is that 'chaos' can be mapped and predicted, therefore it is not 'random'. (It's the only book about advanced physics I've managed to finish & understand!)

The fact that randomness is, in fact, just a very big pattern has nothing at all to do with whether intelligent forces are at work. It does illustrate the limitations of human understanding - and that those limitations can be overcome by humans working in teams, inventing machines to help.

If a person wants to think an intelligent force directs events towards individuals, that's their choice. But they would be wrong to argue the existence of 'chaos' or the non-existence of randomness shows that such a force exists. There is no such evidence.

In observing repetitive patterns, we gain deeper understanding of the world including ourselves. One such pattern is that the human nervous system goes awry without sleep. This need is so crucial that the brain will put itself into sleep mode even if the conscious mind/body refuses to lie down and close its eyes. Another observed pattern is that brains do this, momentarily, throughout the day. Since the nervous system's need to constantly recalibrate its wiring is so overpowering, it's ridiculous to assert that dream-like perceptions must be real if the dreamer was awake.

There are lots of other observed patterns to human cognition, like confirmation bias and selective perception, which can be interpreted on an individual basis as supernatural but are known weaknesses in our reasoning capacity.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 13:46:12

Garlic I was making the point that drawing connections from what others would argue are random occurrences is not necessarily a sign of psychosis or indeed any dysfunction. Because firstly there is the question concerning whether they are truly random and secondly, as you have alluded to in your post, observing patterns is a functional feature of human behaviour.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 13:50:06

If a person wants to think an intelligent force directs events towards individuals, that's their choice. But they would be wrong to argue the existence of 'chaos' or the non-existence of randomness shows that such a force exists. There is no such evidence

This is not what I was arguing in my posts. I stated earlier that I do not believe you can have scientific, in the empirical, sense proof of God. The motivation concerning mentioning predicting and mapping of Chaos was to highlight the point I made above.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 13:56:50

AS I said earlier, when considering dysfunction, the important question is whether a behaviour / symptom / feature is causing harm to an individual or causing an individual to harm others.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 14:06:28

It seems to me that we disagree only in perspective, capsium? I'm saying perceptual malfunctions are normal; you're saying don't call it dysfunction.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 14:07:01

(Which I didn't!)

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 14:14:25

Possibly, Garlic.

If something is not functioning correctly, ultimately, it is dysfunctional. I suppose a sporadic malfunction could be a 'blip', in which case it is not fully dysfunctional, as it returns to functionality. There is some scale to the subject, which I do appreciate.

However when people are talking in terms of psychosis, and using it to criticize someone's experience/belief, I tend to think they mean psychosis in the 'Clinical' sense, that is, as it is an illness, dysfunctional.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 14:25:47

I wish it wasn't seen as derogatory. We don't have any acceptable words for irrational/delusory, etc. If more people understood that mini-psychoses are a normal part of human life - blips, as you say - there could be a lot less fear & confusion. That said, most people do just go "well, that was odd," and think no more about it. But we still haven't got a socially acceptable word for it!

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 14:33:29

GArlic I agree with you there.

BigDorrit thanks for finding the Einstein quotes. I've saved them off for next time someone tries to say he was a believer.

capsium you seem to be arguing again that there is no mental illness, but just a difference of opinion on what is real. That can be shown to be false and I seriously doubt you really believe it anyway.

We all know that there are people with physical or emotional damage who perceive things as other than they actually are. We can often identify the cause of the damage. An emotional trauma perhaps, a tumour, a chemical imbalance and so on.

Some believers are claiming that some of that group really are seeing/hearing gods,angels, saints, ghosts, leprechauns or whatever.

Fine, let us know when you have any evidence for that. In the meantime it's just an idea you had with nothing supporting it whereas the opposing view has a lot of scientific evidence.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 14:41:37

Back

capsium you seem to be arguing again that there is no mental illness, but just a difference of opinion on what is real. That can be shown to be false and I seriously doubt you really believe it anyway.

