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Author Topic: Catalysts to belief?  (Read 5952 times)
wisdomsbane
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« Topic Start: June 29, 2008, 12:26:13 am »

I thought of this question while reading some of the other topics.  I was wondering what brings people around to believing, or disbelieving certain things.  I'm not talking about 'callings' or anything like that, I want to know the sort of life changing events that bring people around to go from one set of beliefs to another.  Or from believing in something, then changing their minds.

My own experiences have been a bit odd, mixing what is logical to me with experimentation, and seemingly random experiences.  I'm talking about specific beliefs, not just the religous paths.  For example, why you believe in magic (or not), rather than why you follow Wicca (or not).

Anyway, my curiosity just happened to get the better of me, and I thought it would be an interesting and possibly lively discussion.
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« Reply #1: June 29, 2008, 08:26:50 am »

I thought of this question while reading some of the other topics.  I was wondering what brings people around to believing, or disbelieving certain things.  I'm not talking about 'callings' or anything like that, I want to know the sort of life changing events that bring people around to go from one set of beliefs to another.  Or from believing in something, then changing their minds.

My own experiences have been a bit odd, mixing what is logical to me with experimentation, and seemingly random experiences.  I'm talking about specific beliefs, not just the religous paths.  For example, why you believe in magic (or not), rather than why you follow Wicca (or not).

Anyway, my curiosity just happened to get the better of me, and I thought it would be an interesting and possibly lively discussion.

Most of what I believe, I believe because of reason and experience.  If something seems unreasonable, I dig at it and poke at it until I understand it.  If its reasonable, I'll keep it.  Or alternately, I'll go by my experience.  If something doesn't match, I'll try and reconcile, and see where I get from there.  Which is at odds of many people's definition of "faith."  But it works for me.

The first of my two example of this is that the Bible never made any sense to me.  I could understand what they were trying to say, but it didn't compute.  One of my biggest reasons for leaving the Christian church was the bible's statements on homosexuality.  It didn't make any sense for me to have an all knowing all loving God create someone who was homosexual, then deny them His love if they were true to what he created.  At the time I realized that, I also realized that I couldn't follow a God that either worked that way, or (if the Bible got it wrong) to allow His followers to think that. 

I also used to be very panentheistic (all Gods are one God), and had quite an extensive cosmology to explain Life, The Universe, and Everything.  Then I got smacked upside the head by Artio, who is not the God I was working with, and in the space of 5 minutes I became a hard polytheist.  I'm still trying to adjust my cosmology to fit that.  Cheesy

Those are by no means the only examples, just the easiest to explain.  Smiley
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« Reply #2: June 29, 2008, 10:26:54 am »

I thought of this question while reading some of the other topics.  I was wondering what brings people around to believing, or disbelieving certain things.  I'm not talking about 'callings' or anything like that, I want to know the sort of life changing events that bring people around to go from one set of beliefs to another.  Or from believing in something, then changing their minds.
My own experiences have been a bit odd, mixing what is logical to me with experimentation, and seemingly random experiences.  I'm talking about specific beliefs, not just the religous paths.  For example, why you believe in magic (or not), rather than why you follow Wicca (or not).
Anyway, my curiosity just happened to get the better of me, and I thought it would be an interesting and possibly lively discussion.


I would love to have science eventually validate what I believe in. Then I wouldn't feel like such a nut job all the time.  Smiley

I believe in certain aspects of the "paranormal" and "magic" because I have personally experienced them despite there being no scientific evidence or "no reasonable explanation". When you have an ability or an experience, it is very fustrating and isolating not to have anyone believe you. I compare it to having a medical problem and the doctors keep telling you it's all in your head. 

I don't go around looking for "out there" explantions for mundane events. But if the phone is ringing and you just know it is someone you haven't talked to in a long time and she is calling to tell you she got married, despite you not even knowing she was seeing someone, then that defies all logic and reason. People who don't have this ability look at you like you should be burned at the stake or like you just pulled a trick on them, or worse tell you it was a just a coincidence!

I can't say I ever had a "life changing event"  as you asked about, that changed my religious beliefs. For me they change slowly right along with me as I grow and change.


