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Godsnmbr1

A question for all skeptics

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Mr Walker

Of course we can and do regularly create visual images in our minds. I don't, however, think that this is how we think. I very definitely do not think we have to have language to think either -- this comes from knowing several, and I "think" in none of them. My thinking is done some other way and then, if I want to express my thoughts, I subconsciously put them into whatever language I want. The assignment of words is one of the last things that happens.

As above not everyone can create a visual image in their mind . And because i think exclusively in words, i tend to accept the scientific hypothesis that language is tied to the evolution of human level thought.

Frank, do you not have at least one continuous verbal "stream of consciousness" verbally occuring in your mind all the time you are awake?

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Frank Merton

As above not everyone can create a visual image in their mind . And because i think exclusively in words, i tend to accept the scientific hypothesis that language is tied to the evolution of human level thought.

Frank, do you not have at least one continuous verbal "stream of consciousness" verbally occurring in your mind all the time you are awake?

When I sit (meditate) I often am mindful of the stream of consciousness, and it is not verbal. Ideas and feelings well up, sensations distract, memories all impose. It is a loosely connected process, somewhat self-driving and it seems somewhat driven by external happenings. There is no talking involved (or I could frame it into words if I wanted, but that would be wasteful unless I need the words to utter them).

Of course this mindfulness is really nothing more than "watching" short-term memory's record of where the mind was a few moments ago.

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Drayno

If a voice appeared in my head and claimed to be God, I'd ask 'him' several semi-serious questions out of curiosity.

1. Is Justin Bieber supposed to be a joke? Because as entertaining as she is, she was never that funny.

2. If the universe is as we believe it is, where and when did other sentient life forms exist - if any?

3. Why do they keep on making complicated story-lines for Marvel and DC comic books?

The question I'd ask God to prove himself would be simple:

What day will Stephen Hawking die?

If answered, I'd wait until that date.

If spot on, I'd be a believer.

Edited by Hatake Kakashi

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ambelamba

I just can't imagine myself thinking purely in words and languages, unless I try hard to visualize every single letter. My reaction to MW's thinking process was a pure 'WTF?!'. Everything in my head is pretty much made of sounds and images.

If a voice appeared in my head and claimed to be God, I'd ask 'him' several semi-serious questions out of curiosity.

1. Is Justin Bieber supposed to be a joke? Because as entertaining as she is, she was never that funny.

2. If the universe is as we believe it is, where and when did other sentient life forms exist - if any?

3. Why do they keep on making complicated story-lines for Marvel and DC comic books?

The question I'd ask God to prove himself would be simple:

What day will Stephen Hawking die?

If answered, I'd wait until that date.

If spot on, I'd be a believer.

Is your avatar that guy from Bleach, the pure embodiment of bluffing?

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Drayno

I just can't imagine myself thinking purely in words and languages, unless I try hard to visualize every single letter. My reaction to MW's thinking process was a pure 'WTF?!'. Everything in my head is pretty much made of sounds and images.

Is your avatar that guy from Bleach, the pure embodiment of bluffing?

It's actually Hatake Kakashi from Naruto, passed out. :D

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Frank Merton

I always thought I would ask for good stock investments and then wait to see if they panned out or not.

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Drayno

I always thought I would ask for good stock investments and then wait to see if they panned out or not.

That's a bit of a gamble.

It might be worth it in the long run, though. ;)

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Frank Merton

That's a bit of a gamble.

It might be worth it in the long run, though. ;)

I figure the best explanation for hearing voices is the subconscious talking to the conscious (figuratively), so if the investments panned out I could conclude that I had it all worked out in my subconscious even though not in my conscious. For it to be persuasive evidence of anything else would require that it recommended stocks that I had not studied or even was not aware of.

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ellapenella

If one day you woke up with another voice in your head, and this voice claimed to be God, what would you ask this voice to do in order to prove such a claim?

Edit: I just saw what my picture quote was still set to, but let me assure you--I donot hear voices. Just a coincidence.

Do you think Joan of Arc had a condition ? like mental illness? Or were there signs that came true in the things she claimed to have heard? Also, did the church have anything to do with her execution? if so , why ?