I am not arguing this, at all. Where have I argued this? I have posted what I have posted, no more and no less. Do not put words into my mouth.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Jun-14 14:47:33

My own term for what I've experienced is 'brain fart' but I can't see that one being much more acceptable than the others!grin I guess we all like to think of ourselves as rational, and want to be able to trust our senses so anything that challenges this is liable to make us defensive. But regardless of what we believe, we're products of our evolution and as such we're not computers with faultless sensory input and processing. We wouldn't be the inventive, adaptable species that we are if we were like that, I suspect. smile

Cue one of my favourite quotes: "It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in a delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." - Carl Sagan.

Capsium you keep quoting Foucault as though it was terribly significant. Perhaps you'd care to explain what relevance it has if not to undermine the concept of mental illness. what point are you trying to make?

oh and you said "What is viewed as 'delusional' is cultural, it is not an absolute,"

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 15:07:59

Oh, I love that Sagan quote, Errol smile

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 15:09:16

Back

Capsium you keep quoting Foucault as though it was terribly significant. Perhaps you'd care to explain what relevance it has if not to undermine the concept of mental illness. what point are you trying to make?

That people misuse the concept of mental illness to undermine the credibility of others. Ethics is vital within the medical profession.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 15:10:52

"What is viewed as 'delusional' is cultural, it is not an absolute"

ONLY if the culture accepts supernatural forces as real. In my pragmatic world it's easy to identify & name a delusion.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 15:15:17

Garlic I am thinking mainly of historical phenomenon such as women being labeled as suffering from 'hysteria'. Unmarried mothers ending up in asylums just for being an unmarried mother.

CorusKate Wed 11-Jun-14 15:44:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 15:51:04

Heh, capsium, I was thinking of those too! Most (all?) abuses like that have been created & justified under religious cultures. Thus, the culture's adherence to supernatural beliefs enables it to mislabel real events as delusional. In a pragmatic world, it makes no sense to call a woman clinically insane for getting pregnant or having an orgasm, etc.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 15:51:48

real events was the wrong term, but it'll do

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 16:01:58

"To globally assume dysfunction / illness for a group of people, without even examining them, is IMO offensive, as it is tantamount to prejudice."

You are coming across as a bit odd. Nobody said everyone who ever thought God spoke to them is psychotic.

To anyone with the attention span of a fruit fly, it should be easy to see that in that post I was talking about hearing voices being a common symptom of psychosis and that I would see a neurologist if I started hearing voices.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 16:05:01

"you need to know that psychosis doesn't just involve hearing voices; it can also include seeing meaning in the occurrence of "serendipitous" events"

Like seeing bird feathers and believing they are left there by angels? wink

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:18:27

Garlic I would say not all under religious cultures. Abuses have been part of non religious societies, for 'scientific' purposes. The victims are de-humanised for various reasons.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:26:10

Cote

Nobody said everyone who ever thought God spoke to them is psychotic.

I am pleased you have made this clear. What you did was immediately correlate personal revelation with psychosis, including hearing voices, here:

"CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 16:53:30
"Not provable in the scientific/empirical sense"

Is there another sense? "Prove" surely means in a way that everyone will have to see that it is real, not just you.

"but I believe someone can have a personal revelation"

You say 'personal revelation', others may say 'psychosis'.

If one day I hear a voice in my head, I will immediately get an appointment with a neurologist to see what is wrong with my brain. You would probably think it is God talking to you. Or possibly the Devil, if the voice tells you to take a knife from the kitchen and stick it into somebody, I presume."

Which, if this is the only connection you make, concerning personal revelation, is a limited prejudiced view.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:32:13

Cote I don't go around seeking signs that Angels have being leaving feathers as signs for me.

The only thing I actually do, which is similar, is notice Biblical symbolism and imagery within life, which acts for me as a signpost, a mnemonic, reminding me of Biblical events and promoting additional thought about certain issues. Much the same way symbolism in literature works.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:35:34

Cote

You said here,

"You are coming across as a bit odd." (When referring to a quotation of mine).

I find this comment to be a bit personal.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 16:36:26

Abuses have been part of non religious societies, for 'scientific' purposes. The victims are de-humanised for various reasons.

