Thursday, January 31, 2008

"If You Had Experienced It, You'd Believe Too" Nonsense

Mormons say that once you experience the Spirit testify to you that something is true, it is pretty hard to convince yourself that you did not feel the Spirit. I felt what I used to call the Spirit many times, I now feel forced by the evidence to have to think differently about those powerful experiences. I now believe that those experiences are produced entirely by the biological brain.

When I was nine, I had an experience that I interpreted as being visited by an angel. I no longer interpret it that way. When I was 14 years old, my mother passed away. On the day of my marriage in the temple, I believed I felt her presence there. I now believe that that experience was entirely produced by my brain.

Experiences are always vulnerable to reinterpretation when we adopt a new perspective. So, the argument that "if you had only experienced what I have experienced, then you'd believe" does not have any validity for me.


Jonathan Blake said...

And shows that such experiences don't have an unmistakable message. They are just experiences which we interpret each in our own way. That's why the Sin against the Holy Ghost business makes no sense to me. If we can misinterpret the messages that God allegedly sends to us, how can we be held accountable if God doesn't get his point across properly?

fallingaway said...

People are able to convince themselves to think a certain way or to believe something is what it is not because they want to make themselves believe it (that was a confusing sentence...sorry). But what I'm saying is that I understand what you mean. It would be convenient for me to say that I was 'prompted' to drive home a certain way and therefore missed getting into a bad accident because the spirit told me. Or maybe it was just because I felt like going home a different way. Of course, the first explanation sounds much better in fast and testimony meeting... anyway, I could tell the story either way depending on what I was feeling at the time, or who I was talking to. Meanings change, too, and feelings change.

Latterday Skeptic said...

Belief first is the requirement. Then, once you "believe", you simply apply each and every circumstance to God's presence, influence, and communication in your life.

Two people can experience something similar and come to 2 very different conclusions.

It sounds to me as if you accept that "spiritual experiences" (awe, elevation, etc...) happen, you just debate the cause of them. I believe most believers don't dispute that there is a physical reaction that occurs in some way. They just assign causation differently.

Ultimately, the argument expressed in the title is simply a non sequitur.

Latterday Skeptic said...

Actually, I should have said "origin" for cause/causation. Well, I think you know what I mean.

As always, a good post.