Subject: I'm an agnostic but
Date: Jan 24 00:09
Author: Cattle Mutilator

I believe that man has a spiritual nature. There is more to us than just heredity and environment. The very fact that we can discuss things and make decisions on the basis of reason presupposes choice. The pleasure that we have from listening to music is more than chemical reactions in the brain IMHO.

A friend of mine disagreed and argued that our behavior is determined. I ended the discussion by telling him: "Obviously, I am determined to believe in free will and have no choice in the matter."

I don't know if there is a God or an afterlife and nobody really does. But I do know than there is more than the physical world. We are not machines. But, if you believe you are a machine, you are more likely to behave like one.

Subject: I agree with you
Date: Jan 24 00:26
Author: Nick

I am also agnostic, as well as being an atheist. But I believe that all life is divine, and all life is connected in ways we cannot easily observe - much less measure. I also believe that we human beings have an awesome responsibility: because we have the capacity to act as stewards for each other, and for other life on Earth, we have the responsibility to do so, to the extent of that capacity.

What hard evidence do I have for this? Nothing beyond my own (obviously subjective) experience. Thus, I would never try to "convert" anyone to my point of view.

My road is not yours, nor anyone else's. I can tell you what I see from where I stand, but I cannot tell you what you should see from where you stand.

Subject: First I have a question...what's the difference agnostic, and athiest?..
Date: Jan 24 00:27
Author: stringbean

This is gonna sound all acid-trippy, but I believe we are not just matter, but energy. Everything around us has this energy. I guess the Jedi belief in The Force, is the best way I can explain it. I understand the Supreme Being as the most advanced and conscious form of this energy. It organizes the Universe and is the executive force of all that is.

Subject: What you describe is similar to what Tesla believed
Date: Jan 24 00:32
Author: Cattle Mutilator

An agnostic isn't sure whether there is a God or not. An atheist claims that there is no God.

The closest I come to believing in God is that I think that there is an intelligence to the universe itself of which we are a part. But this isn't something you can pray to.

Subject: Agnostic & Atheist
Date: Jan 24 00:32
Author: Nick

Agnostic = One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a god

Atheist = One who does not believe in the existence of a god

Someone who sees a difference between knowledge and belief has no problem being agnostic and theist, or agnostic and atheist, at the same time.

Subject: strong vs. weak atheism
Date: Jan 24 00:45
Author: ApostateInAZ

Strong Atheist - someone who believes that there is no god
Weak Atheist - someone who believes there is no evidence to support a belief in a god

As was stated, agnosticism and atheism are mutually exclusive terms. You can be an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist. An agnostic theist would be someone who doesn't believe it is possible to "Know" that there is a god but has faith that one exists anyway. Most liberal Christians would fall into this category.

In common speech, most people equate agnosticism with weak atheism so you don't find many theists referring to themselves as agnostic unless they're the intellectual types and know what the real definition of agnostic is.

Personally, theism doesn't make any rational sense to me. I'm firmly in the agnostic camp but bounce back & forth between deism and atheism. The wonderful thing about post-mormon life is that I can change my mind every day if I feel like it.

Subject: Yes!
Date: Jan 24 01:12
Author: Nick

The wonderful thing about post-mormon life is that I can change my mind every day if I feel like it.

Exactly! But I find the reverse to be not just a Mormon thing. Our society in general would have us believe that we should pick a set of beliefs and stick with them forever; someone who changes his or her mind is often the object of distrust for doing so.

But I am not the person I was 20 years ago (and man, am I glad for that!). I am not the same person I will be 20 years from now. Why should I, or anyone, insist that I believe the same things then that I do now?

Subject: I'd pick a slight nit there...
Date: Jan 24 03:07
Author: DeafGuy

ApostateInAZ wrote:
> Weak Atheist - someone who believes there is no evidence to support a belief in a god

Not necessarily. Just because _I_ don't have the evidence doesn't mean there is no evidence. It's quite possible that the evidence is out there somewhere, we just don't have it yet. So I'd restate it as:

  Weak Atheist - someone who doesn't have sufficient evidence to support a belief in a god

Although come to think of it, this is apparently true for everyone--as far as we can tell, no one has sufficient evidence to support a belief in god, but atheists just recognize this and don't commit to an irrational belief in the absence of evidence.