Regrettably true, Capsium - but the statement under examination is that "what is viewed as 'delusional' is cultural." Mengele did not think his experimental subjects were deluded, he just didn't care about their pain.

I'm still maintaining that your statement is only true when the culture adheres to supernatural beliefs.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 16:39:52

"if this is the only connection you make, concerning personal revelation, is a limited prejudiced view"

It is a realistic view.

You must be a very different person than everyone I have ever known if you are seriously saying it is "prejudiced" to assume that I might have a neurological problem if I start hearing voices smile

Most people would probably worry if they start hearing voices that nobody else can hear. I certainly hope they would, anyway.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:43:12

I have am sure I have read of some Garlic, but I would have to go through all my books to find some specific cases which I won't do at this time.

Supernatural belief is not exactly the same as religious belief though...

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 16:44:15

"You said here, "You are coming across as a bit odd." (When referring to a quotation of mine). I find this comment to be a bit personal"

Well, you were.

What do you want me to do about it?

You have just dedicated pages of this thread to get all offended and argue against something nobody said. It's an odd thing to do. That's what I said.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 16:44:39

"Supernatural belief is not exactly the same as religious belief though.."

What seems to be the difference?

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:44:57

Cote It is prejudiced to assume, but not to consider as a possibility. I hope I would do the latter, that is merely consider as a possibility, rather than assume.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:46:05

Supernatural belief can be one which does not conform to any religious belief system.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 16:46:15

On personal revelations - I have a few of these myself. One, since you're interested (wink) is "it's all about circles" - this refers to mathematics (I know!) - another is "it's all about love" in reference to ethics & societies. I don't actually expect anyone else to understand what I'm on about here and have never even shared them before; they're shorthand for big thoughts: personal shorthand to save my brain from having to follow a tortuous reasoning path whenever I consider these issues.

If somebody else uses "It's all God's work" as their own personal shorthand, it's none of my business. And I mean none. I don't want them to explain it to me, particularly as this type of revelation has no concise explanation, and I definitely don't want them to try & convince me their shorthand's the only right one.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 16:47:01

"Supernatural belief can be one which does not conform to any religious belief system."

There is no such definition. You are making this up because you can't find any significant distinction between "supernatural belief" and "religious belief".

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 16:48:01

"Supernatural belief is not exactly the same as religious belief though.."

What seems to be the difference?

grin

I'm curious, too. But not very.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 16:49:48

Oh btw, nice try with the "Supernatural is not the same thing as Religious because.... Supernatural is what is not religious" attempt grin

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:51:37

Garlic I have similar kind of thoughts regarding shapes and what I think of as waveforms in events, spheres and circles too, regarding the right action for the right circumstance / balanced approach, circular arguments crossing over into fruit, leaf and tree imagery in the Bible and mapping brain pathways in brain physiology. smile

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:53:02

Core ESP is supernatural, but not necessarily religious.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:53:16

^ Sorry Cote

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 16:57:11

capsium - I didn't ask if the word "supernatural" means "religious".

I asked what you think the difference is between a supernatural belief and a religious belief.

Do you have an answer?

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:58:52

Core The difference is the difference in meaning between the two words, supernatural and religious. confused

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 16:59:04

Yep, Capsium, I'm with you on the tree/cauliflower thing, as are millions of scientists & philosophers all over the world. And gardeners wink

Saying that some supernatural thing isn't religious doesn't mean religion isn't supernatural. Cote pre-empted you on that!

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 16:59:07

Oh yes, brain physiology.

You said "I believe spiritual belief(s) can manifest physically. ... Set patterns of thought and ways of thinking can alter brain physiology which can in turn alter people's perceptions and can be passed onto new generations."

Have you explained this about spiritual belief changing the brain's physiology?

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 16:59:26

^ I mean Cote again!

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 17:00:15

I quoted some research upthread, Cote. Did you read it?

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 17:01:21

Saying that some supernatural thing isn't religious doesn't mean religion isn't supernatural. Cote pre-empted you on that!

Oh I understand this! and agree...

