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December 20, 2005 8:19 AM   Subscribe

85% of Americans are going to heaven.
posted by The Jesse Helms (188 comments total)

 
How the hell do 51% of people without a religion believe in heaven?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:21 AM on December 20, 2005


Just because you don't have a specific religion doesn't mean you can't believe in heaven.

Why didn't they show the percentages of people who believe that heaven is "limited to Christians?"
posted by SassHat at 8:25 AM on December 20, 2005


This just in: 94% of self-reporting religious Americans don't understand the tenets of their own religions.
posted by psmealey at 8:26 AM on December 20, 2005


Dumbest post ever. Like this place doesn't bash religion enough. And a freaking poll as the first link?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:27 AM on December 20, 2005


Just because you don't have a specific religion doesn't mean you can't believe in heaven.

Well, someone explain how, because that is insanity.

"I don't know who's in charge or what's going on and I don't know how to act in a way that will get me in or what the rules are, but I believe that after I die I will go to a magical place where I live forever in some unknown deity's presence."

Ooooookay.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:29 AM on December 20, 2005


Dumbest post ever. Like this place doesn't bash religion enough.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:27 AM PST on December 20


What part of the post bashed religion?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:30 AM on December 20, 2005


What part of the post bashed religion?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:30 AM EST on December 20 [!]


I believe SeizeTheDay was talking about the inevitable commenters that appear for posts like this, not the post itself.
posted by unreason at 8:32 AM on December 20, 2005


Will I dream, Dave?

Apparently, we all hope so.
posted by MasonDixon at 8:33 AM on December 20, 2005


Fuck Islam.
posted by Witty at 8:35 AM on December 20, 2005


I agree with Witty. :)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:36 AM on December 20, 2005


"I don't know who's in charge or what's going on and I don't know how to act in a way that will get me in or what the rules are, but I believe that after I die I will go to a magical place where I live forever in some unknown deity's presence."

But most people who would consider themselves "religion-less" don't believe that. They're basically Christians, at least nominally, with no specific, sectarian affiliation, and thus, "no religion." That's where a little more than 51% of your Americans with "no religion" are probably coming from, I would think.
posted by jefgodesky at 8:40 AM on December 20, 2005


85% of Americans are going to heaven

Well hurry the fuck up.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:47 AM on December 20, 2005


Well, according to this guy (Pentecostal fire and brimstone charismatic preacher who had a conversion and now believes that there is no Hell), Jesus died on the cross so that everyone will go to heaven - Muslims, Atheists, Jews, and teh gays alike. If you like This American Life, I recommend checking this episode out. I thought it was pretty awesome.
posted by billysumday at 8:53 AM on December 20, 2005


This just in: 94% of self-reporting religious Americans don't understand the tenets of their own religions.

A-freaking-men.
posted by signalnine at 8:55 AM on December 20, 2005


Very Religious (If believe, spiritual only) 75%

So 25% believe that they will be bringing their physical bodies to heaven. In addition to feasting in heaven are they planning on pooping in heaven? Will they be drinking wine, and if so will there be hangovers in heaven? Sex? Menstral cramps? Nakedness?

Will you retain the body you died with? A 5 year old for all eternity or a 95 year old? What about those with missing limbs? Or what about a body part you absolutely hate? Will you have to go through all eternity with fat thighs or a big nose?

I would really love to have a conversation with someone who flat out believes s/he will be physically transported to heaven.

As for the 21% who think only Christians will be going to heaven, that's why the Left Behind series is so popular. For many Christians part of the reward of heaven is the thought of the punishment being doled out to others: "I have to turn the cheek here on earth, but you are going to be roasting in hell for all eternity while I am feasting with Jesus."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:03 AM on December 20, 2005


I know I am not one of them.
posted by a3matrix at 9:11 AM on December 20, 2005


as if one actually has to go somewhere to get there ... staying there is the tricky part
posted by pyramid termite at 9:11 AM on December 20, 2005


85% of Americans are going to heaven.

So go already...
posted by doctor_negative at 9:12 AM on December 20, 2005


Eighty-nine percent in this ABC News poll believe in heaven, which is consistent with data going back 30 years. Among believers, 85 percent think they'll personally go there — mainly in spirit, since 78 percent say it's a place where people exist only spiritually.

So 4% (±3) think heaven exists, but there're not getting in?

heh.
posted by delmoi at 9:12 AM on December 20, 2005


85% of Americans are going to heaven.



