I'd like to rephrase in a more blunt fashion what I quoted Donald Hoffman as saying in yesterday's blog post. Here's Hoffman.
If a system of thought, religious or otherwise, offers a claim that it wants taken seriously, then we should examine it with our best method of inquiry -- the scientific method. That is taking it seriously.
Some topics -- such as God, the good, reality, and consciousness -- have been claimed to transcend the limited scope of human concepts and thus the methods of science. I have no quarrel with someone who claims this and then, being consistent, says no more about these topics.
But if one does say more, then "What can be said at all can be said clearly" and probed with the scientific method.
And here's my blunter rephrasing:
If you believe that God, or anything else supernatural, is so ineffable it's beyond thought and language, then, please, shut the fuck up and don't say anything to the rest of us about what can't be talked about.
On the other hand, if God, or anything else supernatural, can indeed be discussed in thought and language, then be prepared for some damn tough questions about what evidence you have for your belief.
Do you get it, religious believers? You can't have it both ways.
Meaning, you can't blather on about God, soul, spirit, karma, heaven, astral regions, mystical powers, or any other sort of supernatural shit if you claim that all this stuff lies beyond the domain of human concepts, thoughts, and language.
Just be silent. Keep your ineffable experience to yourself.
Because believe me, there's nothing more boring than to have someone drone on about their supposed experience of God or something else divine, then have that person respond with "It was a personal experience" when asked to provide evidence of its existence.
Everything anyone experiences is personal. There's no such thing as an impersonal experience. But it's possible to talk about personal experiences when what's been experienced exists in a realm of shared reality.
For example, yesterday my wife and I went on a bike ride at Black Butte Ranch in central Oregon with my daughter and granddaughter that involved stopping for a photograph in front of Black Butte. You don't have to take my word for it. Here's a photo. (I don't like to smile much, or at all, in photos because I don't like my smile.)
But no one really knows what my experience of the bike ride that included a stop to feed carrots to horses grazing in the Big Meadown was like. Yet obviously I don't go around claiming that everyone should do what I just did, and have the same experience that I did.
So why do religious believers talk endlessly about how everyone should love Jesus, follow the teachings of Muhammed, embrace a living guru, or whatever? I have much more evidence to support my experience of Black Butte Ranch than any believer has about a supposed supernatural experience.
The difference between us is that I know that my experience was of a genuine reality, so I feel no need to try to convince others that what I experienced was real. On the other hand, religious believers like to blab on, and on, and on about things that there is no evidence for -- except in their own minds.
This is why they should shut their mouths unless they're prepared to present persuasive evidence that what they experienced is true. Please, don't bore those of us who like to exist in reality with your fantasies. Look, I'm fine with fantasies, so long as they are acknowledged as such.
That's what every book of fiction is: a fantasy of the author's mind. Ditto for every movie other than documentaries, or every piece of art that isn't a photograph. I have no problem with people sharing supposed supernatural experiences if they admit that there's no reason for anyone else to believe that the experience was of something objectively real.
But as Hoffman said, once you claim to be able to express your religious experience of a supernatural reality in words or concepts, be prepared to have skeptics like me try to tear apart your arguments. Reality is too precious to be diminished to someone's personal fantasy.