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Is belief in the supernatural a defense mechanism?

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  • Is belief in the supernatural a defense mechanism?

    In this world of ours man is the only animal who has a longing for the heavenly realm, metaphorically speaking, of meaning and eternity. The platonic concepts - if they are not real - are at least real in the sense that man has not become an adult until he realises that he is going to die - and death is the end of meaning, of hope and of love. All those things man values most must come to an end - and thus mans' innermost cravings can never be fulfilled within a naturalistic worldview.

    Am I the only one who has a hard time trusting my own experiences of the supernatural? I am afraid I might be fooling myself which is something I don't want to do. I'd rather be given the cold hard steel of reality than the flowery meadow of fantasy...

  • #2
    Originally posted by Carl Jung View Post
    In this world of ours man is the only animal who has a longing for the heavenly realm, metaphorically speaking, of meaning and eternity. The platonic concepts - if they are not real - are at least real in the sense that man has not become an adult until he realises that he is going to die - and death is the end of meaning, of hope and of love. All those things man values most must come to an end - and thus mans' innermost cravings can never be fulfilled within a naturalistic worldview.

    Am I the only one who has a hard time trusting my own experiences of the supernatural? I am afraid I might be fooling myself which is something I don't want to do. I'd rather be given the cold hard steel of reality than the flowery meadow of fantasy...
    What's more abstract, unnatural, and suspicious: Your innate intuitions of meaning, shared by every normal human being, or the analytical story you create and tell yourself, and the consequent anxiety about the possibility of being cheating yourself? What's more real: Your own first-person transcendent experiences or the abstract questions you raise about them after the fact?
    Last edited by Bernardo; March 8th, 2012, 03:54 PM.

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    • #3
      Wanting something to be true doesn't mean it must be false. You should trust your gut (and I should listen to my own advice).

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Bernardo View Post
        What's more abstract, unnatural, and suspicious: Your innate intuitions of meaning, shared by every normal human being, or the analytical story you create and tell yourself, and the consequent anxiety about the possibility of being cheating yourself? What's more real: Your own first-person transcendent experiences or the abstract questions you raise about them after the fact?
        Yes, you are correct - but it is very hard for me, having had such a hardline naturalistic upbringing.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Kamarling View Post
          Wanting something to be true doesn't mean it must be false. You should trust your gut (and I should listen to my own advice).
          Thanks...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Carl Jung View Post
            In this world of ours man is the only animal who has a longing for the heavenly realm, metaphorically speaking, of meaning and eternity. The platonic concepts - if they are not real - are at least real in the sense that man has not become an adult until he realises that he is going to die - and death is the end of meaning, of hope and of love. All those things man values most must come to an end - and thus mans' innermost cravings can never be fulfilled within a naturalistic worldview.

            Am I the only one who has a hard time trusting my own experiences of the supernatural? I am afraid I might be fooling myself which is something I don't want to do. I'd rather be given the cold hard steel of reality than the flowery meadow of fantasy...
            I question everything too actually; deeply and with acute discernment.

            But I dont see why this has anything to do with an infantile mentality or shirking a basic truth when for starters the basic truth is physically we do die; that we can all happily on lugubriously agree upon. We will not be who we are here, now, forever, or in entirely the same set up forever.

            I believe there is more to this than meets the eye, but remain a little unsure if it irrefutably proves consciousness survives death. I think Buddhist cultures face death with a far healthier, more open attitude than we do here in western culture. The fact of impermanence and therefore in turn the sanctity and preciousness of life (all life) saturates their thinking.

            Worst case scenario - well, I'm not going to waste the entire rest of my life being down in the dumps if I find out its all utter fabrication. I would still honour those things of beauty and the better nobler aspects of humanity. Whether we flowered for a second or a thousand years, are you only going to measure meaning in terms of longevity?

            If one believes in the soul, surely that must rejoin the whole at some distant juncture and therefore become extinguished as a separate entity anyway? Even the idea of being on an endless cycle of samsara doesnt exactly makes any more sense to me - just going round and round, exhausting good/bad karma. I dont know what consoles me exactly, except perhaps the glorious full moon this eve.....

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Lizzie S View Post
              I dont know what consoles me exactly, except perhaps the glorious full moon this eve.....
              Lizzie, you said it all. ME TOO! I'll be singing like the coyotes tonight under a beautiful, mesmerizing, full moon.

              This is what it's all about, this is one of the main reasons we're here: LIVE life, experience it, soak it up!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Lizzie S View Post
                I question everything too actually; deeply and with acute discernment.

                But I dont see why this has anything to do with an infantile mentality or shirking a basic truth when for starters the basic truth is physically we do die; that we can all happily on lugubriously agree upon. We will not be who we are here, now, forever, or in entirely the same set up forever.

                I believe there is more to this than meets the eye, but remain a little unsure if it irrefutably proves consciousness survives death. I think Buddhist cultures face death with a far healthier, more open attitude than we do here in western culture. The fact of impermanence and therefore in turn the sanctity and preciousness of life (all life) saturates their thinking.

                Worst case scenario - well, I'm not going to waste the entire rest of my life being down in the dumps if I find out its all utter fabrication. I would still honour those things of beauty and the better nobler aspects of humanity. Whether we flowered for a second or a thousand years, are you only going to measure meaning in terms of longevity?

