Is J. Neil Schulman justified (logically) in believing in God?


Recommended Posts

I said that you didn't seem to share my reservation that God would pick me and me alone.

Well, you can be reserved all you want about being picked, George, but I am afraid that happened a long time ago. :)

As to the purpose of said-picking, you are, and will likely remain, as usual, on your own with that one. I mean, you can always go argue with the motherfucker, but you know how that rolls: if you even twitch funny, the next thing you know, you will be Phil's web-mistress. And that would not be a good thing. At least for you.

rde

So much for the whole "God takes his favorites first" dealio.

Your posts were more coherent before you quit OL.

Ghs

Yes, I am afraid I have missed the point(s) of RDE's posts on this thread. They seem witty, but I am not sure what they mean.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Replies 1k
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Ghs: So you're saying the effects on a young Rascal's Wanker negate the effect of Pascal's Wager?

I've been tenacious in resisting temptation — you can put your religious gloss on that, if you wish, and I don't mind — to take part in this intricate debate. Aside, that is, from one sidebar about who deserves civility. (In short, pretty much everyone.)

I learned a great deal, nonetheless, in reading it. About good and bad manners, about religious history, about the limitations of discussion forums ('twas e'er thus), about JNS, and about GHS.

I'll jump in again, though, as to this second sidebar:

From all of the exchanges in this thread, it appears to me that, in addition to writing entertaining novels, Neil is quite a character and, I am sure, would be a fascinating conversationalist [...]

I'll second that from a decade of personal experience, reinforced as recently as this past weekend — when I was fortunate enough to share a movie, supper, and conversation with both Neil Schulman and Brad Linaweaver.

You don't have to believe me, of course, but that doesn't change the fact of what I experienced {sardonic smile}

Anyway, one obviously eternal and utterly incontrovertible truth emerged from that evening, attested to by all three of us:

The only reasonable esthetic controversy about "The King's Speech" in regard to the 83rd annual Academy Awards will be whether Colin Firth or Geoffrey Rush is more likely to get the nomination, and the Oscar, for Best Actor. Because they both deserve to have a lock on it!

Edited by Greybird
Link to post
Share on other sites
I said that you didn't seem to share my reservation that God would pick me and me alone.

Well, you can be reserved all you want about being picked, George, but I am afraid that happened a long time ago. :)

As to the purpose of said-picking, you are, and will likely remain, as usual, on your own with that one. I mean, you can always go argue with the motherfucker, but you know how that rolls: if you even twitch funny, the next thing you know, you will be Phil's web-mistress. And that would not be a good thing. At least for you.

rde

So much for the whole "God takes his favorites first" dealio.

Your posts were more coherent before you quit OL.

Ghs

Yes, I am afraid I have missed the point(s) of RDE's posts on this thread. They seem witty, but I am not sure what they mean.

My apologies to Rich. I was writing posts fast and furious last night, mostly in response to Neil, immediately before I went to bed, and for some reason I thought Rich's post was actually written by Neil. The fact it was written in an entirely different style threw me and was the reason for my remark.

I hasten to add that I'm not sure what Rich's post means, either.

Ghs

Link to post
Share on other sites

“There is no use trying; one can't believe impossible things." (Alice)

"I dare say you haven't had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” -Queen

I submit that Neil has a lot more in common with Lewis Carroll than he does with C.S. Lewis.

Despite his angry denials that he does not rest his belief in God on faith, that is precisely what he is asking of those who have requested some independently, objectively, verifiable proof for his theological assertions. He asks us to suspend our critical faculties, go into a closet, and follow his example of asking God questions that he thinks - with breathless hubris - are so brilliant that no one ever asked and will impress God to respond (his example: "Are there things about yourself that you cannot know?" Indeed a strange question to ask an omniscient being!).

I suppose a talented screenwriter, novelist, publisher, and actor could conjure up a whole lot of imaginative responses from the deity. Probably enough to fill two books and another screenplay.

And why should skeptics believe his imaginative accounts any more than similar stories from Carlos Castenada, Redfield's The Celestine Prophecy, Joseph Smith, or (fill-in-the-blank)? Well, if you don't, just go back to the darkened closet and sit there until your brain, out of sheer boredom, if nothing else, imagines something.

I have a better idea. If you have nothing better to do (and I hope you do!) than follow Neil's closet experiment, at least take along his ebooks on his conversations with God, fire-up your laptop, and read them. That is about as close as one is likely to get to duplicating Neil's purported experience with the Almighty.

If that doesn't work, you can always try one of his other novels. Or Lewis Carroll.

Edited by Jerry Biggers
Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see what the big fucking deal is with this. Oh, and Happy BD, Jerry, if I am not mistaken.

Anyway, the thing here is that people that have some kind of mystical experience or whatever the fuck you Godforsaken bastards like calling them these days, they tend to become excited little monkeys, you know? All levels/All Quadrants; they get a glance at it and then the next thing you know they do something more or less akin to drunken dialing.

It is an embarrassing, yet cute thing to behold. So, of course you Godless bastards are going to go in there and italicize it. Shit, for that matter I am a Godlike bastard and I would've done the same thing.

William James wrote this whole thing to death in what, 1904 and even provided case studies. It is not a problem. Well, actually it is a problem when you start calling up people (esp. relatives) and tell them that you have finally got something that is going to shift the fucker off-axis. Something like that. Maybe removing the fluoride from the water for everyone. Who knows, you are seeing the Eye of God and worse yet, you have technology to help you.

I liked it better when you just smoked dope. Back then it was harder to share and you just sat around and looked at your lava lamp.

But those were the old days and this is now.

I digress, but maybe lay off him for that. We've all been there.

Also, this whole "religionists" thing is stinky. Why not just go for it and call them niggers or something?

rde

Godless Bastard

Rich,

Thanks, re the "BD."

I think you are saying here, in part, that we should "maybe lay off him for that. We've all been there."

