Can you prove God's non-existence(question only for atheists,if possible)?

  • #151
789
4
Les, I know you're in here! I'm waiting for my answer. I can tell you're looking at this thread... I hope I get a big reply.
 
  • #152
Les Sleeth
Gold Member
2,166
2
Jameson said:
Question - What about meditation takes practice? I know one can't perfect it in a day like most things: tennis, piano, etc
If you can perfect tennis or playing the piano in a day, you don't need my advice! :smile:


Jameson said:
... but what specifically do you focus on improving when you meditate? The only technique I know of pertaining to meditation is breathing in and out slowly, trying to focus on nothing else besides that. I find it very relaxing. Do you have any other good ones?
There is a great deal more you can learn. Even though I claim some sort of right to speak authoritatively here, I still consider myself a student in comparison to what some people have achieved. In fact, so far I can’t see an end to the learning process, so I’ve just given up on ever “arriving” at ultimate knowledge about the inner journey.

Keeping that in mind, let me try an analogy. Let's say you were raised in a culture where most people’s flesh is very dense (I know, weird). A small segment of the population values floating on water, and that appeals to you enough so that you start looking for ways to learn what it takes to achieve expertise in floating.

Now, in your culture everyone accepts that any floating effort requires100 adjustments. Why 100? Well first, 100 is a sacred number in your culture, which means anything to be developed of value absolutely must be related to 100 in some way. From the moment of your birth, 100ism has been instilled into your brain, so you don’t even question it.

When you start investigating floating, many experts step forward to guide you. Their teachings have the requisite 100 adjustments, and they prove they are experts by all the books they’ve published, and how many people are following their programs. Nobody listening to these experts have actually learned how to float on a body of water, but since the “experts” are so skilled in creating the dream of floating, and because the listeners don’t really know what floating is like, they believe they are really learning to float by imagination alone.

Along comes someone who, rather than fantasizing about floating, really goes out to the sea and tries to float. He sinks every time, so he decides to listen to someone who is floating right before his eyes. That floater tells him just to relax, breathe, and get in harmony with the sea.

BIG problem. The aspirant floater believes to the depth of his being that any floating effort but contain 100 adjustments. The floater tells him to forget about all that, and just surrender . . . let go. No freakin’ way the aspirant says.

So for years and years, the aspirant floater tries to include 100 adjustments in the floating process. He puts a sail on his belly, he puts a flag there too. He eats cupcakes before trying to float, he says 10 Hail Marys. He crosses himself, he chants. He starves himself, he refuses to talk. He douses himself with incense, he shaves his head. He dons holy floating robes, he reads all the great floating classics.

At about 35 of the 100 adjustments required, the floater says to the aspirant, “why not try just relaxing into the sea. Let it absorb you. Let it consume you and trust you will be okay.”

“NO FREAKIN” WAY!!! Relaxin’, absorbin’, consumin’, trustin’ . . . that only adds up to four adjustments, so it can’t be right. I need 96 more things to do in order to achieve floating.”

“Okay,” the floater says, “I respect your right to proceed as you see fit. But I’ll give you four methods (as opposed to 96) which helped me float. If during your efforts you want to try them, please do.”


Now, here is the weird thing in all this. To progress, our aspirant needs to do something very simple, but he needs to sort of “undo” a lot of things he’s come to believe he needs to do. If he didn’t have to unlearn, he could float really quickly. So the irony is that to learn, one must unlearn a relatively huge number of things (as many great meditators have said), and learn something very, very simple.
 
  • #153
6,265
1,280
Les Sleeth said:
Just slapping a label on yourself as High Zen Guy, being able to piously Falwell-like, repeat Zen koans and parables, being silent, acting humble . . . none of that means anything actually realized has occurred inside.
Agreed. Also your assessment of Zen in the US as being half-baked, so to speak, and largely peopled by propagators of ideas rather than experience is on the mark as far as I have seen. (It seems to have started to be corrupted here, almost from the get go. The main reason that was possible, I think, is because in Japan it is integrated with traditional Japanese societal beliefs that don't exist here.)

So, the picture I get, is that your focus is always back to the original teachings of Buddha.
 