Hell no.
(pun intended)
According to mr. Tim La Haye, co-author of the “Left Behind” series of books (more than 63 million copies sold in the US), they won't. Those who haven't accepted Jesus as their personal savior (in the bizarre fundamentalist Protestant lingo), La Haye explains to his customers (he's also an apocalyptic tour guide for US tourists in Israel). He takes them to a the valley of Megiddo in Israel (Armageddon, wink wink, nudge nudge), and, according to a very interesting story in -- of all places -- the December '05 Vanity Fair, points out to the valley and says, "can you imagine this entire valley filled with blood? That would be a 200-mile long river of blood, four and half feet deep. We’ve done the math. That’s the blood of as many as two and half billion people.”

The blood, of course, is that of the Jews, the Muslims, the Catholics, the Hindus, the agnostics, the secularists -- in short, of everybody on the planet except the fundy protestants who buy LaHaye's books.
posted by matteo at 9:13 AM on December 20, 2005


85% of Americans are going to heaven

Well hurry the fuck up.




HAHAHAHA Good one quidnunc.

Dumbest post ever. Like this place doesn't bash religion enough

Any post bashing religion (any of them) is a good post by me. A lot less religion in the world is (would be) a good thing
posted by a3matrix at 9:14 AM on December 20, 2005


Oops, quidnunc kid I missed your post on first scroll. Well said.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:14 AM on December 20, 2005


You don't need a specific religion to believe in the immortality of the human soul, or in the existence of existence after death. Or that the post-mortal existence isn't all suffering and pain. I think that pretty much qualifies as heaven.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:14 AM on December 20, 2005


Those who haven't accepted Jesus as their personal savior (in the bizarre fundamentalist Protestant lingo)

No, "accepting Jesus as your personal saviour" is a pretty main stream Christian phrase.

The blood, of course, is that of the Jews, the Muslims, the Catholics, the Hindus, the agnostics, the secularists

No, it's actually not. If you would bother to read Revelation (which is where the reference is from), you'd read that the reference is to casualties of a large battle, not a mass execution.
posted by unreason at 9:18 AM on December 20, 2005


If you would bother to read Revelation

the Nestle-Aland 27 is good enough?
posted by matteo at 9:21 AM on December 20, 2005


Actually, from the first link, "Among all Americans, 75 percent think they'll go to heaven. The rest include 5 percent who believe in heaven but don't think they'll get there; 9 percent who believe but aren't sure they'll get in; and 10 percent who don't believe in heaven."
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:21 AM on December 20, 2005


the Nestle-Aland 27 is good enough?
posted by matteo at 12:21 PM EST on December 20 [!]


If you have read Revelation, then you should know what is in it or not in it.
posted by unreason at 9:25 AM on December 20, 2005


Neurology's demonstration of the physical basis for fundamental aspects of personality and memory has negated any significant possibility of a traditionally-defined afterlife which involves those aspects of a person. The popular concept of heaven is left over from the days before we knew of neurons and synapses, due to a lack of public understanding of those concepts.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:27 AM on December 20, 2005


Any post bashing religion (any of them) is a good post by me. A lot less religion in the world is (would be) a good thing

What about posts bashing fags or... say, niggers? You in?
posted by Witty at 9:27 AM on December 20, 2005


The popular concept of heaven is left over from the days before we knew of neurons and synapses, due to a lack of public understanding of those concepts.

Then why are there doctors who are also Christians?
posted by unreason at 9:29 AM on December 20, 2005


Yes Witty: because he dislikes a concept, it means he automatically dislikes unrelated groups of people and likes calling them offensive names.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:29 AM on December 20, 2005


If you like This American Life, I recommend checking this episode out. I thought it was pretty awesome.

I agree Billysumday, I listened to it the other day.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:31 AM on December 20, 2005


Then why are there doctors who are also Christians?

I think it's a combination of a sub-conscious reluctance to apply rationality to comforting beliefs, and the desire to be part of a welcoming culture and community.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:31 AM on December 20, 2005


Protocols of the Elders of Awesome - I'm just trying to get an idea of where he stands, that's all... what he deems acceptaby bash-worthy and what isn't.