Or something like that... :-)

> As was stated, agnosticism and atheism are mutually exclusive terms.

Don't you mean NOT mutually exclusive? (mutually exclusive means you can't have both at the same time, but you can be both agnostic and atheist)

Like I said, picking a nit...or two. :-)

Subject: Re: I'd pick a slight nit there...
Date: Jan 24 11:55
Author: ApostateInAZ

Mutual exclusion isn't exactly the right term here. What I meant is that many people are ignorant of what "agnostic" really means and either use the term to refer to someone who can't make up their mind in the theism/atheism debate or they use the term interchangeably with atheist. I just meant that the terms "agnostic" and "atheist" are separate concepts that don't need to go together. Strong atheists believe that evidence exists that proves conclusively that there is not a god. By definition, they are not agnostic.

Subject: Matter or energy...or both?! (Amended, with quote)
Date: Jan 24 03:00
Author: DeafGuy

stringbean wrote:
> This is gonna sound all acid-trippy, but I believe we are not just matter, but energy. is ahead of you there. The chapter in my chemistry book that I was reading on the bus home tonight touched on this...basically, matter and energy are somewhat the same entity and can change from one to the other and back again.

From the textbook:

Immeasurable Changes in Mass: From the work of Albert Einstein (1879-1955), we now know that mass and energy are alternate aspects of a single entity called mass-energy. We also know that some mass does change into energy during any chemical reaction, but the amount is far below the limit of detection of the best modern balance. For example, when 100 g of carbon burns in oxygen, only 0.000000036 g (3.6x10-8 g) of mass is converted to energy and, thus, not accounted for in the product, carbon dioxide. The energy yields of ordinary chemical reactions are relatively small; so, for all practical purposes, mass is conserved. (As you'll see later, however, energy changes in nuclear reactions are so large that mass changes are measured easily.) (Chemistry: The Molecular Nature of Matter and Change, 3rd Ed., Silberberg)

If I understand it right, this is the basis for nuclear reactions in fact--matter is converted to a vast amount of energy. Hmm, I should go back and look this up again...

Subject: Re: I'm an agnostic but
Date: Jan 24 00:33
Author: jroskelley

As an Atheist, I find it very easy to believe in something known as "Systems Theory".

Systems Theory suggests that everything in the universe is connected via the very fabric that is the universe. We're all made up of the same atomic and sub-atomic materials that have existed since the Big Bang. If you believe in the Big Bang Theory, then it's very hard to ignore Systems Theory. I believe that the entire history of the universe still exists in the Space-Time Continuum and that is is very possible to "tap" into what's out there in the Ether. A belief like that helps me to understand a great many things about existence and the universe.

If you want to watch a very excellent movie on the subject matter, check out Mindwalk with Liv Ullman, Sam Waterston, and John Heard. It came out around 1990 and I believe it is only available on VHS. If you'd like, I'd be very happy to loan you the movie. I agree: We are definitely not machines.

It's just my opinion (except for the factual stuff). I could be wrong.

John Roskelley

Subject: Not to be funny but...
Date: Jan 24 00:39
Author: Puffrider

What does a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac worry about at night? Weather or not there is a "dog" ! It's a classic!

Subject: Thanks, I'll check out Mindwalk
Date: Jan 24 01:01
Author: Cattle Mutilator

I met Fritjof Capra once in San Francisco and got my copy of The Turning Point autographed. I was somewhat disappointed to find out that Capra was a Gurdjieff-Ouspensky adherent, which I regard as another cult. But there is validity to some of their teachings. Nevertheless, I think that Gurdjieff was another charlatan, like our beloved Joseph Smith.

Subject: I feel much the same way CM.
Date: Jan 24 00:40
Author: TLC

I don't know what's out there beyond what I can experience with my five senses. But my sixth sense wants its due and refuses to be quieted by the insistant reasonings of my mind.