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Frank Merton

A similar question is what are we to make of Socrates' voices. I don't think anyone dare question his sanity. My opinion is that they served to him as a rhetorical device in line with cultural expectations of such a man and were talked about with a nod and a wink, but that is just something I throw out.

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Drayno

A similar question is what are we to make of Socrates' voices. I don't think anyone dare question his sanity. My opinion is that they served to him as a rhetorical device in line with cultural expectations of such a man and were talked about with a nod and a wink, but that is just something I throw out.

All that was questioned was his supposed Atheism and corruption of Athens youth, which led to a verdict of death by hemlock.

;)

I see your line of thought, though.

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Rlyeh

No my dreams are both completely realistic and also totally lucid. I "LIVE' my dream the same way i live my life, by making choices which control the content and results of the dreamscape, but i can also manipulate and creatively enhance a dream scape more than i can mundane waking life.It is jus tthat i cannot conjure up even the image of a square or a circle in my waking conscious mind i do not "see " images in my mind while awake, at all.

Unless you are blind I find this difficult to believe.

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eight bits

Riyeh

What Mr Walker reports is familiar and plausible among sighted people. Can you reproduce a smell in your mind? Some people can, others not, of those who can, there is a range of performance. Can you feel dizzy by summoning either the experience of disequilibrium or of visual voritcity?

Mr Walker

The issue of "forming" an image in the mind is one aspect of thinking visually. The common and still interesting case is to reason from an actual image, like a diagram or model.

Example There is a thread here on UM about the "Monty Hall Problem." My first encounter with that was somebody telling me the story in words. The story is just complicated enough to swamp short term memory, and I got the problem wrong. I grabbed pencil and paper and requested to be told the story again. I diagrammed the situation as the person spoke. The diagram would still have swamped short term memory, just as the words had done, but with the concrete image, I immediately saw the solution. I reasoned visually, without the need to form a consciously apprehensible image in my head.

I suspect both you and your typical student can do that. Of course, I accept that you could train yourself to develop other ways of thinking instead of visual. I was an eiditiker in early childhood, and learned my way out of that (as almost all eidetikers do - it sounds great, but it's actually limiting) - I'll spot you your training, then.

Closer to topic, the plot of Close Encounters of the Third Kind has the still-undetected aliens summon a few humans to join them at their landing site. Information about the rendezvous is communicated to the humans using a variety of mental modalities, including visually and muscially (and they use physical lights and music when they arrive - hey, it's the movies). In one case, the aliens guide the human in creating a concrete image, not just impart a mental one.

Reann

Do you think Joan of Arc had a condition ? like mental illness? Or were there signs that came true in the things she claimed to have heard? Also, did the church have anything to do with her execution? if so , why ?

Yes, we all have "a condition," but hers is an interesting example of how difficult the diagnosis of mental illness can be, or for that matter to apply Jesus' or the Buddha's "test by fruits." Her voices were the vehicle of something extraordinary, but they got her killed.

The English church was the means of her execution. In reality, however, she was a prize of war, her king declined to ransom her, and so, one way or the other, she was toast. In fairness, it was she, not the English, who had raised the Gott mit uns issue regarding her career, that there was heavenly interest in the secular squabble between England and France. That does not, in my view, justify what was done to her, but it does contribute to the complexity of her case.

Frank brings up another complicated case, Socrates', whose voices were both his distinction and what got him killed. It is regrettable that we know so much less about Socrates than Jeanne - whatever else the church did, it preserved her description of her experience.

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emberdawn

FYI God is a member of this forum. One's self has not posted. Haven't tried to send a message. Has anyone else?

I guess I would ask God to show me what things God has created that God likes the best.

Or

Perhaps there might be room for one more on the Tardis? But which Doctor would I pick?

Edited by emberdawn

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Tiggs

I just googled this and apparently about 25% of people think exclusively in verbal terms. I do not know if this means they CANNOT see visual images or not.

Confirming that I am also unable to visualize, except during sleep.