Christianity, by the way, is a bit more than a "concept".
posted by Witty at 9:33 AM on December 20, 2005


It's also due to the common misconception that the popularity of an idea is evidence for it being correct.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:33 AM on December 20, 2005


So.... You're saying that the reason for Christianity is that people are ignorant, but when they're not ignorant, they must be somehow brainwashing themselves?
posted by unreason at 9:35 AM on December 20, 2005


Christianity, by the way, is a bit more than a "concept".

Quite right sir, it's not an abstract noun at all. Why, I hear Christianity knocking at my door right now. Come in, Christanity! Would you like some toast and jam, to fill your non-conceptual tummy?
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:35 AM on December 20, 2005


Old Lady: Will my doggie be in heaven too?
Priest: Yes, of course.
Old Lady: And all the cows and chickens and pigs I ate?
posted by A189Nut at 9:36 AM on December 20, 2005


God created neurons and synapses, knucklehead... and Jesus loves you.
posted by Witty at 9:36 AM on December 20, 2005


So, any one here die lately? Got any details on this heaven thing? A postcard perhaps?
posted by Mach5 at 9:37 AM on December 20, 2005


then you should know what is in it or not in it.

very little is in, sadly.

I mean, Armageddon -- Mount Megiddo, even if it's not really a mount now, more of an elevation as even Mr LaHaye would have to admit -- is mentioned just once, in Rev 16:16. if you want to make semi-historical sense of that sorry, sorry book (that got barely in the Canon, it was immediately clear that the writer to say the least extremely unreliable -- remember that in Revelation time is non-linear, which among other problems makes it pretty lame as a conversionary document, and the New Testament was and is just that) you should probably admit that the writer is engineering an impressive revenge fantasy against the Romans who had recently destroyed the Temple. and funnily enough, their troops had gathered there, close to Armageddon.

so maybe it's just that, a retelling of the destruction of the Temple, a nightmare (dream) where Jesus comes and saves the day (even Paul expected him to come back soon, after all -- he seems to be awfully late for any apocalyptic taste).


even if you buy the bugfuck insane, ill-informed theories of the Armageddon fundys, that the final battle will take place there -- among whom, again, is unclear -- is far from certain, either. maybe the armies will only gather there. Scripture does not even describe the battle there.
posted by matteo at 9:40 AM on December 20, 2005


So.... You're saying that the reason for Christianity is that people are ignorant, but when they're not ignorant, they must be somehow brainwashing themselves?

I think brainwashing is something else altogether. I'm talking about the reasons for the afterlife remaining a pervading idea in society after science has removed the historical basis for the belief - the belief that something ethereal must necessarily attach itself to physical structures for life to exist in animals but not in stones, due to a lack of understanding that animals have complex chemical pathways but stones do not.

Yes, I think the major reason is a lack of understanding, but I also think that scientifically-enlightened people can choose to overlook the evidence presented to them when they are in the company of many less knowledgeable people who hold the beliefs.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:42 AM on December 20, 2005


Why do news sources bother to report shit like this? It reminds me of a David Cross joke where he read from an Atlantan paper that was reporting a description of heaven. It actually said, "The roads in heaven are for walking and for driving. Yes, there are transportation vehicles in heave, driven by the angels. There is, however, no pollution."

Such bullshit pagefiller.
posted by piratebowling at 9:42 AM on December 20, 2005


God created neurons and synapses, knucklehead... and Jesus loves you.

In that case, I sincerely doubt God's desire for me to believe in His afterlife, given that the evidence, which my synapses allow me to assimilate, is so contrary.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:43 AM on December 20, 2005


You just haven't opened all the doors yet my friend. Hang in there.
posted by Witty at 9:45 AM on December 20, 2005


Actually, I would like to apologise for calling for the quick demise of 85% of the population of the USA. Apparently actively supporting genocide and/or crimes against humanity isn't "cool" anymore.

Personally, it strikes me as political correctness gone mad, but - grudgingly - I will admit that millions upon millions of untimely deaths might not add up to the big fucking chuckle-fest I first assumed it would.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:45 AM on December 20, 2005


What's the point of life on earth if everybody can get into Heaven? Sounds like a dreadful place to me, anyway. Like the Mall of America packed asses-to-elbows with Church Lady clones. I'll have to pass on that one, thank you just the same.