I hesitate to share this here because it's kind of personal, (like that's ever stopped me before) but I have had experiences while wide awake and stone-cold sober that make it clear there's more going on around me than just what I can reasonably understand.

Eyes wide open, daylight, looking at the clock and aware of time, fully conscious and sober, sitting in my chair and being visited by someone who I knew well but who was obviously visiting from another place that I don't know or understand at all.

I can't dismiss his visit as the short-circuiting of my brain. There was too much other conscious and reliable input happening simultaneously for it to have been a lapse. I was visited by someone I loved and lost. And I knew at the time it was happening that I would have a difficult time later accepting and/or believing it.

So I just have to live with it. I can't explain it but I'm not willing to dismiss it because I don't understand it.

My experience is, that some part of us continues - whether it's intelligence or energy or matter we don't even have the faintest clue about. I don't know what it is but something continues. It doesn't prove or disprove anything and it's not something I'd ever be willing to debate. I just know that some "part" of this man that died in my arms, came back and visited me many months after the fact.

It was the first of many similiar experiences.

It was as discomforting in many ways as it was comforting. It left me with more questions than answers. But there you have it - a reality that I have to somehow find a way to live with.

I don't trouble myself over it. I just know what I know is true for me. One thing's for sure - I'm not trying to start a religion out of this experience.

It's mine. No need to defend it or argue it.

Subject: If we ignore our personal experiences for the sake of being "scientific"
Date: Jan 24 01:07
Author: Cattle Mutilator

we are denying a part of ourselves as much as we would for the sake of some religion. I don't know what you experienced and it makes no sense to me, but I've had some weird experience too that I can't explain, so I know where you're coming from. Separating legitimate experience from delusion is not always easy.

I believe in science, but I also believe that there are things that science doesn't adequately explain.

Subject: Re: I'm an agnostic but
Date: Jan 24 01:03
Author: Wag

You asked for my input and I'm flattered that you would do so. Very simply, I believe there are a LOT of phenomena out there for which we have little understanding and little explanation.

Are there people who can heal with a touch and a word? Yeah, it actually happens. Is it the healer or god that makes the miracle occur? Or does the human mind have a capacity that, once convinced it can heal the body, proceeds to do so? Therein lies faith. Or something. We can't really explain it.

I can rub my wife's head and make her headaches go away just because I know that is what works for her. But is it god? Not a chance. I say nothing, say no prayer aloud or in my mind. I just know it heals her headaches and she does too so she asks for a head rub when she's hurting.

And then we screw like rabbits!! (Sorry, couldn't resist that!)

Seriously, I have to say that we learn more every day with science and with observation and at some time in the future, we will start to understand just how we are all connected in this world and by what "force." For now, neither religion nor science have the answers to those things and we add them to the list of questions to get to some day.

So no, I still don't believe there is a god, however, I do believe that I am open-minded enough to be willing to accept that belief in my heart and mind. But only if there is solid evidence or proof, even that he exists. (And then I'll be pissed at him but that is a different discussion altogether!)

So, really, I have to say that your question points back to another question: What exactly IS spirtuality? Does man have a spirit? Who knows? Just what is the life spark, anyway? Electricity, as some have posited? Some other form of quantum energy? We may have to accept the idea that we may never know or won't know for a LONG time to come.

We are, as you say, in control of our own actions, therefore, we are in control of our destinies and reponsible for the consequences of our actions. My boss made a salient comment this afternoon wherein he said, "Be destination oriented." The comment poses a lot of thought which distills back to the original comment. But those thoughts include the very potent idea that you should always look to the future results which your current choices will bring. Very sobering.

If your friend believes in predestination, ask him who is getting his ass out of bed every morning? I think he and others with this belief are in the camp of people who refuse to accept responsibility for their actions and behaviors.

Well, that pretty much addresses my thoughts on the question. Was that what you were looking for?!!! :-)


Subject: Thanks Wag
Date: Jan 24 01:20
Author: Cattle Mutilator

Yeah, that was my point. I don't think we should deny personal experience for the sake of being "scientific" and if you think you are a robot you probably will behave like one. Predestination is a denial of responsibility. I will not use the term "free agency" as much as I am tempted. :)

Thanks for your 2 cents. As a musician, I thought you would have a good perspective on this.