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« Reply #3: June 29, 2008, 12:37:58 pm »

I thought of this question while reading some of the other topics.  I was wondering what brings people around to believing, or disbelieving certain things.  I'm not talking about 'callings' or anything like that, I want to know the sort of life changing events that bring people around to go from one set of beliefs to another.  Or from believing in something, then changing their minds.


Chicken egg chicken egg chicken egg...

"Belief" is a tough monkey to cage. 

To what degree do I believe my godforms are real...  Hrm.  I know they at the very least exist as a psychological construct that helps me classify my reality and keeps a friend between me and the bear.  When looking at the mythology of my deity, do I believe it as 'historical'?  Yes and no.  I think that some of the actions in the myth are historical gems that describe to me the average persons relationship to deity and the actions of daily life, but no, I don't believe the world has been recreated five times.

So back to believing in deity and why; I do see Tonan as having an influence on the social and political climates of those who identify as hers, or who are sometimes identified as hers without knowing they have been classified as such.  So in that I see a container that serves as the focus for the collective energy of those who believe in her.  I'm willing to invest a portion of energy into that container, because in moments of need I can draw from that container - and at times that container draws energy back because the connection is a two way connection. 

There is all together another energy that I probably believe in more than deity, and that's more of a life spirit thing.  It's like everything breathing together, and the sound it makes when you aren't hearing anything.  The taste in your mouth when you taste nothing, and the things you think when you think you're being original.  It's the place where classifications and imaginary boundaries mean nothing because it's not what something really IS, but what we've called it.  It's also a big part of my ancestor worship, because it really sends home the timelessness of existence.  The thread of experience, and life perpetuating itself in an unbroken line that goes back to the beginning of time is pretty amazing.  You could ask the question 'what came before' for the rest of your life and never come to the bottom of that barrel.

That experience is why I reserve a space for divinity  That there is a world out there that is part of a universe that is part of something even bigger, and that can't be contained by the rationalizations of the human mind - in spite of us telling ourselves that we have the highest functioning organ for awareness of all other living things but yet we still have no clue.

I don't put limitations on that, clauses for morality, afterlife or any great cosmic promise of being elevated above any other being for having believed in a set of concepts and codes, but that I end up landing on my feet even when I could have landed on my arse is good enough for me.
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« Reply #4: July 08, 2008, 10:46:28 pm »

I thought of this question while reading some of the other topics.  I was wondering what brings people around to believing, or disbelieving certain things.  I'm not talking about 'callings' or anything like that, I want to know the sort of life changing events that bring people around to go from one set of beliefs to another.  Or from believing in something, then changing their minds.

My own experiences have been a bit odd, mixing what is logical to me with experimentation, and seemingly random experiences.  I'm talking about specific beliefs, not just the religous paths.  For example, why you believe in magic (or not), rather than why you follow Wicca (or not).
Anyway, my curiosity just happened to get the better of me, and I thought it would be an interesting and possibly lively discussion.
I have many reason for believeing in what I believe. Most of them are fluid, there are things in the universe I will never be able to understand, so as my experience with something grows, so does my belief in it.

I guess the strongest life changing moment for me though that caused me to leave Christianity completely happened when I was a young teen. I had always been interested in other religions and faiths. I had read many books on Buddhism, Hinduism, and had begun reading a few on European Paganism. I was also very strong minded and independent. I had had many disagreements with the Catholic Church my mother forced me to go to, and I was alreadly looked down upon way before I left.

At 15, I decided that Christianity was not for me. I was still forced to go for the sake of my mother and grandmother. Which was ok, I just let my mind wander, till about 6 months later. I was sitting in a religious class (my mother was hardcore), my friend and I were discussing my recent change to vegetarianism. It was over heard by the teacher which she literally ran and got the Priest and two deacons. They seperated me from the class and took turns asking why I was going against God by not eating meat. They explained that God put animals on this planet for us to eat, starting reading me bible verses and then told me I would go to hell.

I knew at that moment that I was completely done with Christianity and that I would never return. Strangely as I knew I was done with religion, Paganism was there. It fit the values that I valued, it didn't judge me for what I ate, and thanks to them, they cause a revelation in me about myself, my own beliefs, what I wanted out of life.