  • #154
6,265
1,280
Les Sleeth said:
Yes, that is how I understand the out of body experience.
OK, then, we're talking about the same thing.
No, I was thinking more that if the brain holds consciousness within the physical system (which was the alternative I offered to your theory), then a seizure might somehow trigger a partial release from the physical system.
OK. My reaction is, that the whole notion the brain might be holding a separable consciousness within the physical system probably only came about in the first place as a very natural misunderstanding of the proprioceptive disturbance from times before it was known to be a neurological event.
Well, you say it is due to the distortion of proprioception, and I suggested it might be that consciousness really is somewhat released from its physical constraints. How do you know that isn't the case?
A better question would be why am I not lead to consider "release from physical restraints" by the evidence. The new understandings of the role of the brain overturn what used to be the most logical conclusion, that this experience was exactly what it seems to be, and present a powerfully persuasive case for it being a sensory distortion.

You might well suggest that a grand mal seizure is, in fact, the authentic experience of being "seized" by a god, as the Greeks thought, and that the electrical activity we can pick up on the EEG is not the cause at all, but the result of being seized by a god. OK, I'll consider it if you can prove to me that gods exist. Ok, you say, we know gods exist because we can see what happens to a person when he's seized by a god. Round and round.

We don't need gods to give someone a seizure, nor do we need to remove their consciousness from their body to do it. We can cause seizures with electrical stimulation or with chemicals.
 
  • #155
789
4
Les Sleeth said:
If you can perfect tennis or playing the piano in a day, you don't need my advice!
That came out wrong. I meant just like tennis or piano, I know it cannot be perfected in a day. I sounded dumb.
 
  • #156
Les Sleeth
Gold Member
2,166
2
zoobyshoe said:
OK. My reaction is, that the whole notion the brain might be holding a separable consciousness within the physical system probably only came about in the first place as a very natural misunderstanding of the proprioceptive disturbance from times before it was known to be a neurological event.
Not so. It is very commonly reported by meditators. In fact, there are reports, and I know of one case personally, where someone sat down to purposely leave the body, did so, and never returned. The person I know of was old, had meditated daily for (I believe) fifty years, and was considered enlightened by those who he taught to meditate. He was found in the meditational “lotus” position with a serene look on his face, and had left a note saying goodbye and expressing love to his family and students.

The same sort of reports are known with people who've used peyote to help with the inner experience. Possibly you are familiar with Castaneda's books. I myself, before turning solely to meditation, did peyote for many years in this manner and can report such occurances.


zoobyshoe said:
A better question would be why am I not led to consider "release from physical restraints" by the evidence. The new understandings of the role of the brain overturn what used to be the most logical conclusion, that this experience was exactly what it seems to be, and present a powerfully persuasive case for it being a sensory distortion.
It might be sensory distortion. I am fully open to that possibility. Not being in on or up on the details of the research I have no opinion one way or another.


zoobyshoe said:
You might well suggest that a grand mal seizure is, in fact, the authentic experience of being "seized" by a god, as the Greeks thought, and that the electrical activity we can pick up on the EEG is not the cause at all, but the result of being seized by a god. OK, I'll consider it if you can prove to me that gods exist. Ok, you say, we know gods exist because we can see what happens to a person when he's seized by a god. Round and round.
Why would I suggest that? The introduction of the “gods” into the interpretation has nothing to do with evaluating the afflicted person’s first-hand report that he had an OBE.


zoobyshoe said:
We don't need gods to give someone a seizure, nor do we need to remove their consciousness from their body to do it. We can cause seizures with electrical stimulation or with chemicals.
Yes, but no one is claiming electrical stimulation or chemicals cannot cause a seizure; my guess is that they can cause it. We were talking about what results from a seizure, not what causes it.

The questions before the court are 1) does seizure result in an actual OBE or sensory distortion (or even both), and 2) is your insistence that we interpret the afflicted’s report of OBE as sensory distortion simply your physicalistic bias showing (as I suggested originally).

In other words, the patient actually reports OBE, but because you don’t believe in such things, decide, claiming parsimony, that the patient’s report is an illusion.
 
  • #157
Les Sleeth
Gold Member
2,166
2
Jameson said:
That came out wrong. I meant just like tennis or piano, I know it cannot be perfected in a day. I sounded dumb.
I know, I was just kidding you.

If you are still interested, I'd like to add to what I wrote to you yesterday. My brain was really shot when I posted last night, and I feel like I forgot to answer an important aspect of your question about what there is to learn. I'll try to post that later this morning.
 
  • #158
789
4
Thanks, I'd appreciate that. I want to get into meditating more. I'd love for some good exercises.
 