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Rlyeh

Riyeh

What Mr Walker reports is familiar and plausible among sighted people. Can you reproduce a smell in your mind? Some people can, others not, of those who can, there is a range of performance. Can you feel dizzy by summoning either the experience of disequilibrium or of visual voritcity?

To a degree.

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Sherapy

Riyeh

What Mr Walker reports is familiar and plausible among sighted people. Can you reproduce a smell in your mind? Some people can, others not, of those who can, there is a range of performance. Can you feel dizzy by summoning either the experience of disequilibrium or of visual voritcity?

Mr Walker

The issue of "forming" an image in the mind is one aspect of thinking visually. The common and still interesting case is to reason from an actual image, like a diagram or model.

Example There is a thread here on UM about the "Monty Hall Problem." My first encounter with that was somebody telling me the story in words. The story is just complicated enough to swamp short term memory, and I got the problem wrong. I grabbed pencil and paper and requested to be told the story again. I diagrammed the situation as the person spoke. The diagram would still have swamped short term memory, just as the words had done, but with the concrete image, I immediately saw the solution. I reasoned visually, without the need to form a consciously apprehensible image in my head.

I suspect both you and your typical student can do that. Of course, I accept that you could train yourself to develop other ways of thinking instead of visual. I was an eiditiker in early childhood, and learned my way out of that (as almost all eidetikers do - it sounds great, but it's actually limiting) - I'll spot you your training, then.

Closer to topic, the plot of Close Encounters of the Third Kind has the still-undetected aliens summon a few humans to join them at their landing site. Information about the rendezvous is communicated to the humans using a variety of mental modalities, including visually and muscially (and they use physical lights and music when they arrive - hey, it's the movies). In one case, the aliens guide the human in creating a concrete image, not just impart a mental one.

Reann

Yes, we all have "a condition," but hers is an interesting example of how difficult the diagnosis of mental illness can be, or for that matter to apply Jesus' or the Buddha's "test by fruits." Her voices were the vehicle of something extraordinary, but they got her killed.

The English church was the means of her execution. In reality, however, she was a prize of war, her king declined to ransom her, and so, one way or the other, she was toast. In fairness, it was she, not the English, who had raised the Gott mit uns issue regarding her career, that there was heavenly interest in the secular squabble between England and France. That does not, in my view, justify what was done to her, but it does contribute to the complexity of her case.

Frank brings up another complicated case, Socrates', whose voices were both his distinction and what got him killed. It is regrettable that we know so much less about Socrates than Jeanne - whatever else the church did, it preserved her description of her experience.

My son and I are learning Spanish right now and most of my work is done visually in my head with pictures.For ex: Igualmente which means, likewise-- I remember it by seeing an eagle flying in my head. I can learn a list of Spanish words in one occasionally two sittings by using pictures in my head. I can see the diagrams of verb conjugations inside my head. I can see the clock as a diagram to remember the time in Spanish. Yet if it comes to watching someone do something, then I have to do it, I am completely lost, I almost feel retarded. So you make a good point Eighty, we can be lost one way but not another. My son is totally opposite he is very hands on (kinesthetic) and like MW he thinks in words, so he can what seems like, instantly to me, grasp ideas off text. Where I almost always need pictures or diagrams in my head. I also learn by listening, my husband was trying to teach me how to shoot baskets and I couldn't get it at all, he would show me- I'd try and miss-this went on for a good half hour-- I was practically in tears-- and his patience was strained, so I asked him to explain to me what to do and then I was able to make a few baskets.LOL Funny you mention you are hopeful one could learn to overcome limits. I have always wanted to learn to ballroom dance and this is a watch and do type of thing-- UGH! But a good friend of mine(educational psychologist) suggested a strategy to try, so I'll let you know if it's possible. I am not hopeful. lol

Edited by Sherapy
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Frank Merton

Confirming that I am also unable to visualize, except during sleep.