(And somebody with an "in" please ask Jesus to keep his zombie hands off my ass. It makes my aura itch like phantom 'roids.)
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:45 AM on December 20, 2005


How many of these poll participants (and humans in general) are on the fence about God, but have decided it's best to hedge their bets and make a show of believing? What do they have to lose if He/She doesn't exist? Aside from immortality and about four thousand Sunday mornings.

But, because God reads most of these polls, I don't think it's the kind of thing you can ever hope to accurately measure.
posted by crumbly at 9:47 AM on December 20, 2005


Witty, please describe the door you found so I know what I'm looking for.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:47 AM on December 20, 2005


Witty, please describe the door you found so I know what I'm looking for.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:47 PM EST on December 20 [!]


There is no need to describe it, since you are not looking for it, and do not want to find it.
posted by unreason at 9:48 AM on December 20, 2005


This isn't the doorway you were looking for. Move along.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:50 AM on December 20, 2005


If Jesus loves me so much why am I going to Hell?
posted by Smedleyman at 9:50 AM on December 20, 2005


for your own good?
posted by matteo at 9:51 AM on December 20, 2005


If Jesus loves me so much why am I going to Hell?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:50 PM EST on December 20 [!]


If Jesus opens a door through which you can escape a burning building, it's not his fault if you choose not to go through it.
posted by unreason at 9:51 AM on December 20, 2005


There is no need to describe it, since you are not looking for it, and do not want to find it.

I am interested in the truth and I am willing to change my mind on any subject if I see evidence to the contrary. I promise.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:52 AM on December 20, 2005


There is no need to describe it, since you are not looking for it, and do not want to find it.

The Word of unreason.

Smedleyman - excessive masturbation surely.
posted by Witty at 9:52 AM on December 20, 2005


I don't believe in heaven or hell. However, I do believe in purgatory, although I don't think I will get in.
posted by maxsparber at 9:52 AM on December 20, 2005


I'm always stunned that so many people think that their soul and consciousness will survive for eternity in some kind of afterlife when consciousness is so fragile anyway - we don't know that we're sleeping most of the time we're asleep, for example.

I believe that the soul merges with the universe back again in some way, but I don't believe in any way that I'll know what happens after I die - it'll be lights out.

And to me, that's comforting. It's not worth worrying about because when it happens I won't know about it to worry about it!
posted by agregoli at 9:52 AM on December 20, 2005


What about posts bashing fags or... say, niggers? You in?

As soon as the fags and the niggers start espousing intolerance, opposing the teaching of science and trying to restrict my freedoms, I'll be right there with you, Witty.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:53 AM on December 20, 2005


I am interested in the truth and I am willing to change my mind on any subject if I see evidence to the contrary. I promise.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:52 PM EST on December 20 [!]


Come now. Your responses make it quite clear that you don't want there to be a God, and you don't want Christianity to be true. The way it works is simple. If you want to find God, you will. When you say that you are interested in the truth, what you really mean is that you want to prove that the truth is what you want it to be.
posted by unreason at 9:54 AM on December 20, 2005


a door? a thought it was a closet?
posted by mr.marx at 9:57 AM on December 20, 2005


I believe that the soul merges with the universe back again in some way, but I don't believe in any way that I'll know what happens after I die - it'll be lights out.

So you DO have faith in something then? That's good.

If you want to find God,...

That hardest part of all.
posted by Witty at 9:58 AM on December 20, 2005


Then why are there doctors who are also Christians?

Because most people, regardless of their education, are afraid of the dark and will tell themselves anything to quell that fear.
posted by zarah at 10:02 AM on December 20, 2005


If you want to find God,...

pssst! I think He's hiding under the bed. Allie-allie-in's-free!!!

Oh, crap! It was the boogi...... ack!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:02 AM on December 20, 2005


Your responses make it quite clear that you don't want there to be a God, and you don't want Christianity to be true.

Let's imagine for a moment that I am genuinely interested in the truth, like I just said I was, and that I tried to use evidence to find it and to discuss it with other people. How would I behave differently to the way that I am behaving? How does anything I have done preclude the possibility that I'm being honest with you? Is the idea of someone being interested in finding the truth, rather than clinging on to the ideas they were given as children or by their community, so alien to you?
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 10:02 AM on December 20, 2005


If Jesus opens a door through which you can escape a burning building, it's not his fault if you choose not to go through it.

Even if he's the one who set the building on fire?
posted by Doug at 10:16 AM on December 20, 2005


And by the way, the rhetoric you are employing is ad hominem: you are not making an effort to dispute what I have said, just my reasons for saying it. It's a fallacy.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 10:18 AM on December 20, 2005


People believe what they want to believe.