Subject: We were all born atheist,, not "trailing clouds of glory..." We had to be taught to believe.n/t

Subject: I don't really have much worthwhile to add to this, but...
Date: Jan 24 02:51
Author: JusThinkin

I've definitely and thoroughly enjoyed reading the genuinely sincere comments and well put thoughts in this string. I can so relate to many of the same feelings.

If evolution is the very striving of all life to become more adapted to success than they are in their current state, is evolution controlled by some outside creative force? I don't think so. I tend to think of 'love' itself as the universal creative force of the universe...flowing thru everything and so tying it all together. I see evolution as the result of all things 'looking for love in all the "right" places', so to speak.

I base this on no standard of proof or truth except my own feelings. I know that I never feel as good as when I feel love. I further know that a part of my feeling of love is feeling a connection to the item of adoration, whether it be a person, a rock, a sunset, a bumblebee or above all, a perfect right point break on a glassy day at San Miguel with nobody out. I've found this feeling of connection to extend to the point of actually feeling a part of the 'separate' item, thereby replacing separation with 'oneness'.

Science has taught us many things about the connection of all things composed of matter and about the constant recyling of all substance here upon the earth...and even beyond. It's also taught us much about the invisible world. The world of sub-atomic particles that are too small to observe, but that can be theorized and scientifically proved by the evidence at hand. The world of thought and psychology. New discoveries are constantly being sought and found in the seen and unseen world. Electricity and light are explored and exploited, but still have unknown qualities to them.

The very 'fact' that effective science must be fluid, changeable and forever on the lookout to exploit new data is indicative that the 'unknown' is of a quality and a quantity yet to be determined.

That being said, I've determined the 'creator' by using what I think of as an 'inner certainty' to choose that which gives me my highest high and motivates me to be my very best. I consider this to be a rational choice.

Does this mean that I have a spirit within that has determined who the creator is and wants to connect with it? I don't feel it so much to be a spirit, but it definitely is something invisible and capable of thought that is the 'real' me, much more so than my physical presence. I don't worry about it, I just enjoy it and feel secure in the knowledge that I, like all things, bask in and am surrounded by 'love'. I know that I can choose at any given moment to be 'one' with it, or I can reject it in favor of some other temporary emotion or object of my attention, but it's always there, neverending and infinite in quantity.

ooga booga has now ended and I'm hopefully gonna go to sleep without doin TooMuchThinkin.

Subject: Is science opposed to the supernatural?
Date: Jan 24 04:03
Author: DeafGuy

OK, I'm horribly biased. I have Biology and not one, but two(!) Chemistry classes. And Calculus. So if that isn't enough immersion in science, I'm not sure what would be... :-)

I get the sense here sometimes that it's like there's a rivalry between science and religion or spirituality or supernatural claims.

But it's not like that at all. Science is all about gaining knowledge. If there was a god and there was any way for us to know that fact and to know anything at all about that god, science would be right there learning about it and giving us the facts. Ditto for "spirituality", however you might define it.

Or take supernatural claims--there's no shortage of people eager to apply scientific methods and measurements to the supernatural.

But the problem is, there's nothing to measure. Nothing to test. Nothing that's repeatable or verifiable.

You have someone claiming the supernatural ability to heal. Yet, when someone comes in and tests for the existence of a disease that is then verifiably cured without your usual "natural" means, there's nothing there. (And if you have evidence otherwise, good heck, the whole world wants to know about it...).

Now, rationally, this should be enough to make people realize that there's nothing there after all, at least nothing worthy of mention. I mean, if it turns out that no verifiable healing takes place, then what's the point?

But homo sapiens aren't rational--they want to believe. So they reject the science and hang on to whatever glimmer of hope they have left. And from that arises the "conflict" between science and whatever pet claims people have.

But really, there's no conflict. Science is merely brutally honest--if you don't have the evidence to back up the claims, tough luck. But if you do have the evidence, well by golly, science is going to be all over it, measuring it, quantifying it, exploring it, testing it, taking it apart and seeing how the heck it works.

