Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Response to Atheist Op-Ed About Miracles

Professed atheist posted an op-ed piece to the Lexington Herald-Leader today called Miracle: Just a puzzle science has not solved.

I posted the following response, to which a not-so-cleverly-disguised Richard Dawkins, himself (Hawkins? Rhymes with Dawkins? Come on, Richard, we know it was you!) posted the below rebuttals.*


Existence itself is supernatural and something that science will never be able to explain until it changes its antiquated philosophical framework. Where did the universe come from and why did it arise? What was there before it arose? Science is but a tiny sliver of Consciousness (God), which many have experienced through direct contact with reality, but which science lacks the philosophical tools to comprehend. So all this eyewitness testimony is simply ignored. A good book on the subject is The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder, which I just happen to have written.

Fellows like Dawkins live entirely in their minds, and so have never experienced reality directly. To him, science and the material world is all there is. If he could shut down that voice in his head for a minute and live life through his body (i.e. his own little slice of this reality we share) he might be quite surprised what (and some might say Who, with a capital W) he would find there.

Aaron Hawkins:
Well I feel that eyewitness testimony is not enough to prove anything. If you were to go around believing everything that people said they saw, then you would have to believe in bigfoot, werewolves, vampires, and aliens just to name a few of the things that now exist just because someone said they saw it. This is not enough evidence to base a decision on. You have to look at motives and understand reasons that people say what they say. Am I calling them liars? No, there are many explanations and maybe they did see what they said they saw, but by no means does this hold enough weight to call it proof of existence.   
As for the later part of your post that isn't plugging your book, you say that Dawkins has closed himself off to the reality that would show proof of existence. While I may agree with you that he is science based and as such leaves no credibility to superstition, mysticism, or metaphysics. You base your ideas on the same line of thought, only reversed. Perhaps if you shut the "good" book and started living in the real world you would see his views. Not that I am literally trying to get you to do so, it just shows that your argument gets us no where.


Sorry for plugging my book, but it's precisely about this issue. And I agree with you on both your points. 

As to your first point, I agree that eye witness testimony isn't enough in itself. We don't have to take anyone's word for it. Everyone has his/her own body--this is what it's there for, I'm suggesting. Shut off the voice in the head and take your awareness into your body for a few moments. Hold it there. Feel your feet, your hands and all the rest from the inside, so to speak. What does this do for you? What do you find? What is reality actually like? You can know this for yourself. It's not theoretical and doesn't seem to be particularly profound, so most people won't even bother to try it. But it holds the key, I would suggest, to a deeper understanding.

As to your second point, what I'm trying to suggest is that Dawkins view is a faith too, just as any view of reality must be, because we are inside that reality. His faith is in a neutral cause-and-effect based what-you-see-is-what-you-get reality. My personal opinion is that this view doesn't hold water because of the "first cause" problem that it has. But as you point out, my view is a faith (opinion) just as his is.

Aaron Hawkins:
I understand that meditation is a great tool (especially in psychology) for relaxation and that it is used as a religious tool for inspiration and awareness, but I'm not to sure where you are going with this response. From my understanding of meditation, the key is to clear your mind, while useful for personal growth and relaxation I fail to understand how this would bring us closer to God. Perhaps this is my own misconception on how meditation works. Prof. Nash makes the logical step towards Buddhism from your post but even there while it does lead to personal insight, the goal of Buddhist meditation is not to find God it is to work towards totally clearing your mind of any real thought (neither perception or non perception). You start by focusing on specifics, elements, ideas and thoughts but the final jahanas is the goal of this type of meditation and that is to be released from everything.  
Finally, yes both are faith based ways of thinking of the world. Obviously I see where we are going, a priori and a postiriori arguments for God, and how we know what we know. Perhaps we should also jump into how we can know the true nature of God, as all of this seems to be a recap of Hume's Dialogues on Natural Religion. I find it hard to accept the ontological argument, based on the fact that we can not know the attributes of God, the only one who truly would know those attributes would be God himself, I believe then that the only way the arguement would work would be if God was trying to prove his own existence to himself.   
I tend to side with Dawkins although I don't agree with everything he says, the difference between religious faith and faith in science is that science tends to be testable over and over again. Does this give us cause? No, but the results can be tested and we can see there is a connection over and over again.

My own view is that this exercise I have suggested is not a tool exactly. It's more of an experiment to get people to feel what direct contact with reality is. It's to get people to feel what it is "to be" as opposed to "to think" and "to do," with the end result of getting people to understand that this is where we need to park ourselves, so to speak, all the time, using thinking and doing as tools, then reverting back to "being" when the tools have performed their functions. (What you have suggested the exercise is about, and how most people live I think, is the opposite of this at best and perhaps most don't live in their bodies at all.)

How might this bring us closer to God? As Jung said, "God is reality." And as Paul said, "In him we live, move and have our being," a (p)restatement that God is reality.All the other--Hume and so forth--is rationality about the nature of reality (or God, as you prefer), while the exercise is meant to put one in direct contact with reality, the ultimate testability. It's an exhortation to get out of the head and into the body, our own individual slice of reality.

Photo credit:

*[Disclaimer: Come to find out, Aaron Hawkins is a real person who lives in Georgetown, Kentucky. Go figure!]

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