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Friday, January 11, 2008

Faith, Hope and Love

Each of these concepts are complicated. Love for example, is clearly related to emotions, which are chemical responses to one's surroundings. I would not love my wife had I never seen her, nor touched her skin, nor heard her words, nor smelled her perfume, nor tasted her kiss. How true.

I think we could add beauty to the list of semi-emotional concepts. Like the others, there is transient notion of beauty when you first pierce something. But then, there is a more permanent notion of beauty. We experience faith, hope, love, and beauty independent of our natural senses, don't we?

Question: Is there any reason to think that these concepts, these things that we experience without out natural senses, point to a transnatural underpinning to our natural world?

This is important to me theologically because I don't think God is hidden from people. I think everything we need to know God, is available through interaction with the natural world, even if God indicates something more than the natural world.

4 comments:

Mystical Seeker said...

Wow, you are touching on some serious philosophical questions that go back at least to Plato. :) I don't really know the answer, myself, but it is interesting to ponder.

Matt Dick said...

Question: Is there any reason to think that these concepts, these things that we experience without out natural senses, point to a transnatural underpinning to our natural world?

I don't think so. In fact I'd argue that we don't experience them without our natural senses. What evidence is there that any of it exists outside of our brain?

The only answer I've ever gotten is some "I feel it's not generated by me." but I *do* feel like it's generated by me. And additionally, there is some growing evidence that all of those feelings can be stimulated by outside forces acting on us in a very reductionist fashion. What counter argument is there?

JimII said...

The only answer I've ever gotten is some "I feel it's not generated by me." but I *do* feel like it's generated by me.

So, first I have a different intuition that you do. I think that love and beauty have aspects that are other than my own. I think, or feel, that there is a supernatural aspect to these ideas.

I have some respect for intuition. Put another way, I don't accept that my not having a logical answer means necessarily that there is not one. This position is most informed by playing chess, to tell you the truth. The game dramatically reveals the limits of ones logical thinking. I have been certain too many times only to be wrong. And, if my logic fails me on a little board game, how why should I trust it over my intuition on matters a serious as these.

Now, that's more in the way of explanation of where I'm coming from than a response to your question.

I am still considering a counter argument.

Matt Dick said...

Jim,

That there are areas of the brain that are in function when one is having a religious experience has been well understood. From pubmed in 2001:

Department of Neurology, University Hospital Düsseldorf, Germany. nazari@du.edu

The commonsense view of religious experience is that it is a preconceptual, immediate affective event. Work in philosophy and psychology, however, suggest that religious experience is an attributional cognitive phenomenon. Here the neural correlates of a religious experience are investigated using functional neuroimaging. During religious recitation, self-identified religious subjects activated a frontal-parietal circuit, composed of the dorsolateral prefrontal, dorsomedial frontal and medial parietal cortex. Prior studies indicate that these areas play a profound role in sustaining reflexive evaluation of thought. Thus, religious experience may be a cognitive process which, nonetheless, feels immediate.
-- Eur J Neurosci. 2001 Apr;13(8):1649-52


Further, Michael Persinger, Professor of Neuroscience at Laurentian University in Ontario has a lab wherein he can induce religious experience/feelings:

“Four in five people, [Persinger] said, report a "mystical experience, the
feeling that there is a sentient being or entity standing behind or
near" them. Some weep, some feel God has touched them, others become
frightened and talk of demons and evil spirits.”
-- Washington Post, 2001


This profoundly disrupts the view that there is an external force controlling the religious experience, does it not?