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 17:01:36

capsicum - "The difference is the difference in meaning between the two words, supernatural and religious"

Are you playing dumb? hmm

Su·per·nat·u·ral - (of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.

Please explain now how that is different than religious belief.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 17:02:47

No. I genuinely did not understand what you were getting at Cote.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 17:03:57

Well now you do. What is your answer?

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 17:29:04

Religious belief involves believing in the supernatural however supernatural belief does not have to be religious.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 17:41:46

Add message | Report | Message poster CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 16:44:15
"You said here, "You are coming across as a bit odd." (When referring to a quotation of mine). I find this comment to be a bit personal"

Well, you were.

What do you want me to do about it?

You have just dedicated pages of this thread to get all offended and argue against something nobody said. It's an odd thing to do. That's what I said.

Cote, I have explained why what I thought you said was/could be construed as offensive and prejudiced. It is not up to you declare me odd for expressing this. Are you the authority on what is odd?

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 20:16:48

I wish you would stop misrepresenting stuff I say. I'm beginning to think you are doing it on purpose.

I didn't say you are odd for taking offence. I said you are coming across as slightly odd because you have created an offence that nobody said ("Everyone who has ever had a religious revelation is psychotic") and spent loads of time, yours as well as everyone else's, complaining about it.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 20:25:14

capsium - "Religious belief involves believing in the supernatural however supernatural belief does not have to be religious."

Wonderful. We are getting somewhere.

So, you understand that religious belief is a subset of the large family of supernatural beliefs.

Religious belief is a supernatural belief, no different than belief in fairies, ghosts, or distance healing.

So when you say "religious belief is not the same thing as a supernatural belief", that is like saying "a dog is not the same thing as an animal".

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 20:29:07

I admire your patience, Cote, frayed as it is grin

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 20:30:04

To look at the context where I said that, you need to look across at least two posts, if not more. Here,

^Add message | Report | Message poster Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 08:53:32
" A lot people of Christian Faith would say their Faith is experiential, to suggest they are all experiencing psychosis is offensive."^

Why is it offensive? If something unusual happens to someone isn't it a good idea to look at all the possibilities? And hearing voices, seeing things which aren't there, imagining that people are communicating when they aren't are all symptoms of some sorts of mental illness that a huge number of people experience in their lives. It's not offensive to suggest this should be considered before you accept that God is actually talking to you.

^Add message | Report | Message poster capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 09:05:48
Hak Why offensive? To globally assume dysfunction / illness for a group of people, without even examining them, is IMO offensive, as it is tantamount to prejudice.^

Symptoms of a particular illness, are only symptoms of that particular illness, when it is established someone is suffering from that particular illness.

For example, if a person was short sighted, their visual perception is not what it should be. They might imagine a person from a distance is one of their relatives, but only when they get closer, realize they are not. This would not be classed a a psychotic hallucination, as it is a result of their short sightedness. Their symptoms of seeing someone as someone else are symptoms of shortsightedness.

My point here is, essentially, that an assumption of psychosis should not take precedence over considering other explanations, in the first instance. To do this would be showing bias.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 20:37:45

So, you understand that religious belief is a subset of the large family of supernatural beliefs.

I never claimed any different. I said this in reply to Garlic, who said,

"Heh, capsium, I was thinking of those too! Most (all?) abuses like that have been created & justified under religious cultures"

"I'm still maintaining that your statement is only true when the culture adheres to supernatural beliefs."

The point I was making was that not all superstitious beliefs are religious ones, so the abuses have not been justified solely under religious cultures.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 20:40:11

"an assumption of psychosis should not take precedence over considering other explanations, in the first instance. To do this would be showing bias."

Of course I am biased towards reality. So shoot me hmm

If you hear voices, even if your initial assumption is that God is talking to you, promise us that you will seek professional help if the voice starts telling you to get a knife from the kitchen and start slaughtering people. Other than that, enjoy, I guess.

CorusKate Wed 11-Jun-14 20:40:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 20:43:59

Cote if you had said, 'You are coming across, to me, as a bit odd??', instead of omitting the 'to me', this would have made a vast amount of difference, to me, as it would have underlined the fact this is just your opinion.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 20:51:20

Of course I am biased towards reality. So shoot me

Here you go again. Who are you to define reality?