Interesting; thanks for doing the leg work. I surprise myself how in this case I had just assumed everyone thinks the way I do, but I think the poll takers had it wrong too. I feel it is possible to think without putting things into words, and that verbalizing is just a habit, and perhaps not a good one. I don't think in either images nor in words -- the best way I can describe it is that I think in thoughts. I sometimes have images come up and sometimes words, but in both cases this is wasteful of time and energy, unless I have some reason for them.
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AtlantisRises

I generally think in terms of words. Almost an internal monologue, occaisionally a dialogue though the interruptions and disagreements annoy me. It is rare indeed that I will really think visually. To be honest I'm not sure how someone would really think without language as a means. Certainly there is no real words to describe a purely emotional reaction but in most other cases I had assumed that language was abig part of how everyone thinks. I guess this is one of those occaisions where I am wrong.

Amazing how rare I used to think those occaisions were.

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eight bits

Sheri

Encountering the differences among people in the way they think and learn, and learn different things, can be one of the joys of teaching. It's also part of the difficulty, since the teacher has to stretch.

Good luck with ballroom dancing and the Spanish, too. Learning about learning is good :).

All

Tiggs and I went back and forth a bit about math-y feats, ending up (I realized late) at what I call the "Bart Ehrman Problem." Ehrman is the famous New Testament critic, and he says from time to time that a miracle is always the least likely explanation of anything that happens.

Ehrman is not a probability theorist, and he took some flack from other non-probability theorists that he was "confusing" the probability of God intervening before the miracle was seen with the probability that God had intervened after you've seen the wondrous thing. Bart didn't defend himself very well, but no, he didn't confuse anything.

The best that any piece of evidence can say on behalf of a hypothesis is that if the hypothesis is true, then the evidence is exactly what you would expect to see. This has consequences:

Proposition 1. For everything whatsoever that ever happens, miracle or not, what happened is exactly what you'd expect to see if "God did it" were true.

No explanation, then, is ever better supported by any evidence than "God did it."

Proposition 2. (Assumption) For everything whatsoever that ever happens, miracle or not, there is a hypothesis which doesn't refer to God, and if it's true, what happened is exactly expected.

So what happens when two or more hypotheses tie at the best they can be?

- They gain in credibility relative to any other hypothesis less well supported than they are

- They have the same credibility relative to each other that they had before the evidence was seen.

Example (Tiggs) I flip a coin 100 times, and it always comes up heads. Hypotheses:

A. God did it, a perfect explanation

B. It is a trick coin and I don't know it, a perfect explanation

C. It is a good coin, a lousy explanation

Before I saw the evidence, I thought C was more likely than B, and B was more likely than A, by a lot.

C > B > A

Now that I see the evidence, A and B gain a lot relative to C, but stay the same with each other:

B > A > C

Conclude: "God did it" never wins by the force of evidence. It can only gain relative to hypotheses which disfavor what happened.

To paraphrase Ehrman. however unlikely it is that I could repeatedly use a trick coin and not know it, unless I already think "God did it" is more likely than that, flipping a coin will not change my mind.

This is a problem for solving the OP's implicit challenge.

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Frank Merton

I appreciate the analysis, but nevertheless think Ehrman is right -- and from that conclude that if a text contains stories of miracles and supernatural happenings and stories of gods, that the entire narrative is not valid as a historical source, even though it may contain historical accuracies, the text is not dependable, and one has no good way to separate any real history might or might not contain from the myths, any more than one would today depend on a Superman comic book.

If heads are tossed a hundred times consecutively, the thesis that God did it clearly takes second place to there being some trick going on. That is just common sense. The odds against it being a chance happening are so large that we can rule that out, but that does not make it less likely than it being a miracle. There are good theological reasons for figuring God would not be involved in such a thing (that in fact is I think the biggest problem with all miracle claims -- they trivialize and anthropormophize God.

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eight bits

Frank

Ehrman, of course, has many views. Some I agree with, some not so much. This particular point, however, is independent of other positions of his, and especially independent of whether the supernatural events are written about in some sacred test (Ehrman's area of expertise) or sensed by a person in their own head (the OP).

they trivialize and anthropormophize God.