  • #159
Les Sleeth
Gold Member
2,166
2
zoobyshoe said:
Agreed. Also your assessment of Zen in the US as being half-baked, so to speak, and largely peopled by propagators of ideas rather than experience is on the mark as far as I have seen. (It seems to have started to be corrupted here, almost from the get go. The main reason that was possible, I think, is because in Japan it is integrated with traditional Japanese societal beliefs that don't exist here.)
Yes, but remember “Zen” is something the Japanese took from the Chinese, and the original Chinese teaching came from an itinerate Indian monk teaching meditation (one theory I have for the uniqueness of Ch'an is that Bodhidarma's first students might have been Taoists, and he fit his teaching to their strong inclination toward naturalness).

But today, the inculcation of Zen into everything from cooking and business practices to motorcycle maintenance makes little sense if we consider what the originator intended. To me, it is another example, even in Japan, of religion consuming and, in this case, watering down the whole thing except where you can find those dedicated to meditation.


zoobyshoe said:
So, the picture I get, is that your focus is always back to the original teachings of Buddha.
Not just the Buddha, but also Jesus, Nanak, Kabir, Moses (I’d include Muhammad, but it would probably cause a big fight here) . . .

See, I believe the union/samadhi type of meditation develops consciousness in a very specific way. It adds a dimension to consciousness that isn’t there before one experiences union. All those people I listed above (and there are plenty more I could list), I believe had achieved this new dimension fully. Some of their followers did too, but more achieved it partially. Most people today don’t even wonder about what their consciousnesses were like, all they relate to is wise words they might have said, or behaviors they recommended, or what the later churches decided was the right thing to believe, etc.

That’s why one of my favorite questions to ask people about Jesus, for example, is “what do you think Jesus’ conscious experience was?” We know what our own experience is like, and from observing others we probably conclude that others’ conscious experience is similar “overall” (i.e., that we share the basic phenomenon of ordinary consciousness).

But what was it about Jesus that made people trust him so fully, love him so deeply, and caused dozens to drop out of their normal lives and follow him wherever he went? If you met Jesus, what would his consciousness feel like, and would it have some effect on your own conscious experience? What was it about the feeling that made people willing to die sticking up for it?

What the majority of the world knows about is the religion which followed Jesus’ death. But very few know about another and entirely different path some followers took after the death of Jesus.

There is a book by Helen Waddell called The Desert Fathers (I think it’s out of print, but you can find it cheap through Amazon’s used book finder system). In it she describes the numerous solitary monks living in caves and cells in the vast desert wildernesses of eastern Palestine, Sinai, and particularly northern Africa (later this led to the great desert monastic populations that sprang up in the fourth and fifth centuries when thousands of monks and nuns lived in monasteries from Syria to the Nile).

Waddell takes some of her information from a much older historical work by Roseweyde called Vitae Patrum (Antwerp, 1628). A quote from that book describes the monks’ lifestyle, “[One such] place . . . [is] a vast desert . . . reached by no path, nor is the track shown by any landmarks of earth, but one journeys by the signs and courses of the stars. Water is hard to find . . . . [in such a place] those who have had their first initiation and who desire to live a remoter life, stripped of all its trappings, withdraw themselves; for the desert is vast, and the cells are sundered from one another by so wide a space that none is in sight of his neighbor, nor can any voice be heard. One by one they abide in their cells, a mighty silence is among them . . .”

What were they doing out there? If you study the long history of meditation in the monasteries (called union prayer, or prayer of the heart on Greek Orthodox side), you can trace it back to those “desert fathers.” And who did the desert fathers attribute their practices to? Jesus.

What I am getting at is that while some (most) people wanted religion, others wanted to develop their consciousness in the specific way that that union offers. We could see this most devoted kind of meditation as an attempt at developing a new dimension of consciousness and then talk about it that way. Instead of every conversation turning to the nonsense of religion, we might wonder what it was about the “new dimension” of consciousness which produced all the reports of OBE and some sort of greater consciousness existing all around us.
 
  • #160
288
0
Les Sleeth said:
There is a book by Helen Waddell called The Desert Fathers <snip> In it she describes the numerous solitary monks living in caves and cells in the vast desert wildernesses of eastern Palestine, Sinai, and particularly northern Africa .

Waddell takes some of her information from a much older historical work by Roseweyde called Vitae Patrum (Antwerp, 1628).
Wow. Those references are very useful to me, Les. And learning about them at present is synchronous with a few other similar events. Thanks!
 
  • #161
Les Sleeth
Gold Member
2,166
2
Jameson said:
Thanks, I'd appreciate that. I want to get into meditating more. I'd love for some good exercises.
In private I’d be willing to recommend where you can look, but I’ve sworn to see myself as a student until my death, and therefore never to teach actual exercises. What I am interested in doing though is helping people understand more about what union mediation is, its history, and what might achieved through it.