We have? :huh: Not without some, er, "chemical" stimulus! I'm sorry, a darkened closet (see Neil's suggestion on how to invite God into your life in the referenced interview at the beginning of this very long thread) just isn't gonna work for me!

Anyway, it is he (that is, Neil. Not God) that came onto to OL and has vociferously, not to mention stridently, defended his theological assertions and insists that we believe his story on faith. :rolleyes:

Don't get me wrong on this: Neil can believe whatever he likes. Here on OL and in his books. Fine. But if he cannot give a persuasive argument on this topic, then I don't have to believe his account.

As for "religionist," you would prefer "Fideist?," or "faither?" "Mystic of the Mind" (i.e., "Witchdoctor").

:

Whatever. :D:rolleyes:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Why should George H. Smith or anyone else regard any of what I have to say as reflecting reality in any way, rather than being fictional creations from the mind of novelist J. Neil Schulman?

Why would I expect that you could?

I state my premises.

Do not accept my account on faith. That is a rationalist/objectivist position.

Do not suspend your rational faculties but accept this as a challenge to re-examine your previous conclusions, as I did. That is a suggestion not for faith but for rational open-mindedness.

You have given no good reasons why atheists should re-examine their previous conclusions.

I get challenged by Christians all the time to get on my knees and ask Jesus to come "into my heart" -- and to keep doing this until this "experiment" works. Then you challenge me to pray at least once a day for a year so I might be able to talk to your God.

You seem to have no conception of how preposterous your "challenge" is. And to claim that anyone who dismisses it does not display "rational open-mindedness" is insulting in the extreme. So permit me to be blunt:

First, I regard your theistic claims as quackery, pure and simple. Second, your pathetic defense of John Edward alone, according to which he is only a part-time charlatan, has diminished my regard for your critical judgment to the vanishing point. Third, your musings about the nature of God are nothing more than ad hoc assertions without a shred of argument, evidence, or proof.

Lastly, your claim that you somehow verified the authenticity of your own religious experiences means absolutely nothing to other people who cannot verify it for themselves. No matter how much you crow about these and related matters, all roads lead to the same destination, namely, that we must take your word for everything. To concoct a one-year year "experiment" when you surely know that no reasonable person will accept it, and then to claim that you cannot demonstrate the truth of your assertion to closed-mind people who don't accept your challenge, is highly disingenuous.

How about if I issued this challenge to you? If you want to understand the truth of atheism once again, all you need do is to copy the entire text of ATCAG by hand three times. This would probably take you several months at least, but after you finish each copy you will come to understand more and more the error of your ways.

The point here isn't that you would not accept my "challenge" -- you wouldn't and you shouldn't. Rather, the point is that you should be pissed, or at least annoyed, that I would seriously suggest such a thing. I would be insulting your intelligence if I did.

Everything boils down to this: You come onto a predominantly atheistic list and, while supposedly conceding that no one should accept your stories on faith, you insist that rational, open-minded people should be willing to "test" your conclusions by praying at least once a day for a year. And then you get belligerent when people won't go along.

Gag me with a spoon.

So tell me, Neil, what would you do if someone accepted your "challenge" and prayed for a year, but nothing happened? Would you concede that your test had failed, that your theory had been falsified, and then reinterpret your own religious experiences as delusional? No, of course you wouldn't. Instead, you would claim that a year apparently wasn't enough time and that the person should keep trying. In short, there is no way, in principle, that your "experiment" can fail and no way that your beliefs can be falsified.

Moreover, if a person did have results similar to yours, absolutely nothing would have been demonstrated, for that person would still need to ascertain the veracity of his own experiences, and he might very well arrive at a conclusion opposite to yours.

Your failure even to consider these and other philosophical contingencies leaves me little choice but to conclude that your first priority is to convert others to your point of view, no matter what it takes. You talk about "experiments" and "protocols" without having displayed a minimal understanding of what these terms would entail.

Ghs

Link to post
Share on other sites

Neil: "Do not accept my account on faith."

No one is doubting your account. It is generally accepted on this thread. Personally, I think you are hallucinating. Aside from setting up your own church and new religion, I do not see how your story, as interesting as it might be, can travel. That would require faith.

About 40 years ago I was working customer service at Gimbels in NYC--furniture. We frequently had an overflow of calls so the powers-that-be decreed we should have an answering machine. It cost about $220 (about $1000 today) and I was sent across the street to pick up the clunky, state-of-the-art, monster. So it became my job to call these customers back when there was the time to do so. Now my step-Mother was a Special Inquiry Officer with Immigration, Dept. of Justice, now known as an Immigration Judge. Her building in lower Manhattan overlooked the World Trade Center building site. A year or so earlier I had seen the workmen in the foundation holes from the 14th floor of that building. So one day I was calling this guy back and a woman answered. After exchanging a few words she said, "Brant, is that you?" It was my step-Mother. She had been walking by this fellow's empty office and heard the phone ringing and on impulse picked it up. This was a woman whose calls were all screened. She never answered the phone first, but she did this one time.

Now at first I racked my brain trying to figure out how this could have happened, aside from a fantastical coincidence. The best I could come up with was that she had previously told the guy I was calling that I worked in Gimbels furniture and on that basis he decided to shop there and one thing led to another. I didn't ask her about that possibility and in fact we never talked about it. We both simply wanted to let that experience alone. Accept it but don't fool with it. This, of course, was no God-thing, just something to wonder about.

I had another comparable experience some years later with even less possibility of any existential corruption--in fact there was absolutely no possibility of that--and some small-time experiences too. For instance, I was walking with my Father in a public park and I was thinking about the Grand Canyon, a place I've had experiences in. Out of the blue he started talking about the Grand Canyon, a place I don't think he had ever been to. I racked my brain trying to remember anything I might have said that could have triggered that off, but there was nothing. It was just a queer experience. What is common with these experiences of mine is I accepted them as having had happened but I refused to invent explanations. Also, they had no replicable utility as such.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
Link to post
Share on other sites

Neil: "Do not accept my account on faith."