The example is from Tiggs, and is consistent with Tiggs' posts for years. Tiggs has a well-argued expectarion that a God would be willing to intervene in history, and speaking to a living human (the OP situation) is already an intervention in history. Personally, I imagine any intervention in history would antropomorphize God, and all our concerns would be trivial compared with any concern of his, whether our request is tossing coins or settling the Syrian civil war today.

In any case, the reconciliation of

The odds against it being a chance happening are so large that we can rule that out, ...

with

... but that does not make it less likely than it being a miracle.

can only be done if we had already ruled out miracles before we saw the evidence. That is a fine position for you to adopt. If you do, then what Ehrman said is trivially correct: "God did it" is the least likely explanation both before and after seeing any evidence.

That is not, however, the interesting case of Ehrman's argument, and I was commenting on his argument as it was criticized by others. In debate, his opponents will typically concede that if you rule out miracles, then you will never think anything is a miracle. Ehrman's trying, then, to look at what happens if you don't rule them out, but do think that the point is that they are rare.

Edited by eight bits
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Frank Merton

Yes, that is the point -- I do rule out miracles, and conclude whenever I am presented with one that there is an alternative explanation. In point of fact there always is an obvious alternative that the believers try to ignore.

Why do I rule out miracles? Well, first of all, it is a contradiction with the working of the universe. That is the definition of a miracle, but there can be no such thing. The universe is what it is and if it contains gods that change the rules arbitrarily, then they and their manipulations are also part of the universe, subject to its rules.

Second, miracles, used as a basis for faith or belief, are inconsistent with what they supposedly do. Fraud of some sort (not always deliberate but usually) is always a possible alternative. An infinite God can do better than that and would not stoop to such tricks. This just is so obvious that people who deny it have got to be somehow under control, probably by indoctrination.

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Leonardo

Yes, that is the point -- I do rule out miracles, and conclude whenever I am presented with one that there is an alternative explanation. In point of fact there always is an obvious alternative that the believers try to ignore.

If we assume the natural evolution of the universe is God's design, and miracles are events 'outside' that natural evolution, then we should view miracles as necessary 'corrections' to restore that design to the course God laid out for it. This indicates we may determine something about the nature of God according to whether miracles occur, or not - particularly in the case of those religions (i.e. Christianity) where faith is said to be the basis of true belief.

If miracles don't occur, then everything that happens is according to the universe's natural evolution (i.e. 'miracles' are not necessary because God designed the universe knowing all that would occur) and, if God exists, God may be as described in various scriptures, omipotent, omniscient and perfect. If miracles do occur, however, that suggests God is none of those things, else 'corrections' would not be required*. Or, it may indicate God is not the 'creator' and the universe is not God's 'design'.

Either way, if miracles happen as some religions suggest, then the God they worship cannot be as those religions describe. They can have an unlimited, perfect God and no miracles, or miracles and a limited, imperfect God.

*I understand the argument which may be put to this - that these 'corrections' are because we disrupt God's design due to our free-will. This argument does require God to limit itself, however, and create an imperfect, or incomplete, 'design'. But this raises the questions of whether an unlimited and perfect being can limit itself and create something imperfect. I do not believe those questions can be answered in the affirmative.

Edited by Leonardo

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Mr Walker

When I sit (meditate) I often am mindful of the stream of consciousness, and it is not verbal. Ideas and feelings well up, sensations distract, memories all impose. It is a loosely connected process, somewhat self-driving and it seems somewhat driven by external happenings. There is no talking involved (or I could frame it into words if I wanted, but that would be wasteful unless I need the words to utter them).

Of course this mindfulness is really nothing more than "watching" short-term memory's record of where the mind was a few moments ago.

I cant comprehend this so i have to try and accept it on faith. I do find the concept fascinating, if incredible. Feelings in humans are an intellectual concept (generally learned and taught from birth) They are attached to words/labels to identify them. All human ideas emotions etc are verbally based. In fact i would argue one cannot "think" without using a verbal language Otherwise one is limited to the type of" thinking" used by animals lacking awarenessof self and all that goes with this.

What do you think in/with, if not word based constructs, and if you see an image, how do you know what it is, without a linguistic/label attached to it?

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