                If one believes in the soul, surely that must rejoin the whole at some distant juncture and therefore become extinguished as a separate entity anyway? Even the idea of being on an endless cycle of samsara doesnt exactly makes any more sense to me - just going round and round, exhausting good/bad karma. I dont know what consoles me exactly, except perhaps the glorious full moon this eve.....
                Alas, the moon outside my window is not as glorious - and perhaps that is the reason the moon within my heart does not glow as strongly tonight.

                But yes, I think you are right - the nobler aspects, that I cherish and hold dear - mean more to me than the longevity. Still, within the naturalistic worldview, even the hope of finite meaning is futile.

                I am not as afraid of having a finite life as of having had a travesty of a life where meaning does not exist at all.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wendybird View Post
                  Lizzie, you said it all. ME TOO! I'll be singing like the coyotes tonight under a beautiful, mesmerizing, full moon.

                  This is what it's all about, this is one of the main reasons we're here: LIVE life, experience it, soak it up!
                  Wendy, we must be sisters in this respect then - the moon governs so much in me, both artistically and in some odd revitalising sense. I will have to stifle my howls though!!

                  I take photos of it too.....

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Carl Jung View Post
                    Alas, the moon outside my window is not as glorious - and perhaps that is the reason the moon within my heart does not glow as strongly tonight.

                    But yes, I think you are right - the nobler aspects, that I cherish and hold dear - mean more to me than the longevity. Still, within the naturalistic worldview, even the hope of finite meaning is futile.

                    I am not as afraid of having a finite life as of having had a travesty of a life where meaning does not exist at all.
                    Your last paragraph echoes how I feel about my life too. But don't you think the magic of meaning is that it exists the minute we make it so in our lives - sounds trite but is ultimately true.

                    I would add that I've found it hard in a sense because having experienced a miraculous healing where so many well meaning people channelled it's significance through their own belief system (i.e. its "karmic", or you are "meant" to be a healer yourself - Saint Bernadette the second, I kid you not!) then as you get older, and take more than a few of life's random or perhaps not so random knocks, and like Tom Hanks in Castaway feel slightly adrift in the nonsensical, you have to start to appraise the experience as meaningful in its own right rather than having meaning because it has to progress from a to b; because something greater must surely flourish out of it. Very powerful and often completely erroneous messages are implanted into us at childhood. It seems we often spend the rest of our lives attempting to undo the knots created thus.

                    It's this notion of progression or resolution to events that we keep getting caught on in life because life, being particularly cussed, never gives us the formulaic answers we expect based on our narrow perceptions. Which is good because it keeps us on our toes....

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                    • #11
                      Contemplating one's own annihilation is impossible. Consciousness cannot visualise non-consciousness, so we are left with hypotheses about what it feels like not to feel - an intellectual dead end (sic). Belief is a natural state, it's what motivates our everyday actions, compared to which scientistic skepticism is an abstraction.

                      At the core of skepticism is a lack of trust in human responses, and in its political incarnation, a calculated and organised dissemination of that mistrust. Taken to its conclusion we can trust nothing, certainly not a rapidly unraveling consensus reality, so instinct is the best we can hope for. What we're debating are vying sets of instinct, not rationality or irrationality.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by gabriel
                        At the core of skepticism is a lack of trust in human responses, and in its political incarnation, a calculated and organised dissemination of that mistrust. Taken to its conclusion we can trust nothing, ...
                        You just made up that conclusion. Of course we can trust things; I do it all the time.

                        At the core of believerism is a complete trust in human responses, and in its political incarnation, a calculated and organized dissemination of belief in every whacky thing that people think up.

                        That sounds pretty silly, too.

                        ~~ Paul

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                        • #13
                          I went through a period in my twenties when I felt extremely suicidal – this lasted almost a full year. At the time I would have considered myself an atheist, and the idea of falling into nothingness felt extremely comforting to me. The main thing that kept me killing myself was the niggling feeling that I might be wrong - what if there was some type of afterlife? Maybe there was reincarnation and I'd have to live my miserable life all over again. I would have put these possibilities at less than 1%, but that still felt like too much of a risk for me.

                          What I'm saying here is that the belief that there is nothing supernatural can be highly comforting while belief in the supernatural can be terrifying. Maybe it is really the atheist and materialist who are deluding themselves in their attempt to feel better about things.
                          Last edited by happyknownothing; March 8th, 2012, 09:33 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
                            You just made up that conclusion. Of course we can trust things; I do it all the time.

                            At the core of believerism is a complete trust in human responses, and in its political incarnation, a calculated and organized dissemination of belief in every whacky thing that people think up.

                            That sounds pretty silly, too.

                            ~~ Paul
                            There's no such thing as believerism. Belief encompasses what we think we want for our breakfast to the virgin birth. The most mundane to exotic predispositions about the universe encompass belief. That universe is revealing itself to be a very strange place indeed and to privilege nuts and bolts interpretations over others, is itself a belief. It suggests there are some manifestations of reality that are reliable for unreliable observers. That doesn't make sense because it draws the line of perception arbitrarily.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bernardo View Post
                              What's more abstract, unnatural, and suspicious: Your innate intuitions of meaning, shared by every normal human being, or the analytical story you create and tell yourself, and the consequent anxiety about the possibility of being cheating yourself? What's more real: Your own first-person transcendent experiences or the abstract questions you raise about them after the fact?
                              Nicely said, Bernardo. And it reminds of a simple principle I've come to trust (though many will find it outrageous): In the largest scheme of things, the more beautiful an idea is, the more likely it is to be true.

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