Just thought I would share... and by the way I am still a vegetarian. Grin
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« Reply #5: July 09, 2008, 01:53:32 am »


I guess I should answer my own question, huh?  Like many much of what I am to day has come about as a result of years of experiences.  But in some cases it took a catalyst to actually make me realize what exactly it was I actually believed in.

My switch from Christianity came because of a pastor.  I disagreed with a sermon he had given, and made my points politely and privately.  His answer was to get up in front of the entire church and give a few verses that seemed to support what he was saying.  The problem was that the verses he used were taken out of context, what I had given him were actually whole phrases.  Instead of taking the whole thing seriously, he looked at as a kid who thought she knew everything, and decided to just combat the fact that I had disagreed with him, instead of pointing out possible errors in my logic.  I had seen this kind of thinking in other churches, and left them, this one was the worst though, partly because he did so with the intention of humiliating me.  It didn't work, instead I told some of the other church members about the whole thing, left the church that day and never went back to church again.  About a month later I found out that he didn't have more than a handful of people still attending within a week of the time I left.  Apparently the fact that his last name was God (no joke) made him think that he was the physical representation of God on earth, and that his word was to be taken on absolute faith, whether it was backed up by anything other than his own imagination or not.

After that, I decided that until something presented itself that made sense to me and meshed with my own beliefs (which I had had since I was very small), I was just not going to believe in anything whatsoever.  I started researching other religions online, and through a lot of trial and error, kind of stumbled onto the path I'm currently on.

I believe in premonitons and my intuition.  There is one reason for this, outside validation of them.  I have told people of dreams or visions I have had, and later had them come to me, creeped out by the fact that they actually happened.  Similar things have happened with my intuition where people are concerned. 

Magic I kind of believe in, but I'm not sure how to explain what I believe about it or why... (this is part of that whole codifying beliefs thing in another topic).  There really was no catalyst for this, I was introduced to it through my studies in paganism, but was very skeptical of it at first, and am to a certain extent still (no I don't think we can do anything physically unatural such as rise in the air and fly though the skies)... not sure how to explain this so I'm just going to drop it.

I read a phrase describing Chaos Magic, and realized that it fit me, (not the fun Erisian type) and not just my magic style, it fit my way of thinking as well as how I interact with the world around me.  I wish I could remember the phrase or where I read it, it was a very interesting one. 

As to anything else, there are just too many to put in here, but those are the main things.
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« Reply #6: July 26, 2008, 08:50:23 pm »

I was wondering what brings people around to believing, or disbelieving certain things.  I'm not talking about 'callings' or anything like that, I want to know the sort of life changing events that bring people around to go from one set of beliefs to another.  Or from believing in something, then changing their minds.

Well, for me, science has always been important to me.  Even as young as 2nd grade, I was interested in astronomy, meteorology, geology and paleontology.  Of course, as a child I called them stars, lightning and tornadoes, volcanoes and dinosaurs. Cool stuff!  I still love them.

Science has always formed the bedrock of my understandings of the world around me.  So when my birth religion said that the Earth, and indeed the whole universe, was only 6 thousand years old, I couldn't accept it.  Even if it meant denying a basic teaching of my (at the time) faith.

Even though science forms the foundation of my beliefs, I do not believe in scientism, that is, the belief that science and rational thought can explain everything.  For instance, I believe in intuition.  Many times throughout my life I have known things about the future that later have happened.  This has happened to me too many times to be considered coincidence.  Also, I am not psychic.  So how can this be explained through science?  Answer: it can't.  So, does this mean intuition is not real? Of course not!  Intuition, it seems, falls outside the jurisdiction of science.

I guess what I am saying is I rely on science to explain the physical world to me, and my personal experience to shape my spiritual understandings.  What about when the physical and the spiritual intersect? I guess that is where intuition come in. LOL.

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« Reply #7: July 27, 2008, 07:22:04 am »

For instance, I believe in intuition.  Many times throughout my life I have known things about the future that later have happened.  This has happened to me too many times to be considered coincidence.  Also, I am not psychic.  So how can this be explained through science?  Answer: it can't.

I'm going to take issue with your statement.  It is more accurate to say that so far intuition is under-studied.  Part of intuition is likely to be retained information that one extrapolates from, but that isn't the whole picture.  I have an article somewhere that looks at intuition, but it is very much a call for further research.