If you hear voices, even if your initial assumption is that God is talking to you, promise us that you will seek professional help if the voice starts telling you to get a knife from the kitchen and start slaughtering people. Other than that, enjoy, I guess.

Who on this thread has talked, personally, about hearing voices, in relation to their own religious experience? I also, said, more than once, if such a perception of experience causes harmful behaviours it should be considered dysfunctional.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 21:11:17

OK, I've officially run out of patience. Have a good evening, capsium.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 21:13:52

Thank you. I intend to, and I hope your evening is good to.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 21:14:43

^ too.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 21:17:45

You're being unfair, or disingenuous, capsium.

I wrote, as you accurately quoted, "Most (all?) abuses like that have been created & justified under religious cultures." See that (all?) in there?

It's ridiculous to tie up a page of posts with your argument that religion isn't a supernatural belief, so as to justify your rebuttal "not all superstitious beliefs are religious ones, so the abuses have not been justified solely under religious cultures."

I never said they were all justified under religious cultures. I've said that delusions are only culturally defined by cultures that promote supernatural beliefs. This happens because such cultures value the supernatural more highly than material facts, therefore they label 'deluded' any citizens whose engagement with the real world (such as having an orgasm) countermands their supernatural culture.

As shown by my use of "(all?)" I think we might find that every such culture justifies its abuses on religious grounds, but realise this might not be quite so. In a pragmatic non-supernatural world, however, it's easy to see who is deluded because there's no cultural impetus to deny material facts.

When CoteDAzur says a poster is "coming across" a bit odd, she can only mean in her opinion. So your sophistry is unrequired.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 21:26:49

Here's a popular example of supernatural attribution:

The river's running with blood! Eek!

Possible explanations:
1. There's been some sort of massacre upstream; the river is running blood, and it'll clear in a day or two.
2. There have been massive floods upstream, in iron or manganese rich soil, and the river's actually running with red mud.
3. God's showing his displeasure.

Historically, people living in supernaturally-led cultures have leapt straight to conclusion number 3. I would gently suggest it isn't the most likely explanation. I live in a red soil area, we'd be fucked if we assumed our annual floods were really blood! Not to mention looking pretty stupid wink

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 21:33:39

Garlic I am not arguing religion is not a supernatural belief. I have not argued this. Show me where you think I have. In fact for the sake of clarification I stated this in my 17:29 post.

Religious belief involves believing in the supernatural however supernatural belief does not have to be religious.

In a pragmatic non-supernatural world, however, it's easy to see who is deluded because there's no cultural impetus to deny material facts.

I would not be so sure about no cultural impetus for denying material facts in a pragmatic non-supernatural world. People can still be motivated to participate in lies and corruption in order to gain money / power / recognition regardless of believing in the supernatural.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 21:41:19

Yes, but they don't label me clinically insane for trying to expose their corruption! They could only do that if our culture framed their corruption as incorrupt, and everyone who didn't like it as mad. THAT would be a culturally defined 'delusion'. Cultures can only do this if they value the supernatural above the materially factual.

capsium Wed 11-Jun-14 21:48:56

Garlic if you have spent a lot of time on the SN boards, there are a few instances of parents who have had their mental integrity scrutinised and questioned, merely for insisting their child be assessed, because they believe their child has SNs. Munchausen's by proxy? Their children subsequently received diagnoses.

GarlicJuneBlooms Wed 11-Jun-14 22:06:04

Hmm. Fair point. Does social services' doctrine count as a religion? grin
Actually I would think there are rational motives for exploring whether a parent is deluded about their child's abilities. It isn't always done effectively, for sure. But it's still not the case that our culture says every parent who thinks their child's gifted, or has SN, is mad. For that to be the case, we'd have to have an official belief that all children are educationally identical - denying observable facts by force, thus labelling 'deluded' anyone who observes the facts.

Mr Gove appears to suffer this very delusion. And we can see he's mad!