In my post last night I was trying to explain about how much mental baggage people have that shows up when one sits down to meditate. The mind is very strong, and usually consumed with what’s going on in one’s life. It’s momentum can’t be stopped by force, and its “ways” (thinking, for example) doesn’t lead to union.

What is exciting to discover is that in the heart of consciousness is a place already still; as far as I can tell, it can be no other way because I’ve never seen it other than perfectly still. One of my favorite union guys was the thirteenth century German Dominican monk, Meister Eckhart, who spoke of the still place, “Go to the depths of the soul, the secret place of the most high, to the roots . . . . this core is a simple stillness, which is unmoved itself but by whose immobility all things are moved.”

The secret of union is first to find and then to learn how to harmonize with that place. That’s done by sort of “surrendering” to its stillness. One doesn’t try to stop the mind; rather one tries to feel that still place, and then allow it to affect consciousness. The more one allows the still place to influence, the more easily it stills the mind until eventually one experiences a complete merging of these two aspects of consciousness (thus, the term union).

In the post where I was using the analogy of someone learning to float, I only talked about learning as “unlearning” things that interfere with union. But there is something else to learn too, which is what you get from the experience of union itself. As I said to Zooby, union adds a new dimension to consciousness that wasn’t there before.

I’d describe the new dimension as having two aspects that could be labeled feeling and seeing. Most people seem to get the feeling part first. The feeling aspect is a kind of sensitivity that gives one a deeper appreciation of one’s existence; most people seem to feel too that they’ve become part of some greater existence, beyond self, which is why (I believe) some people believe union has joined them with God (or whatever).

The manner in which the famous English monk Benard described the feeling is, in my opinion, very well put if we overlook his assigning the experience a gender (which was the tradition), “Though He has frequently come into my soul, I have never at any time been aware of the moment of His coming . . . You will ask then how, since His track is thus traceless, I could know that He is present? Because He is living and full of energy.” To me, that is very much what it “feels” like.

With the “seeing” aspect, one’s conscious experience “brightens” (I’ve described it before as seeming like one’s inner light bulb has been upgraded from 100 to 150 watts); even more dramatic is the sense of “vastness” one experiences. Angela Foligno, a thirteen century nun, says it well (again, if we overlook the traditional habit of attributing everything to God/soul), “The eyes of my soul were opened . . . whereby I did comprehend the whole world, both here and beyond the sea . . . so that through excess of marveling the soul cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘This whole world is full of God!’ Wherefore did I now comprehend that the world is but a small thing . . .”

So, what’s my point? Well, once a practitioner “unlearns” the 100 things getting in the way of union, then one starts to “learn” from the experience of feeling deeply and seeing big. So far I can’t see how one can ever learn it all there is to learn through this. It doesn’t keep one from using the intellect, or from being emotional, make one a saint (obviously :devil: ), or instantly make one enlightened. But it does add something new.
 
  • #162
6,265
1,280
Les Sleeth said:
It might be sensory distortion. I am fully open to that possibility. Not being in on or up on the details of the research I have no opinion one way or another.
OK. This is all I'm asking for. Just open mindedness about the science explanation, rather than jumping in out of nowhere and asking why I'm posting "speculative nonsence" as you put in your first post to me.

I think if I continued discussing it with you a couple more pages, I could get you to understand even better, but I'm not interested in actually flipping any of your particular ideas about the authenticity of any of these experiences, I just wanted the open mindedness.

The seizures I'm really interested in informing people about are the ones that needlessly frighten people who have no idea what they are going through: fear seizures, unpleasant flashbacks, sudden roaring in the ears, phantom smells, those people with the misplaced limbs, memory gaps, frightening apparitions, or anything that is a simple-partial that might make people think they are going crazy. The OBEs are seizures, but if they're not bothering you, and are, in fact, what you want, then you're fine. I just hope if someone posts here complaining of unwanted, unwilled, intrusive OBE experiences you will stand back and let me suggest a neurologist to them.
 
  • #163
6,265
1,280
Les Sleeth said:
Not just the Buddha...

...and some sort of greater consciousness existing all around us.
All very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to write that out for me.
 