So again, I simply am not going to be silent when someone says 'it can't', when the proper wording is 'hasn't so far'
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« Reply #8: July 27, 2008, 08:23:14 am »

For instance, I believe in intuition.  Many times throughout my life I have known things about the future that later have happened.  This has happened to me too many times to be considered coincidence.  Also, I am not psychic.  So how can this be explained through science?  Answer: it can't.  So, does this mean intuition is not real? Of course not!  Intuition, it seems, falls outside the jurisdiction of science.

The fact that something has not been explained by science does not automatically mean that it can never be explained by science. Quite a bit that was once thought to be "outside the jurisdiction of science" in the past is now taught in science classes. Note that I'm certainly not claiming that science will someday be able to explain everything, just that the inability of science to explain something today does not automatically mean that science will never be able to do so.
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« Reply #9: July 27, 2008, 08:52:48 am »



I'm going to quote an abstract here.  It's a single paragraph, so I think it falls within fair usage, and this is something you could find for free anyway:

From Hodgkinson, G.P, Langan-Fox, J, and Sadler-smith, E. (2008) Intuition: A Fundamental bridging construct in the behavioural sciences, British Journal of Psychology, 99, 1-27

"Abstract: The concept of intuition has, until recently, received scant scholarly attention within and beyond the psychological sciences, despite its potential to unify a number of lines of inquiry. Presently, the literature on intuition is conceptually underdeveloped and dispersed across a range of domains of application, from education, to management, to health. In this article, we clarify and distinguish intuition from related constructs, such as insight, and review a number of theoretical models that attempt to unify cognition and affect. Intuition's place within a broader conceptual framework that distinguishes between two fundamental types of human information processing is explored. We examine recent evidence from the field of social cognitive neuroscience that identifies the potential neural correlates of these separate systems and conclude by identifying a number of theoretical and methodological challenges associated with the valid and reliable assessment of intuition as a basis for future research in this burgeoning field of inquiry."
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« Reply #10: July 27, 2008, 11:22:26 am »

I think, though that this is the case with many of the occult "sciences".  The phrase "scant scolarly attention" describes the reason for many of them not being explained.  Although I would add "lack of academic interest", as well, at least for the reason behind the lack of attention. 

There is plenty of interest, in general, in such things, but not much of it is actually in the lines of wanting to know how and/or why such things work, or at least could work.  Perhaps scientific would be a better word than academic, or even scholarly.

Personally I do believe that eventually there will be a scientific explanation for at least most of these events.  The thing is, it will take coordinated efforts from various branches (physics and psychology would be the two main ones, most likely, possibly with others depending on which particular area of study they were going after).

However, there is already some research being done into this area.  Mostly to do with what the physical body and mind can accomplish, that were previously thought to be in the realm of the supernatural.  The last I knew of this was that they are finding that the potential of the human mind and body are not quite as limited as we once thought. 

And no, I'm not going to give the myth "we only use 10% of our brains".  However, I will say that we (read: humans in general) are not using our brains to the full extent we are capable.  It is not a question, though, of how much we use it, it is more about what we use it for, how we use it, and how well we use it.  The same can also be said for the body.
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« Reply #11: July 27, 2008, 12:13:15 pm »

I think, though that this is the case with many of the occult "sciences".  The phrase "scant scolarly attention" describes the reason for many of them not being explained.  Although I would add "lack of academic interest", as well, at least for the reason behind the lack of attention. 

It depends on how you define 'scant.'  There is an entire field of psychology that looks at supposedly occult and paranormal topics - I even have one or two papers on my hard drive.  It's something I'm interested in, but isn't an area I'd want to devote myself to professionally, so I'll probably just try and read the occasional paper.  Certainly there are many psychologists that *do* specialise in this field.  I particularly remember an issue of the Psychologist (I may look this up as I'm pretty sure it's a January issue, and I haven't been subscribed that many years) which looked at concepts/ beliefs that various academics had abandoned over the previous year (from a personal perspective - this wasn't an 'outmoded concepts' column.)  In particular there was a psychologist in the field who had begun her research with a passion for wanting to prove various experiences were genuine.  A couple of decades on, and she hadn't found a shred of evidence, and was just coming to terms with her new perspective.
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« Reply #12: July 27, 2008, 09:06:30 pm »

The fact that something has not been explained by science does not automatically mean that it can never be explained by science. Quite a bit that was once thought to be "outside the jurisdiction of science" in the past is now taught in science classes. Note that I'm certainly not claiming that science will someday be able to explain everything, just that the inability of science to explain something today does not automatically mean that science will never be able to do so.

