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February 18, 2010

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I dont think this guy knows if he;s coming or going.

"I know some atheists who pooh-pooh religious experiences, thinking they are all made up, purely psychological tricks of an unsophisticated mind"

I believe quite the opposite, so he is not speaking for me as an atheist or agnostic. I believe in all probability that religious experiences are psychological tricks of an immensely sophisticated mind, not an unsophisticated one, and that under the right circumstances, anyone can have them. i certainly don't believe that ppl who have such experiences are dumb.

This aspect of mind, to be tricked or fooled or percieve erroneously, is inherent to every human mind. Not only does mind have an imaginative aspect which allows us to think abstract thoughts but also to create unreal scenarios which make for great stories of fiction. Countless experiments have shown visual processing errors of mind, of missing things or seeing only one aspect of a drawing.

These tricks or errors in perception are inherent to every human mind.

Instead what atheists suggest is to be vigilent of the complex mind's susceptability to illusion. One way of doing so is by exercosing another aspect of mind, lucid rationale thought. So if you think you have just seen God in your porridge, think about how likely that is.

Gotta be weary of an evangelist turned activist atheist, sounds like he needs his own talk show rather than anything else. how can an atheist talk in tongues? nonsense.

George, I'll agree with you that Barker could have made his point a bit more clearly. But he has an excellent understanding of how believers believe, both from his own experience and an obvious extensive reading of scientific and psychological literature.

He's participated in many debates with religious believers, so Barker knows the arguments used in defense of the reality of "spiritual experiences." What he's getting at here, I think, is this:

Some people consider that spiritual experiences don't seem genuinely real to the people having them. They supposedly have to talk themselves into the experiences, so to speak, by keeping in mind certain concepts or dogmas: "Jesus loves me; Jesus is with me."

But like you say, the human mind is more sophisticated than that. Unconscious processes are operating continually which "preprocess" our experiences of both outside reality and our inside world.

I'm not surprised that Barker knows how to turn on his speaking in tongues experience, given that he used to do this so often as a true believer. This shows that this experience isn't only a matter of belief, since he no longer believes that a divinity is speaking through him.

Rather, I took Barker's comment to mean that when the mind/brain is put in a certain state, it responds in a certain way. Most of us (me, certainly) have had the experience of talking to a dead loved one that creates a very real emotion, almost as if they were still with us.

I know that my mother is dead. I don't believe that she is still alive. Yet my eyes can begin to fill with tears if I say certain things inside my head and get myself in a particular state of mind. I understand why you end with your "nonsense," but in my experience it isn't really nonsense but a reflection of how the complex human mind can conflate imagination and reality.

Brian, I agree, humans are wonderfully complex. I disagree that the human mind conflates imagination with reality when it comes to all the 'co-incidents' that have happened throughout my life, or the long distance healing that actually works almost immediately on the person who hasn't got a clue that it is actually happening, and so if I go up to the front of the house as a non-believer while everyone is talking in tongues, I will not be in the least suprised if I talk in tongues too without effort or imagination. Pre-cognition is also a fact that many of us have experienced.

Brian,

I empathise alot with that post, particularly the last paragraph, but if we are to understand anything about this life, does it do us any good to get caught up in our emotions when we are seeking the truth?

Emotions are what make us human, and we will never rid ourselves of them, nor do i think we should do so, as some traditions would seem to suggest that we step away from desires and attachments, would mean we not only give up the suffereing but also the unexpected joys that occur.

I say rather than distancing ourselves from these emotions, recognise them for what they are, but also that its rational thought which offers the most lucid moments of clarity and truth.

I probably should not have used the word 'nonsense', but i get irritates at these guys who turn from one end of the spectrum to the other. i mean Barker goes from a raving happy clappy evangelist speaking in tongues to an activist atheist.

not sure this guy has the first inkling as to what considered rational lucid balanced skeptical enquiry is all about.

George, he was doing his research as an evangelist. He involved himself and could see the results in himself and got his own reactions as he studied and experienced. He did a U turn which shows he was honest and did not care for his reputation built up as a preacher.

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