No one is doubting your account.

I'm doubting it. I think the whole thing is probably a stunt to get attention, most likely with the goal of getting someone other than himself interested in publishing his work.

J

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ghs wrote: "Everything boils down to this: You come onto a predominantly atheistic list and, while supposedly conceding that no one should accept your stories on faith, you insist that rational, open-minded people should be willing to "test" your conclusions by praying at least once a day for a year. And then you get belligerent when people won't go along."

I said this earlier in this thread, but it was, I think, taken as tongue in cheek: I would be more impressed by Neil's revelation if he brought back from God the cure for cancer. Seriously, though, wouldn't something specific and useful be an important inducement for rational and open-minded people to seriously consider Neil's claim? Surely God solved for Neil some mystery of the human condition worth sharing. 8 hours with God is a long time--not as long as Moses spent with God on Mt. Sinai, obviously, but I for one am not seriously demanding something in the order of the 10 Commandments.

Neil: other than seeing into the heart of Bill Clinton and others (and/or its metaphysical equivalent), what insights did God give you in those 8 hours that would lead a rational and open-minded person to believe that a year in prayer is worth his limited time? What about those 8 hours led you to believe the world would actually change? I have read your book, and I just don't see anything along these lines.

Forget the cure for cancer or 10 new commandments--but do give us something specific and original and useful to chew on.

I ask the question in good faith.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Neil: "Do not accept my account on faith."

No one is doubting your account. It is generally accepted on this thread. Personally, I think you are hallucinating. Aside from setting up your own church and new religion, I do not see how your story, as interesting as it might be, can travel. That would require faith.

About 40 years ago I was working customer service at Gimbels in NYC--furniture. We frequently had an overflow of calls so the powers-that-be decreed we should have an answering machine. It cost about $220 (about $1000 today) and I was sent across the street to pick up the clunky, state-of-the-art, monster. So it became my job to call these customers back when there was the time to do so. Now my step-Mother was a Special Inquiry Officer with Immigration, Dept. of Justice, now known as an Immigration Judge. Her building in lower Manhattan overlooked the World Trade Center building site. A year or so earlier I had seen the workmen in the foundation holes from the 14th floor of that building. So one day I was calling this guy back and a woman answered. After exchanging a few words she said, "Brant, is that you?" It was my step-Mother. She had been walking by this fellow's empty office and heard the phone ringing and on impulse picked it up. This was a woman whose calls were all screened. She never answered the phone first, but she did this one time.

Now at first I racked my brain trying to figure out how this could have happened, aside from a fantastical coincidence. The best I could come up with was that she had previously told the guy I was calling that I worked in Gimbels furniture and on that basis he decided to shop there and one thing led to another. I didn't ask her about that possibility and in fact we never talked about it. We both simply wanted to let that experience alone. Accept it but don't fool with it. This, of course, was no God-thing, just something to wonder about.

I had another comparable experience some years later with even less possibility of any existential corruption--in fact there was absollutely no possibility of that--and some small-time experiences too. For instance, I was walking with my Father in a public park and I was thinking about the Grand Canyon, a place I've had experiences in. Out of the blue he started talking about the Grand Canyon, a place I don't think he had ever been to. I racked my brain trying to remember anything I might have said that could have triggered that off, but there was nothing. It was just a queer experience. What is common with these experiences of mine is I accepted them as having had happened but I refused to invent explanations. Also, they had no replicable utility as such.

--Brant

Brant: Mark Twain wrote an essay on synchronicity that you mind find interesting in this regard. Can't find an decent link for you, unfortunately.

Link to post
Share on other sites

J. Neil Schulman referred to his assumption of "a cosmology that is in line with current scientific paradigms about multiple 'universes.'"

What is the scientific evidence that there are multiple universes or more than one "bounded universe"?

There is not a scintilla of empirical evidence for alternative universes. Alternate universes (associated with multiple quantum states) are mathematical constructs . It is possible (mathematically) for there to be more than one cosmos yet all have the same underlying physical laws. This follows logically from the indeterminism of quantum states. Each observable is identified with a Hermite Operator (a kind of matrix) that has multiple eigen vectors (eigen states) each with an eigen value which when squared is the probability of its associated eigen state being realized when an observation (interaction with a physical system) causes a collapse or reduction of the indeterminate state to a single state. This is the import of the famous Schoedinger's Cat conundrum.

See http://en.wikipedia...._interpretation

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_state

There have been many science fiction stories (and even some television sci fi series) based on this mathematical possibility and some physicists have taken this possibility quite seriously --- for example David Deutzch and Hugh Evertt. The television series -Sliders- was constructed on the premis that multiple worlds exist and are reached from branching points common to several of the possible worlds. However there is no empirical evidence for this possibility being actual, and the entire premise is quite unfalsifiable, when makes it science fiction, rather than science.

Ayn Rand's -Atlas Shrugged- can be read as an alternate universe story - a possible world (if you forget aboutGalt's electrical generator which violates the laws of thermodynamics). All such stories are base on a What If ... ; an event that logically could have happened, but actually did not. The existence of What If points in reality constitutes a denial of determinate causality. There would have to be prior conditions of the world from which more than one following condition or state could have followed without violating any physical laws. Objectivists (so I understand) believe that all physical effects in the world are metaphysically necessary, a manifestation of the Principle of Identity. If the physical world is what it is then at any given state only one state could follow from it in time. (Of course this collides with the principle of Free Will, if you assume the human organism is a physical entity including the operation of the brain). The denial of quantum determining parameters, so-called Hidden Variable, leads to the possibility of alternate world lines from a point of observation (interaction of a physical observer with a quantum system with multiple quantum states), but by the nature of things no such alternative has ever, or could ever be observed. Everett and Deutsch are not deluded, but their position on the matter is highly implausible.