But if you don't have the evidence, science will ignore you. And frankly, in such absence, you don't have any good reason for belief yourself.

Now, there is a flip side to that--certainly in the skepticism that comes with all of this, not to mention that natural conservative nature of people, sometimes new truths are resisted. I quote from my chemistry text, something else I read tonight in a sidebar:

Atoms? Humbug! Rarely does a major new concept receive unanimous acceptance. Despite the atomic theory's impact, several major scientists denied the existence of atoms for another century. In 1877, Adolf Kolbe, an eminent organic chemist, said, "[Dalton's atoms are] more than stupid hallicunations...mere table-tapping and supernatural explanations." The influential physicist Ernst Mach believed that scientists should look at facts, not hypothetical entities such as atoms. It was not until 1908 that the famous chemist and outspoken opponent of atomism Wilhelm Ostwald wrote, "I am now convinced [by recent] experimental evidence of discrete or grained nature of matter, which the atomic hypothesis sought in vain for hundreds and thousands of years." He was referring to the discovery of the electron. (Chemistry: The Molecular Nature of Matter and Change, 3rd Ed., Silberberg)

But if you have the evidence, any real and rational reason to believe, science will back it up, sooner or later.

Even so, that doesn't imply an understanding of everything now. There's lots that even our collective knowledge still isn't sufficient to explain (but that's cool, because that means there's yet more for us and our descendants to discover!). And more to the point, in our own individual lives, we have such a limited amount of knowledge that there's tons of stuff going on around us that we don't know. How many of you reading this can explain the physics behinds the electrons that carry the motions of my fingers to words that bring meaning to your eyes?

Yet, it's all perfectly natural, explained by the laws of physics (and still, if I'd shown this to my grandmother without any prior exposure to related technology, she might have considered it to be a tool of the gods...).

And then there's just the freaky stuff, the coincidences that seem too improbably to understand. Like this one--all my life, it's seemed like I just don't get rained on. Today, for instance, I walk outside between buildings to my class, and though it's been raining, there's nothing falling on me. I enter the building, go down the hall a few yards to get a drink, and as I come back to class, my real-time transcriptionist is entering the door, and I notice that her equipment bag is splattered with raindrops--she's right behind me, and she gets rained on, but I don't. A while later, the class takes a break and I head outside. A few people are standing around under the overhangs, which are dripping from fresh rain. But it's not raining as I walk outside for a walk. It's like that all day--I don't get rained on at all, yet, throughout the day there's a regular rain keeping everything wet and dripping.

And not just today--this has always happened, so much that I'm embarrassed to admit that when I was a TBM, I thought I had the priesthood power to hold off the rain just long enough for me to get back inside.

But does anyone really think I have some ability to control the weather? I certainly don't claim such. I'm perfectly willing to attribute this and other such seeming freaks of nature to simple coincidence. After all, I do get rained on sometimes. It's just that I tend to remember the times when other people get wet and I don't--that makes it special, and because I remember that, it seems to move beyond mere coincidence into something special, even supernatural.

And that's how we fall prey to false beliefs. If you really think something special is going on--make a diary of it. Note all the times that it occurs, and more importantly, all the times that it doesn't occur. You'll naturally remember the positives, and over time that will start to overbalance your perspective. But if you have a written record to refer back to, you can verify that the positive and false hits are well within statistical probability.

For that matter, I've heard from a bunch of people who kept prayer diaries...sometimes people think their prayers are really answered, but actually, they only remember the times that something does happen, and they forget when it doesn't. By keeping a log of this, they can look back at it and be reminded of all the times their prayers didn't happen, and then it becomes clear that the "miracles" were well within the realm of statistical probability.

Funnily enough, that's exactly what my Biology class requires of me--I have a logbook in which I'm supposed to keep a detailed record of everything I do, every measurement I take, etc, even the mistakes--everything. Because when you're searching for the truth, it all matters, and you never know when some little detail might become significant, and for that matter, even a lot of "mistakes" turned out to be something that advanced our knowledge.