  • #164
Les Sleeth
Gold Member
2,166
2
zoobyshoe said:
The OBEs are seizures, but if they're not bothering you, and are, in fact, what you want, then you're fine. I just hope if someone posts here complaining of unwanted, unwilled, intrusive OBE experiences you will stand back and let me suggest a neurologist to them.
LOL. Of course! I have no reason to doubt that a brain malfunction can cause the OBE experience. I was only challenging your apparent assumption that the OBE report must be an illusion, when the seizure really might be causing a genuine OBE. Personally, I wouldn't want my brain doing that to me, I figure I'll be dead soon enough so I'd rather stay fully part of this life while I can. :smile:
 
  • #165
857
2
zoobyshoe said:
No, I haven't ever heard of this. What's the end of the story? She came out of it somehow and reported an NDE?
Yes thats the end of it. She reported the NDE, which matched reality.

She had an aneurism and to remove it, doctors had to cool her body temperature, stop her heart and stop her brain. The operation lasted 6 hours or so, but im not sure how long of that she was actually dead.

After the operation, she reported having an OBE, seeing and hearing the doctor saw her skull open, seeing in detail the instruments used, seeing other doctors operating on her legs to do something with her veins, hearing and seeing a male and female doctor discuss that there was a problem with the veins in her brain, that they were too small.

After this part, she had the tunnellight experience and entered another realm where she communicated with other beings. She was later taken back to her body by one of those beings, which told her to go back in. She also saw the doctor using shocks and her body jolting up.

What made this case rare, is not what she described (because this is common during NDEs), but that it all occured in a controlled environment.

A short description can be read in that paper i posted earlier:
Several theories have been proposed to explain NDE. We did not show that psychological, neurophysiological, or physiological factors caused these experiences after cardiac arrest. Sabom22 mentions a young American woman who had complications during brain surgery for a cerebral aneurysm. The EEG of her cortex and brainstem had become totally flat. After the operation, which was eventually successful, this patient proved to have had a very deep NDE, including an out-of-body experience, with subsequently verified observations during the period of the flat EEG.
http://profezie3m.altervista.org/archivio/TheLancet_NDE.htm
 
  • #166
6,265
1,280
PIT2 said:
She had an aneurism and to remove it, doctors had to cool her body temperature, stop her heart and stop her brain. The operation lasted 6 hours or so, but im not sure how long of that she was actually dead.
Earlier you said:
PIT2 said:
Also, she did not have any blood flowing to and in her brain for several hours. One can wonder if some part of the brain remain active without any bloodflow for so long.
Are you sure you read that the bloodflow was stopped to her brain for several hours? It doesn't seem at all possible to me that they would be able to revive her.
 
  • #167
63
4
I think that asking for proof of gods non-existance is a little (no offence) pointless. we all know there is no way to actually prove there isnt a god, or that there is for that matter. I wrote a very long essay on the topic last year and found it a little difficult. there is always some one to say "but what if.." or "what about.." I think the question we should be asking is: does it really matter if he does or does not exist? do you personally need god? if you dont then he does not exist for you. I personally dont belive in a traditional god, I believe in energy, I think its important that people separate god from religion, which dictates limits and rules. does any one really know anything about god? how do we know that he is energy or that he is eternal? we cant possibly know. a god interacting and influencing peoples lives makes no sense. the universe is enormous, and we dont even know whats beyond it. one human, one planet, we are less than nothing. lets imagine there is a god for a moment, how self centered we would be to assume we are such a prority. I think we need to ask ourselves how much our society really needs a god. maybe we do. maybe the world would be a better place if we all were as faithful and caring and selfless as.. lets say mother theresa. as you can see this arguement goes around and around. do you need proff of non-existance? if so why? are you doubting what you believe? look at yourself and ask yourself if you may need something to believe in. I dont necessarily believe in god, but I have something of a theory to believe for myself that works for me. most religions come down to the very basics. do what is good, and fight for it. know what is right and do what is right even if it is hard or painful. we should not have to live for approval of some god. we should not have to live for approval from society, or friends, or family or anyone but ourselves. if there is a god he/she/it must know what is good and right. if this is the case then we have nothing to fear, if not then who cares. as long as you can accept and love who you are, and know that you are good and do whats right.
 
  • #168
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,213
176
Okay, we are way past logic now and into introspection. We are also off topic.
 
  • #169
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,213
176
PIT2, we had better keep the NDE discussions separate from anything like this. Feel free to start another thread.
 

Related Threads on Can you prove God's non-existence(question only for atheists,if possible)?

Replies
16
Views
4K
Replies
184
Views
26K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
3K
  • Last Post
7
Replies
151
Views
40K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
3K
Replies
90
Views
9K
  • Poll
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
4
Replies
96
Views
8K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
28
Views
4K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
30
Views
4K
Top