Ba'al Chatzaf

The quantum paradigm for multiple "universes" isn't the only one. If a bounded universe exists between a big bang and a big crunch, then repeats, then there are multiple universes. Since T is a function only within one of those iterations, an observer from within any of these iterations would be able to conceive of any of the other iterations as existing simultaneously, and existence is a standing wave of multiple continua.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Why should George H. Smith or anyone else regard any of what I have to say as reflecting reality in any way, rather than being fictional creations from the mind of novelist J. Neil Schulman?

Why would I expect that you could?

I state my premises.

Do not accept my account on faith. That is a rationalist/objectivist position.

Do not suspend your rational faculties but accept this as a challenge to re-examine your previous conclusions, as I did. That is a suggestion not for faith but for rational open-mindedness.

You have given no good reasons why atheists should re-examine their previous conclusions.

I get challenged by Christians all the time to get on my knees and ask Jesus to come "into my heart" -- and to keep doing this until this "experiment" works. Then you challenge me to pray at least once a day for a year so I might be able to talk to your God.

You seem to have no conception of how preposterous your "challenge" is. And to claim that anyone who dismisses it does not display "rational open-mindedness" is insulting in the extreme. So permit me to be blunt:

First, I regard your theistic claims as quackery, pure and simple. Second, your pathetic defense of John Edward alone, according to which he is only a part-time charlatan, has diminished my regard for your critical judgment to the vanishing point. Third, your musings about the nature of God are nothing more than ad hoc assertions without a shred of argument, evidence, or proof.

Lastly, your claim that you somehow verified the authenticity of your own religious experiences means absolutely nothing to other people who cannot verify it for themselves. No matter how much you crow about these and related matters, all roads lead to the same destination, namely, that we must take your word for everything. To concoct a one-year year "experiment" when you surely know that no reasonable person will accept it, and then to claim that you cannot demonstrate the truth of your assertion to closed-mind people who don't accept your challenge, is highly disingenuous.

How about if I issued this challenge to you? If you want to understand the truth of atheism once again, all you need do is to copy the entire text of ATCAG by hand three times. This would probably take you several months at least, but after you finish each copy you will come to understand more and more the error of your ways.

The point here isn't that you would not accept my "challenge" -- you wouldn't and you shouldn't. Rather, the point is that you should be pissed, or at least annoyed, that I would seriously suggest such a thing. I would be insulting your intelligence if I did.

Everything boils down to this: You come onto a predominantly atheistic list and, while supposedly conceding that no one should accept your stories on faith, you insist that rational, open-minded people should be willing to "test" your conclusions by praying at least once a day for a year. And then you get belligerent when people won't go along.

Gag me with a spoon.

So tell me, Neil, what would you do if someone accepted your "challenge" and prayed for a year, but nothing happened? Would you concede that your test had failed, that your theory had been falsified, and then reinterpret your own religious experiences as delusional? No, of course you wouldn't. Instead, you would claim that a year apparently wasn't enough time and that the person should keep trying. In short, there is no way, in principle, that your "experiment" can fail and no way that your beliefs can be falsified.

Moreover, if a person did have results similar to yours, absolutely nothing would have been demonstrated, for that person would still need to ascertain the veracity of his own experiences, and he might very well arrive at a conclusion opposite to yours.

Your failure even to consider these and other philosophical contingencies leaves me little choice but to conclude that your first priority is to convert others to your point of view, no matter what it takes. You talk about "experiments" and "protocols" without having displayed a minimal understanding of what these terms would entail.

Ghs

The word "preposterous" is just huffing. You sound like a Victorian Englishman encountering the assertion that Britain would lose its empire in a few decades.

Everything boils down to this: You come onto a predominantly atheistic list and, while supposedly conceding that no one should accept your stories on faith, you insist that rational, open-minded people should be willing to "test" your conclusions by praying at least once a day for a year. And then you get belligerent when people won't go along.

This discussion was titled "Is J. Neil Schulman justified (logically) in believing in God?"

Now that's a challenge or an invitation to present my point of view to this "predominantly atheistic list." So I did. If emails showed up in your inbox informing you that a prominent Deist website had started a discussion titled "Is George H. Smith justified (logically) in dismissing the possibility of God?" would you ignore it?

I only get belligerent when what I write is misrepresented. It would be as annoying to you if someone kept repeating that George H. Smith disbelieves in God only because his father was a Christian minister who beat him with a Bible when he was a child. The repeated assertion from multiple writers in this discussion including you that I demand faith in my account from anyone is a heinous lie.

I think it's a clear measure of how minuscule your grasp of human nature is that you require I accept your catechism that anyone who has committed fraud has never had anything genuine about him. The cop whose joins the force because from childhood he's wanted to catch rapists and murderers, but gets assigned to Vice and starts taking bribes from drug dealers, is in your view corrupt from his first day at the academy. That view is what I call preposterous. More than that, it's infantile for you to use my quoting one line from an interview with John Edward as a basis for dismissing all my critical faculties when I never asserted that Edward's TV shows were anything but show business.

I not give a shit whether you or anyone else in this discussion believes that God exists or that I was in communication with him. I came here because it appeared there was genuine curiosity. I was wrong. You have none and that's pathetic -- almost as pathetic as your lack of imagination about anything you can't eat, smoke, read, or fuck.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I did expect people who have read Thomas S. Szasz not to be so quick as to play doctor and start issuing diagnoses of psychosis for no better reason that someone reported events outside their dogma of what is possible.

There has been no such diagnosis. Psychosis is one half of the false dilemma you set up for yourself. In several posts I pointed out that you haven't considered a third possibility: that you were mistaken in your interpretation of an unusual state of mind.

But before I even posted for the first time here you decided to ridicule and sneer at my accounts of my experience. You've called me insane because I no longer accept my former Godless worldview. For an old friend who knows me as scrupulously accurate in trying to represent my experience, that's just fucking rude.

George posted twice before your appearance. In each of the two posts he was rather light-hearted. Starbuckle did not sneer or ridicule, and neither did Ninth Doctor.