But the essential point is--science isn't anti-god or anti-supernatural or whatever. It's merely pro-truth, and the nature of it is that it will only consider that which we can objectively verify, and the plain fact of the matter is that supernatural and religious claims aren't verifiable.

Subject: It never rains on you,
Date: Jan 24 05:03
Author: rpm

is similar to the guy I knew who said mosquitoes didn't exist in his world. He hadn't seen one in many years, since childhood, I think, when he determined to rid his consciousness of them.

A good friend of mine sees the numerical sequence "1,2,3,4" ALL the time. In phone numbers, addresses, prices, plastic cards, etc. She thinks it is uncanny. I told her she was subconsciously creating the appearances. She thought I was nuts.

That night she told me this, we were driving past a gas station: the sign said the price of gas was $1.23 & 4/10.
We freaked out, together.

The mind is more powerful than we imagine.

Thanks for your post. I enjoyed it, as well as all the others. I posted something similar not long ago called "Holy Ghost or warm fuzzies," which provided a few details of personal experiences I have had which seem to me to be beyond rational experience.


Subject: How do you test this?
Date: Jan 25 02:31
Author: Cattle Mutilator

I often have tension headaches. When I put my hand on the part of my head that is hurting, the tension goes away. Why is it that we have an almost instinctual reaction to put our hand on the part of our body that is hurting? I suppose it could be psychosomatic and the cure is merely a placebo effect, but the fact is, it works. Has science an answer for this?

Subject: Distraction?
Date: Jan 25 04:17
Author: DeafGuy

Cattle Mutilator wrote:
> I often have tension headaches. When I put my hand on the part of my head that is hurting, the tension goes away. Why is it that we have an almost instinctual reaction to put our hand on the part of our body that is hurting? I suppose it could be psychosomatic and the cure is merely a placebo effect, but the fact is, it works. Has science an answer for this?

Answers, dunno, but I'm sure someone, somewhere has systematically studied this. :-)

However, to some extent, I can be distracted from pain. Indeed, there are frequent times when I'm doing something intensive to the point where I don't even notice an injury until later, when I spot blood running down my hand or something. And then it starts hurting.

I imagine a somewhat similar principle operates elsewhere--your brain can only focus on so much at once. For instance, if you have an unpleasant pain in one hand, pinch the other hand and the sensation of pain from the first hand will lessen. Same idea with your hand--you get your brain focused on the feeling of your hand, and that takes away focus on the pain.

Indeed, the second link on a Google search of "pain distraction" turns up this link:

Which says:

Virtual Reality and Pain Distraction

It is the aim of this study to answer the question of whether or not VR is an effective method of distracting children from the pain of venipuncture and to examine the degree of immersion required. Given previous studies of pediatric pain distraction and the initial support for VR forms of pain distraction, it is hypothesized that there will be significant differences in the pain experiences of children assigned to the three different groups. It is predicted that these differences will be detected in pain intensity, affective pain, and behavioral distress.

I daresay if you researched this topic via the web and such, you'd find all the answers to any questions you might have...

Subject: Excellent thread you got started CM.
Date: Jan 24 07:26
Author: Patty

I've been waiting to see if anyone on this board would address the issue of "aren't we more than just physical bodies?" because I think about this quite often.

You set the tone for a very intelligent, thought-provoking thread and the responses were great! It's threads like this one that keep me coming back to the board.

Thanks to all for sharing...

Subject: The ancient Greeks were pretty good at geometry.
Date: Jan 24 13:05
Author: ExMoron

To them it was an eye opener into the inner "divine" workings of the universe. It was actually a religion to them, and was somewhat ritualized. The Renaissance was a great awakening of thought and discovery. People who lived back then were quite amazed and excited by it all. To some of them, the light of discovery and truth certainly had a divine aspect to it.

In his novel "Contact," Carl Sagan played with this sort of idea. His characters were trying to solve for pi in different bases. At one point, the solution could be used to graphically describe a perfect circle. This was Sagan's fictional proof of the divine in the universe.

I'm am with you guys. Even though I'm a strong agnostic, I also feel there is something else, ineffable, out there.

Recovery from Mormonism -   

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