Issuing a Challenge to Atheists and Unbelievers

by The wanderer 149 Replies latest jw friends

  • lonelysheep

    Yes...yes, it was.

  • skeptic2
    Nope. I'm quite well aware of the difference between the subjective and the objective. Did you miss that I work in Mental Health Services??

    It seems unlikely that every person who work in a Mental Health Services department understands the difference between subjective and objective.

    Therefore the premise (working in Mental Health Services) does not justify what I assume to be your implied conclusion (that you must therefore know the difference between the subjective and the objective).

    So this seems to be another non-sequitur (where the premise does not justify the conclusion), almost exactly the same as the one I pointed out earlier?

  • AlanF

    I don't believe in the existence of the Judeo-Christian God (or Allah, Thor, Zeus, etc.), the supernatural or the paranormal for one reason: there is no clear evidence that they exist. On the other hand, there is a good deal of evidence that the largely anecdotal evidence cited by believers is better explained by the powerful ability of the human mind to create illusions for itself and to misinterpret evidence. Many experiences and observations have led me to these conclusions.

    I discount the claims of people who say they've had personal experiences with gods or demons or whatever, because of a number of things like I'll describe below.

    Few Christians on this board would allow that the JW concept of "the anointed" is a Christian doctrine. Some years ago I met with two "anointed" JWs and spent the better part of a day talking to them. Both claimed to have been "anointed" for about 20 years, virtually since they became JWs. The older had been in Bethel and attached to the Writing Department for a time. The younger had been disfellowshipped for a short time and was never a Bethelite. Both were at that time loosely attached to the Writing Department and said they sometimes contributed research material which was used by the Society in various publications. I asked the younger guy about what convinced him that he was "anointed". He said that one day he was walking along the street, when all of a sudden an extremely strong feeling about knocked him off his feet, a feeling that he had been "washed clean", as he put it. From that moment on he 'knew' he was anointed. Now, most everyone on this board will agree, for one reason or another, that the Christian God could have had nothing to do with this guy's experience of "anointing". If one believes that this God exists, then he'd have to be insane to so "anoint" a JW, right? So most everyone will agree that this guy's experience, real to him as it was, was most likely a hallucination.

    Several decades ago I met a JW couple who were going through some tough marital times. My then wife and I became friendly with them and we got together socially a number of times. As JWs usually do, we recounted our experiences becoming JWs. The guy said that he was heavy into drugs when he was contacted by the JWs, and when he began studying with them he quit the drugs. He also began experiencing demon attacks. These let up as he progressed towards becoming a JW. He said that the attacks came in the form of a "succubus" (a female-shaped demon) getting into bed with him at night and trying to have sex with him. The attacks were often quite violent, and shook the bed around a good deal. I asked him if he had been taking hallucinogenic drugs, and if he thought that these attacks might have been left over from his recent drug habit. He was adamant that he took no such drugs, and that the attacks were no hallucinations, but were real. After all, didn't the Society teach that such attacks were not uncommon for someone studying with the JWs? But some months later, he admitted that he had been taking LSD regularly until after he started studying with the JWs. The conclusion is obvious: the man had hallucinations left over from his LSD habit and induced by his new-found knowledge that studying with the JWs could induce demon attacks.

    One poster mentioned "sleep paralysis" as a source of hallucinations that seem completely real. Most people experience this to some extent with the kind of dream where you're convinced you're awake but you can't move. I've experienced it, and it's one of the most uncomfortable things I can imagine. But the next day, I know what happened. It has been proved with scientific studies that some people experience dramatic hallucinations in this state, and even when sleep researchers present video footage to the person the next day of him lying in bed the whole night, he often remains convinced that his hallucinations were real.

    Hallucinations can also be produced by physical damage to the brain. My dad's brain was apparently damaged in the womb when his mother caught the Spanish Influenza in 1917 and nearly died. In the last 15 years of his life, he experienced increasing hallucinations. When they first began, he told me that he would see someone sitting on his bed, and would carry on a conversation with this "person", even though he knew full well that he was having a hallucination. It was as real to him as my sitting there and talking to him was.

    Many people who have these wierd experiences and hallucinations don't have the wherewithal to understand what they experienced, and so they believe they had a real experience. Nothing will convince them otherwise. After all, it was their experience, and no one ought to throw cold water on it, right?

    In his recent book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins gives a list of seven milestones in the continuous probability spectrum of belief in God. This is in a discussion of what atheism and agnosticism means in the context of "true believers in God". The last two are:

    6. Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. 'I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.'

    7. Strong atheist. 'I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung "knows" there is one.'

    Dawkins comments on this list: "I count myself in category 6, but leaning towards 7 -- I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden."