Nobody has called you insane. No one. You are utterly wrong to insist on this. It is dishonest to keep banging that drum.

Here's what Starbuckle asked: "But my main question here is whether accepting the existence of God or accepting that he had had a "psychotic break" with reality were really Schulman's only reasonable alternatives when he experienced whatever it was that he experienced."

That was a good faith question. You have dodged that question in every single post. What makes other alternatives unreasonable?

All you have to do is consider the possibility that your old atheist buddy didn't suffer a psychotic break with reality but discovered that reality was of a different nature than his previous understanding allowed for.

Nobody set the only alternative explanation of your experience as a psychotic break with reality. Nobody but you. Only you have set up this false dilemma.

Your refusal to consider the possibility of another explanation is the crux of your communication problem. Do you show good faith insisting that there is no third possibility? Is it good faith to insist that other people have set the false dilemma -- when only you have set up the alternatives?

++++++++++++++++

If I was forced to choose from the buffet of god stories, I would probably choose Neil's confection: his god doesn't actually do much, doesn't actively hurt anyone, doesn't raise a superstructure of loathsome religion, does not make lightning strike, does not intrude on the world or make anything of importance happen. An inert, distant, uninvolved and low-power god seems a lot more palatable than the other offerings.

Neil's god seems to have set everything in motion and then had a series of long naps.

So, I can provisionally accept that Neil's god is the one gem amongst all others.

Now what? Neil's god doesn't seem to have anything more to say to anyone on any subject. He has no awesome powers and no control over events. He neither causes disasters nor is able to avert them. He gives no map to salvation and has no particular beef with anyone or anything.

About the only thing we can take away from this concept of god is that life is eternal, that we humans live on in some way after 'death.'

That's a good deal, I figure. No rules, no expectations, no punishment, no anger, no hell, no nothing.

So, Neil, I can provisionally give a nod to your concept of god as the least monstrous.

Now what? What do you think I should do with this general acceptance of your god as Best In Show?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Neil: "Do not accept my account on faith."

No one is doubting your account.

I'm doubting it. I think the whole thing is probably a stunt to get attention, most likely with the goal of getting someone other than himself interested in publishing his work.

But J, you doubt everything, except your own perspicacity.

--Brant

Link to post
Share on other sites

You have given no good reasons why atheists should re-examine their previous conclusions.

I get challenged by Christians all the time to get on my knees and ask Jesus to come "into my heart" -- and to keep doing this until this "experiment" works. Then you challenge me to pray at least once a day for a year so I might be able to talk to your God.

You seem to have no conception of how preposterous your "challenge" is. And to claim that anyone who dismisses it does not display "rational open-mindedness" is insulting in the extreme. So permit me to be blunt:

First, I regard your theistic claims as quackery, pure and simple. Second, your pathetic defense of John Edward alone, according to which he is only a part-time charlatan, has diminished my regard for your critical judgment to the vanishing point. Third, your musings about the nature of God are nothing more than ad hoc assertions without a shred of argument, evidence, or proof.

Lastly, your claim that you somehow verified the authenticity of your own religious experiences means absolutely nothing to other people who cannot verify it for themselves. No matter how much you crow about these and related matters, all roads lead to the same destination, namely, that we must take your word for everything. To concoct a one-year year "experiment" when you surely know that no reasonable person will accept it, and then to claim that you cannot demonstrate the truth of your assertion to closed-mind people who don't accept your challenge, is highly disingenuous.

How about if I issued this challenge to you? If you want to understand the truth of atheism once again, all you need do is to copy the entire text of ATCAG by hand three times. This would probably take you several months at least, but after you finish each copy you will come to understand more and more the error of your ways.

The point here isn't that you would not accept my "challenge" -- you wouldn't and you shouldn't. Rather, the point is that you should be pissed, or at least annoyed, that I would seriously suggest such a thing. I would be insulting your intelligence if I did.

Everything boils down to this: You come onto a predominantly atheistic list and, while supposedly conceding that no one should accept your stories on faith, you insist that rational, open-minded people should be willing to "test" your conclusions by praying at least once a day for a year. And then you get belligerent when people won't go along.

Gag me with a spoon.

So tell me, Neil, what would you do if someone accepted your "challenge" and prayed for a year, but nothing happened? Would you concede that your test had failed, that your theory had been falsified, and then reinterpret your own religious experiences as delusional? No, of course you wouldn't. Instead, you would claim that a year apparently wasn't enough time and that the person should keep trying. In short, there is no way, in principle, that your "experiment" can fail and no way that your beliefs can be falsified.

Moreover, if a person did have results similar to yours, absolutely nothing would have been demonstrated, for that person would still need to ascertain the veracity of his own experiences, and he might very well arrive at a conclusion opposite to yours.

Your failure even to consider these and other philosophical contingencies leaves me little choice but to conclude that your first priority is to convert others to your point of view, no matter what it takes. You talk about "experiments" and "protocols" without having displayed a minimal understanding of what these terms would entail.

Ghs

The word "preposterous" is just huffing. You sound like a Victorian Englishman encountering the assertion that Britain would lose its empire in a few decades.

Sometimes the word fits.

Everything boils down to this: You come onto a predominantly atheistic list and, while supposedly conceding that no one should accept your stories on faith, you insist that rational, open-minded people should be willing to "test" your conclusions by praying at least once a day for a year. And then you get belligerent when people won't go along.

This discussion was titled "Is J. Neil Schulman justified (logically) in believing in God?"

Now that's a challenge or an invitation to present my point of view to this "predominantly atheistic list." So I did. If emails showed up in your inbox informing you that a prominent Deist website had started a discussion titled "Is George H. Smith justified (logically) in dismissing the possibility of God?" would you ignore it?

*

This sort of thing has happened to me many times over the years, especially in Christian chatrooms and sometimes on elists. Moreover, you will find many critiques of ATCAG online, including over 250 Amazon reviews and numerous YouTube videos. I haven't responded to any of these.