Mostly I agree with you.  But I believe that somethings will always be outside the jurisdiction of science.  Science has to ask "What is the mechanism by which such-and-such happens?".  Take psychic communication.  Science has to ask "How is the communication transmitted and received?  What form of energy is used?  Something in the electromagnetic spectrum? Or gravity perhaps?  How is the energy generated?  Just what are the mechanisms involved?"

Psychic believers claim that "psychic energy" is responsible for psychic phenomenon. If "psychic energy" is real, then what exactly is it?  How powerful is it?  How is it generated? How does it propagate?  Science cannot answer these question at this time and personally, I highly doubt science ever will.

I used psychic phenomenon as an example, but I believe that anything "spiritual" will always be outside the jurisdiction of science, though I could be wrong.  Based on my personal experiences, I am personally convinced that "spirituality" is very real, despite what science says.

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« Reply #13: July 27, 2008, 09:19:44 pm »

Mostly I agree with you.  But I believe that somethings will always be outside the jurisdiction of science.  Science has to ask "What is the mechanism by which such-and-such happens?".  Take psychic communication.  Science has to ask "How is the communication transmitted and received?  What form of energy is used?  Something in the electromagnetic spectrum? Or gravity perhaps?  How is the energy generated?  Just what are the mechanisms involved?"

Psychic believers claim that "psychic energy" is responsible for psychic phenomenon. If "psychic energy" is real, then what exactly is it?  How powerful is it?  How is it generated? How does it propagate?  Science cannot answer these question at this time and personally, I highly doubt science ever will.

I used psychic phenomenon as an example, but I believe that anything "spiritual" will always be outside the jurisdiction of science, though I could be wrong.  Based on my personal experiences, I am personally convinced that "spirituality" is very real, despite what science says.

Peace,
Atheris


I think you're lumping a few very different things together here.  At least it seems that way to me.

Psychic energy, if it exists, should be at least SOMEWHAT provable.  Either it works or it doesn't - and if it does, it's a little strange that it always falls apart when you get to the lab.

spirituality - science doesn't say anything about the truth or falseness of it.  That's a red herring.  Science and religion answer different questions - science the how, religion the why.  There's no conflict, because the questions are different.

Science CANNOT prove OR disprove religious issues unless there's a way to test them, and questions like "is there a God", f'ex, are at least at the moment completely untestable.  You can prove there's no god that's going to shoot you with lightning every time you swear at him and that's about it. Cheesy
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« Reply #14: July 27, 2008, 10:02:22 pm »

It depends on how you define 'scant.'  There is an entire field of psychology that looks at supposedly occult and paranormal topics - I even have one or two papers on my hard drive.  It's something I'm interested in, but isn't an area I'd want to devote myself to professionally, so I'll probably just try and read the occasional paper.  Certainly there are many psychologists that *do* specialise in this field.  I particularly remember an issue of the Psychologist (I may look this up as I'm pretty sure it's a January issue, and I haven't been subscribed that many years) which looked at concepts/ beliefs that various academics had abandoned over the previous year (from a personal perspective - this wasn't an 'outmoded concepts' column.)  In particular there was a psychologist in the field who had begun her research with a passion for wanting to prove various experiences were genuine.  A couple of decades on, and she hadn't found a shred of evidence, and was just coming to terms with her new perspective.

Are you talking about parapsychology?

But, what about other fields of science?  Psychology can look into the mental and possibly emotional aspects of these experiences, but what else can it examine?

I understand that psychology would be needed in order to study whether or not these experiences were merely a person's own mental constructs.  But how much farther could psychology go?  Granted most forms of divination would fall under this particular science's realm of research.  But what about healing, or other forms of magic that are supposed to have a physical effect?
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