    I'm completely with Dawkins on this. I'm in category 6 with respect to God, the supernatural in general, the paranormal, UFOs as conveyors of alien beings, and a lot more besides.


  • LittleToe

    Skeptic2:And yet I offered it to you as a specific piece of evidence pertaining to my own understanding of such concepts, which I (not you) presented. I guess you could take that on faith, accepting that I might have half a clue as to what I'm talking about, else you could remain skeptical to the end. Do you need to see a copy of my transcript before you'd believe that I've taken a course in Psychology, too? Even that wouldn't tell you how much, or what topics, I comprehend. Would you need to personally conduct a scientific experiment to determine and accept my level of competency?

    People make statements every day, that you can either accept or disbelieve, especially on a webboard. How far do you go down the hole, Alice, before you accept that something can be reasonably compelling without iron-fast evidence? Do you need to personally know the person, or be confident of the judgement of a mutual acquaintence, before you would accept it?

    So finally we get around to my point, which I made kind of circuitously. Most people have a level at which they become convinced, even in the absence of empirical evidence. That which is presented might be an absolute objective fact, but each will determine at which point they accept their subjective interpretation of the evidence presented to them.

    Even rational people have to work in such a manner. In your own case, if the example you've presented of your own reasoning in this thread is consistent to the way you act in everyday life, second guessing everything your senses present to you must be a pretty debilitating way of proceeding

  • Beardo
    Do you mean to imply that seeing or experiencing something means that it must be real? I'm seen many things that are not real, that do not exist, seeing them does not make them exist, experiencing them does not make them real.

    @ Skeptic2

    What about feeling something tangible as well as seeing something - witnessed and experienced by more than one person on odd occasions?

    That is the kind of event I'm talking about. Heat changes, movement of air, electric devices switching on and off, things moving involuntarily and actual apparitions?

    Not some whacked out mushroom trip.

    3 of my mates (the one autistic - just to ease the mind of the guys here who believe that people who witness odd events are clearly unbalanced one way or the other) saw a UFO three weeks ago. Also witnessed by other folk in the area. Three unsual lights suspended in midair, floating above a house, without a perceivable sound. Too low to be a plane or copter and no apparent mass beyond the orbs of light. This object has also been seen down south in the UK and after speaking to some guys on another forum, stateside as well. I'm not saying what it is or isn't, but I have enough faith in my mates to believe the tale I was told. No clear explanation. When reported on a local radio station, the DJ " took the piss " .... a typical close-minded response by one of the secular atheist "sheeple" ...

    This cold rational response to reality has its limits.

  • Beardo
    I'm completely with Dawkins on this. I'm in category 6 with respect to God, the supernatural in general, the paranormal, UFOs as conveyors of alien beings, and a lot more besides.


    Yep - good approach ... a nice comfy ride to the grave - just wait for the rational mind to kick in and all will be ok.

  • proplog2

    This subject is old and worn out. It is probably good for theists to get into one of these arguments so they can learn that they don't have much basis for their faith. Other forums have specialized in this on-going argument. There are also thousands of books on the subject. One book I like is

    "Atheist Debaters Handbook" short but powerful.

    The value of these discussions in the context of JW thinking is that it provides me with a view of the level of intellectual maturity of the participants.

  • AlanF

    My, my, beardo. You certainly come up with some compelling arguments.


  • Mr. Kim
  • LittleToe


    This subject is old and worn out.

    I couldn't agree more. Want some popcorn?

    It is probably good for theists to get into one of these arguments so they can learn that they don't have much basis for their faith.

    Alas, it doesn't work that way. "Faith" is the evidence that supports the hope. For faith to require evidence would undermine the whole premise of what faith is actually about.

    It doesn't happen frequently, but I have to agree with you on pretty much every point

    Being aware of the human condition, and having personally torn apart my own experience, I'm left with two options:

    1. Something "supernatural" exists, which I choose to define in theological contructs.
    2. I had a series of temporary brain farts, with no predictive indicators.

    I further submit that science may eventually produce explanations for the host of "experiences" expressed around the world, but currently it has neither the technology nor the inclination. There are plenty of examples of things that were once considered supernatural but are now explained by natural processes. I'm open to that.

    Applying occam's razor in my own case is literally a knife-edge thing. I find I can only come down on one side of the equation or the other dependant on belief. Either I believe that something happened, or I believe that I had a brain fart. Neither left post-facto physical evidence, and neither had predictive indicators. Only if I close my mind to even the remote possibility of the supernatural can I personally come down on the side of option 2, for there is currently no other way to rule out option 1.

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