I used to participate from time to time in Christian chatrooms -- not to argue but to learn how intelligent Christians think and how they deal with doubt -- but I haven't done anything like this for over 7 years. I also continue to get a fair amount of unsolicited emails, some of which I answer and some of which I don't. Many critical reviews of ATCAG have been published in various Christian magazines. I think I responded to one of these in a published comment c. 1990, but not since. When dealing with friends here in Bloomington, I avoid the subject of religion whenever possible. However, I still continue to read a lot on religion and the history of religion. Much of this reading is related my my longstanding interest in the history of religious toleration and freedom. An understanding of this subject is essential to understanding the history of libertarian ideas. Many of the arguments for religious freedom, especially those based on individual conscience and the moral superiority of the voluntary over the coercive, were later applied to areas other than religion.

I only get belligerent when what I write is misrepresented. It would be as annoying to you if someone kept repeating that George H. Smith disbelieves in God only because his father was a Christian minister who beat him with a Bible when he was a child. The repeated assertion from multiple writers in this discussion including you that I demand faith in my account from anyone is a heinous lie.

You have been extremely rude to your critics on OL, calling them "assholes," etc. If you review your posts, I think you will find that you often responded like this when you thought you were not being taken seriously, not only when you thought you had been misrepresented.

I think it's a clear measure of how minuscule your grasp of human nature is that you require I accept your catechism that anyone who has committed fraud has never had anything genuine about him.

I didn't say that John Edward doesn't have anything genuine about him. Maybe he loves his mother and likes dogs. I don't know and I don't care. The point is that Edward is a charlatan when it comes to his supposed paranormal powers, and he's gotten rich by bilking countless gullible people at the rate of $750 per "reading." And there is absolutely no evidence that Edward is able to do anything other than magic tricks, so your claim that he has real psychic powers, even if these powers sometimes fail him, is spun out of thin air.

More than that, it's infantile for you to use my quoting one line from an interview with John Edward as a basis for dismissing all my critical faculties when I never asserted that Edward's TV shows were anything but show business.

You did far more than write one line about Edward. You continued to dig in your heels after I criticized your remark, claiming that he can actually talk to the "dead" on some occasions, even if not on every occasion. Yet you never presented one iota of evidence to support this claim.

I not give a shit whether you or anyone else in this discussion believes that God exists or that I was in communication with him. I came here because it appeared there was genuine curiosity. I was wrong. You have none and that's pathetic -- almost as pathetic as your lack of imagination about anything you can't eat, smoke, read, or fuck.

You would be surprised what I can imagine.

I'm sure I speak for others when I say that I don't give a shit if you believe that God exists and that you talked to him. The only thing I give a shit about is what reasons you can give why others should take you seriously. .

Some people were curious about your experiences and why you interpreted them as you did. But once they learned these details and rejected your account, what did you expect them to do? Treat you like a guru forevermore?

Ghs

Link to post
Share on other sites
The easiest way for me to explain this is to quote a section from Why Atheism? I apologize for the length of this passage, but, if I do say so myself, it is one of the better accounts of this classic argument.

Thanks for the quote. That was beautifully written -- so much so that I just went to Amazon and ordered a copy of the book. ATCAG was, as I've said previously on OL, important in cementing my relatively new atheist beliefs when I was in my 20s, and I look forward to reading this book.

Judith

Link to post
Share on other sites
As Hume points out, however, we are not obliged to consider the particular merits, the specific pros and cons, of every testimony that we come across. There are certain kinds of testimony that we should reject out of hand, without further consideration, because they report events that are impossible. And this brings us to Hume’s celebrated critique of miracles.

“A miracle,” says Hume, “is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined.” Hume is here referring to historical miracles, i.e., to reports of miraculous events that we receive from other people. His argument is a deceptively simple one. If a person claims to have witnessed a miracle, i.e., if he testifies to the violation of a natural law, then how am I to evaluate his account? Here, as in other conflicts pertaining to matters of fact, I should weigh one probability against the other. So I ask myself, Which is more probable – that what the witness says is false, or that nature did indeed take a vacation from its normal course?

I have experienced many cases of being told something that is false, but I have never witnessed a violation of natural law. Thus, in evaluating the comparative probability of these events – a falsehood versus a miracle – I should decide in favor of the former. Upon being told of a miraculous event, I should always conclude that the “witness” has conveyed a falsehood.

The biggest problem I see with Hume's approach is that our knowledge of natural laws is itself fallible and evolving. Too many things have been dismissed out of hand as being "impossible" because they appeared to defy conventional wisdom. Many of the most important breakthrough inventions have been made by people outside the field because these people didn't know which things were "impossible" and therefore proceeded to do them.

By dismissing testimony of miracles out of hand as the testimony of people who were either lying or deceived, we might miss asking the question, "WTF really happened?" And the answer to that question might be one for science, not one for religion.

Judith

Link to post
Share on other sites
Then instead of using scholarship to determine the truth of Neil's stories, you conduct an Experiment in Consciousness to see if you can replicate something akin to the event for yourself. Or not. Only if it's actually important, after spending a lifetime writing on the subject, to find out.

Neil, you suggested that George make use of you as a lab rat and examine you and your experiences. Can you suggest, beyond the experimental protocols you've already written, what kinds of experiments he or others of us might make that we might find useful, interesting, or helpful using you as a lab rat?

Judith

Link to post
Share on other sites

Judith wrote: "The biggest problem I see with Hume's approach is that our knowledge of natural laws is itself fallible and evolving. Too many things have been dismissed out of hand as being 'impossible' because they appeared to defy conventional wisdom. Many of the most important breakthrough inventions have been made by people outside the field because these people didn't know which things were 'impossible' and therefore proceeded to do them.

"By dismissing testimony of miracles out of hand as the testimony of people who were either lying or deceived, we might miss asking the question, 'WTF really happened?' And the answer to that question might be one for science, not one for religion."

