Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ask me questions

Ask me a question anonymously.  Ask about me, my opinions, physics, whatever.  Let's see what happens.

I will probably delete the Q&A page once I'm bored with it.  In the mean time, I'll leave a widget on the sidebar.


Jaden said...

My comment wouldn't fit on the Formspring, so I'll just ask it here!

What kind(s) of evidence do you think one needs to be rationally justified in believing in God?

Is there room in your worldview for justified religious beliefs that don't rely on evidence? Is one justified in believing something only if she has good evidence for her beliefs?

If (hypothetically) you were to become religious or spiritual, what kinds of things would have convinced you? Hard evidence, philosophical arguments, perceptual experience of God?


miller said...

There's concrete evidence, and there are philosophical arguments. It's sort of like experimental vs theoretical support. Preferably, we'd have both, but sometimes you have to do with just one.

Philosophical arguments, I feel, are closer to persuading me, but in a "so close yet so far" sort of way. A successful deductive argument would prove God 100%, but a failed one has precisely zero effectiveness. Not all philosophical arguments are deductive, but many of them have the same all-or-nothing quality.

So realistically, empirical evidence would be the way to go. Have you ever read The Golden Compass? To be honest, I don't recommend it. But in the books, there is a kind of particle everywhere, but it especially gathers around sentient beings and objects they have affected. Furthermore, if you have the right device, you can see it or communicate with it. The collection of particles will answer any question truthfully. If something like Dust existed, that would persuade me. It would also be really awesome.

I consider perceptual evidence to be in the same category as hard evidence. I think people often separate them into two categories because they want to subject perceptual experiences to a lower standard of evidence.

miller said...

Clarification: the particle in the Golden Compass is called Dust. Man, I hope I didn't spoil anything.

I probably would have written a much shorter answer if you had submitted to formspring! :)

Jeffrey Ellis said...

This is such a cool idea I might have to steal it.

Jaden said...

Thanks for the response!

No, I haven't read it, but that sounds interesting. I'll have to pick it up some time (or at least watch the movie!).

I'm particularly interested in your opinion of religious experience. When I consider whether I think religious experience is veridical or not, it seems like it could go both ways. The cross-cultural occurrence of religious experience (here, I mean religious experience in a kind of mystical sense - not in the visionary sense where one sees a celestial Buddha or majestic purple-robed Jesus!) is very intriguing.

I'm guessing that you think that these experiences are better explained by something strange going on in the human brain rather than direct experience with the divine. But I dunno. How do you understand cross-cultural religious experience? Will it eventually be explained (is it already?) and if so, will a reductive explanation falsify the hypothesis that the object of these experiences is some kind of divine mind?

If you don't want to respond to this long comment, it's fine, I'm sure we can find time to talk. Let me know.

P.S. These questions aren't meant to be challenging or facetious! Haha. I'm just wondering.

miller said...

Oh, no, no, don't watch the movie. It sucked.

I don't think there is much to explain. Why do all people, across cultures, experience nightly comas, often with nonsensical hallucinations? Now that's the real mystery. Does a neurological explanation falsify the existence of the dream realm? Not really, no.