I think you're conflating two separate questions: what happened, and whether what happened demonstrates what the witness claimed happened, especially when the claim does entail a notion that clearly violates identity and causality. The latter is not an issue of conventional wisdom or the latest scientific understanding. It's not possible that Geller is bending spoons directly with his mind, but of course it's well-documented that he bends spoons with his hands. Credulous people are deceived about how he bends the spoons, not whether he bends them. It is possible but not likely that aliens have visited the earth in very furtive ways; but sometimes a fuzzy photograph of a frisbee is just a fuzzy photograph of a frisbee.

Reports of a "miracle" (whether linguistically tagged that or not) are not on a par with arguments for a scientific paradigm for which evidence and coherent argument can be presented and that contradicts a prevailing paradigm about some aspect of the world. No evidence can be presented that "minds can bend spoons" in any way but indirectly, i.e., by triggering the neurons hitched to muscle cells. There are no musculo-mentalic thought waves that the brain can emit to bend spoons, lift weights or spaceships, explode planets, etc. Hume is not saying that a historic report of a "miracle," if it can be investigated at all, is never worth investigating in any respect. Some reports of alleged miracles may be more credible in at least some respects than the reports of other alleged miracles--but not with respect to any assumption that the identity of things can be supernaturally violated.

Of course, Hume's observations about the credibility of reports of miracles depend on the self-evident validity of identity and causality, which he here implicitly takes for granted but has elsewhere taken pains to dispute with epic idiotic ingenuity.

Edited by Starbuckle
Link to post
Share on other sites

J. Neil Schulman wrote: "The quantum paradigm for multiple 'universes' isn't the only one. If a bounded universe exists between a big bang and a big crunch, then repeats, then there are multiple universes. Since T is a function only within one of those iterations, an observer from within any of these iterations would be able to conceive of any of the other iterations as existing simultaneously, and existence is a standing wave of multiple continua."

How would a universe that repetitively expands and contracts, if that's what we're in, constitute more than one universe as opposed to stages of the same universe? And what relevance would this possibility have to the claims about God and his powers?

"Since T is a function only within one of those iterations, an observer from within any of these iterations would be able to conceive of any of the other iterations as existing simultaneously, and existence is a standing wave of multiple continua."

What does this statement mean and what is the evidence for it? I'm guessing "T" is time, but since time would exist in earlier or later iterations of the expansion and contraction, I'm not sure why you would say it is a "function within" only one of them. How could a repeated event be properly construed as occuring at the same time as a preceding or following one? What is a "standing wave of multiple continua"?

Link to post
Share on other sites

You have given no good reasons why atheists should re-examine their previous conclusions.

I get challenged by Christians all the time to get on my knees and ask Jesus to come "into my heart" -- and to keep doing this until this "experiment" works. Then you challenge me to pray at least once a day for a year so I might be able to talk to your God.

You seem to have no conception of how preposterous your "challenge" is. And to claim that anyone who dismisses it does not display "rational open-mindedness" is insulting in the extreme. So permit me to be blunt:

First, I regard your theistic claims as quackery, pure and simple. Second, your pathetic defense of John Edward alone, according to which he is only a part-time charlatan, has diminished my regard for your critical judgment to the vanishing point. Third, your musings about the nature of God are nothing more than ad hoc assertions without a shred of argument, evidence, or proof.

Lastly, your claim that you somehow verified the authenticity of your own religious experiences means absolutely nothing to other people who cannot verify it for themselves. No matter how much you crow about these and related matters, all roads lead to the same destination, namely, that we must take your word for everything. To concoct a one-year year "experiment" when you surely know that no reasonable person will accept it, and then to claim that you cannot demonstrate the truth of your assertion to closed-mind people who don't accept your challenge, is highly disingenuous.

How about if I issued this challenge to you? If you want to understand the truth of atheism once again, all you need do is to copy the entire text of ATCAG by hand three times. This would probably take you several months at least, but after you finish each copy you will come to understand more and more the error of your ways.

The point here isn't that you would not accept my "challenge" -- you wouldn't and you shouldn't. Rather, the point is that you should be pissed, or at least annoyed, that I would seriously suggest such a thing. I would be insulting your intelligence if I did.

Everything boils down to this: You come onto a predominantly atheistic list and, while supposedly conceding that no one should accept your stories on faith, you insist that rational, open-minded people should be willing to "test" your conclusions by praying at least once a day for a year. And then you get belligerent when people won't go along.

Gag me with a spoon.

So tell me, Neil, what would you do if someone accepted your "challenge" and prayed for a year, but nothing happened? Would you concede that your test had failed, that your theory had been falsified, and then reinterpret your own religious experiences as delusional? No, of course you wouldn't. Instead, you would claim that a year apparently wasn't enough time and that the person should keep trying. In short, there is no way, in principle, that your "experiment" can fail and no way that your beliefs can be falsified.

Moreover, if a person did have results similar to yours, absolutely nothing would have been demonstrated, for that person would still need to ascertain the veracity of his own experiences, and he might very well arrive at a conclusion opposite to yours.

Your failure even to consider these and other philosophical contingencies leaves me little choice but to conclude that your first priority is to convert others to your point of view, no matter what it takes. You talk about "experiments" and "protocols" without having displayed a minimal understanding of what these terms would entail.

Ghs

The word "preposterous" is just huffing. You sound like a Victorian Englishman encountering the assertion that Britain would lose its empire in a few decades.

Sometimes the word fits.

Everything boils down to this: You come onto a predominantly atheistic list and, while supposedly conceding that no one should accept your stories on faith, you insist that rational, open-minded people should be willing to "test" your conclusions by praying at least once a day for a year. And then you get belligerent when people won't go along.

This discussion was titled "Is J. Neil Schulman justified (logically) in believing in God?"

Now that's a challenge or an invitation to present my point of view to this "predominantly atheistic list." So I did. If emails showed up in your inbox informing you that a prominent Deist website had started a discussion titled "Is George H. Smith justified (logically) in dismissing the possibility of God?" would you ignore it?

*

This sort of thing has happened to me many times over the years, especially in Christian chatrooms and sometimes on elists. Moreover, you will find many critiques of ATCAG online, including over 250 Amazon reviews and numerous YouTube videos. I haven't responded to any of these.

I used to participate from time to time in Christian chatrooms -- not to argue but to learn how intelligent Christians think and how they deal with doubt -- but I haven't done anything like this for over 7 years. I also continue to get a fair amount of unsolicited emails, some of which I answer and some of which I don't. Many critical reviews of ATCAG have been published in various Christian magazines. I think I responded to one of these in a published comment c. 1990, but not since. When dealing with friends here in Bloomington, I avoid the subject of religion whenever possible. However, I still continue to read a lot on religion and the history of religion. Much of this reading is related my my longstanding interest in the history of religious toleration and freedom. An understanding of this subject is essential to understanding the history of libertarian ideas. Many of the arguments for religious freedom, especially those based on individual conscience and the moral superiority of the voluntary over the coercive, were later applied to areas other than religion.

I only get belligerent when what I write is misrepresented. It would be as annoying to you if someone kept repeating that George H. Smith disbelieves in God only because his father was a Christian minister who beat him with a Bible when he was a child. The repeated assertion from multiple writers in this discussion including you that I demand faith in my account from anyone is a heinous lie.

You have been extremely rude to your critics on OL, calling them "assholes," etc. If you review your posts, I think you will find that you often responded like this when you thought you were not being taken seriously, not only when you thought you had been misrepresented.

I think it's a clear measure of how minuscule your grasp of human nature is that you require I accept your catechism that anyone who has committed fraud has never had anything genuine about him.

I didn't say that John Edward doesn't have anything genuine about him. Maybe he loves his mother and likes dogs. I don't know and I don't care. The point is that Edward is a charlatan when it comes to his supposed paranormal powers, and he's gotten rich by bilking countless gullible people at the rate of $750 per "reading." And there is absolutely no evidence that Edward is able to do anything other than magic tricks, so your claim that he has real psychic powers, even if these powers sometimes fail him, is spun out of thin air.

More than that, it's infantile for you to use my quoting one line from an interview with John Edward as a basis for dismissing all my critical faculties when I never asserted that Edward's TV shows were anything but show business.

You did far more than write one line about Edward. You continued to dig in your heels after I criticized your remark, claiming that he can actually talk to the "dead" on some occasions, even if not on every occasion. Yet you never presented one iota of evidence to support this claim.

I not give a shit whether you or anyone else in this discussion believes that God exists or that I was in communication with him. I came here because it appeared there was genuine curiosity. I was wrong. You have none and that's pathetic -- almost as pathetic as your lack of imagination about anything you can't eat, smoke, read, or fuck.

You would be surprised what I can imagine.

I'm sure I speak for others when I say that I don't give a shit if you believe that God exists and that you talked to him. The only thing I give a shit about is what reasons you can give why others should take you seriously. .

Some people were curious about your experiences and why you interpreted them as you did. But once they learned these details and rejected your account, what did you expect them to do? Treat you like a guru forevermore?

Ghs

Do I make a career out of charging people for psychic readings? No. I've never met John Edward, nor Allison DuBois, nor any other psychic who gets paid for readings. I've bought some of their books and read them. You know, to see if any of them had experiences like mine. Seems to me you said that's what I should have been doing. In the course of that I made horseback judgments on whether anything they said was truthful, and I gave you a very narrow opinion on one specific case. But beyond that I don't care and don't need to care. I'm not on Crusade against stage performers who compete for an audience against James Randi.

Have I set up a booth at psychic fairs trying to sell copies of my books? Nope.

If memory serves, I've spoke about my experience before two groups -- the Karl Hess Club and the Southern California C.S. Lewis Society, both of which were at least fifty percent personal friends, neither of which had more than two dozen people in the room. I've never asked for nor been offered to speak about my experiences for pay. I've never solicited any large speaking engagements on this topic. I spoke about it on an Internet radio show that I think maxed out at fifty listeners.

I maintain a website where people can buy the I Met God audiobook. I've never paid money to advertise the website beyond linking it from my other websites. I've sold six copies total since it was released -- not enough to pay the internet costs of maintaining the website. Did I solicit any sales here? Nope. I gave the link to the free text copy on my blog since I was asked for a more detailed account than was in the Gary York interview.

You won't find I Met God on Amazon.com.

So, I was minding my own business, working on the movie production of Alongside Night -- which has no paranormal, supernatural, or theological content -- not working on anything related to the topic of this forum -- when I was drawn into this discussion.

What a revoltin' development this has turned out to be.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Then instead of using scholarship to determine the truth of Neil's stories, you conduct an Experiment in Consciousness to see if you can replicate something akin to the event for yourself. Or not. Only if it's actually important, after spending a lifetime writing on the subject, to find out.

Neil, you suggested that George make use of you as a lab rat and examine you and your experiences. Can you suggest, beyond the experimental protocols you've already written, what kinds of experiments he or others of us might make that we might find useful, interesting, or helpful using you as a lab rat?

Judith

I'll get back to you on that if I get inspired.

Link to post
Share on other sites

George H. Smith wrote: "Rather than cook up some scenarios, suffice it to say that I think John Denver's character in 'Oh, God,' having experienced the events he did, was quite rational to believe that he was dealing with God. This trailer doesn't present all the relevant data, but it gives some indication."

I saw the movie, some years ago. It is understandable that the Denver character, given his cultural inheritance, should after a brief period of incredulity accept the claim that the strange old man who has booby-trapped his car is God. I would say that he is reasonable in believing it, but not justified in believing it. He has observed some so-far inexplicable events the causes of which he has not as yet investigated, and perhaps lacks the means to investigate. (Although I think the causes of thunder and lightning are pretty well known.)

Edited by Starbuckle
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now