And this makes me very sad.
posted by LordSludge at 10:23 AM on December 20, 2005


And what do you believe LordSludge?
posted by Witty at 10:27 AM on December 20, 2005


"Smedleyman - excessive masturbation surely." - posted by Witty

Well, yeah, but besides that...

Life is a job. You get $14.50 a day, but after you die, you have to pay for your sins. Stealing a hub cap is around $100. Murder, is like $500,000. Masturbation is about 35 cents (it doesn't seem like much, but it adds up). If there's money left when you subtract what you owe from what you've earned, you can go to heaven. I keep having this dream that I almost get to heaven but I’m just 35 cents short

I know there are some deeply held beliefs, but they’re tough for me to take seriously if they are as purile as the paper treats them. I don’t think a lot of folks think too deeply about metaphysics. People using religion as a “be in my club or you’re damned” sort of exclusion/power trip thing doesn’t help much to foster rational thought either. I suspect that’s the idea behind idolatry. Don’t get too hung up on the symbol. Heaven being a symbol of course. A bookmark for thinking about consciousness and it’s relationship with reality and how acts reiterate.

But again, I’m going to Hell anyway, so...
posted by Smedleyman at 10:28 AM on December 20, 2005


I like that although 96% of Catholics believe in heaven, only 84% think they're getting in there. As opposed to evangelical Protestants, with 99% belief and 94% certainty of entry.

Which only means one thing: Catholics are less likely to lie to themselves about what good people they are.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:30 AM on December 20, 2005


Is this like how 80% of people think of themselves as above average drivers?
posted by iron chef morimoto at 10:32 AM on December 20, 2005


I guess heaven's like Ultima, then. You can't get there by actually looking for it.
posted by quantumetric at 10:34 AM on December 20, 2005


12% of Americans believe they are going to Hell, refuse to do anything about it to spite God, parents
posted by aaronetc at 10:35 AM on December 20, 2005


Because most people, regardless of their education, are afraid of the dark and will tell themselves anything to quell that fear.

except you. perhaps you can save us all. i stand in awe of your titanic intellectual prowess and find your collosal testicular dimensions most impressive.
posted by quonsar at 10:36 AM on December 20, 2005


colossal.
posted by quonsar at 10:40 AM on December 20, 2005


Witty, please describe the door you found so I know what I'm looking for.

Whatever you do, don't pick door number three. Monty Hall's a slick motherfucker.
posted by fungible at 10:52 AM on December 20, 2005


Don't look Behind the Green Door, either. Or do. Your call, I guess.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:01 AM on December 20, 2005


2 words: Worm. Food.

The thing that gets me about this article is that, according to this survey, 19.5% of Americans believe that Heaven is a physical place, where they will physically go. I find that absolutely ponderous.
posted by JeffK at 11:01 AM on December 20, 2005


Then why are there doctors who are also Christians?
posted by unreason at 11:29 AM CST on December 20 [!]


Same reason there are christian geologists. They are smart people who are just unable to completely detach from their superstitious upbringing. You have a guy that 6 days per week earns his living by analyzing rock structures that his own experiments tell him are millions of years old. Then on Sunday he goes to sit in a pretty building and hear about how the world is only 4000-6000 years old, and raises no objections. I know two of these by the way. Professional Geologist Christians. Christian doctors crack me up too. How many doctors are going to recommend prayer for a tumor?

See, that's my complaint about this whole thing. Nobody believes any of this shit, even though they SAY they do.

I have reached a point in my life that I cannot take seriously any grown, educated adult who REALLY believes that a giant boat had 2 of everything from polar bears to scorpions and landed on top of a fucking mountain.

I cannot seriously discuss things with someone who REALLY thinks a woman turned into a pillar of salt because she looked over her shoulder. (And that wasn't even the fucking point).

I cannot take a person's viewpoint under careful consideration if they REALLY believe that Jesus cast out a bunch of demons into a herd of pigs that then committed mass suicide.

I think people SAY they believe this shit all the time, but if really, truly pressed, noone buys any of it. They can't.

Example:

If Witty and I were sitting in a room, and there was a piano tethered above me by a frayed rope, and it was clear that any moment it was going to fall and crush me, I would hope that he wouldn't waste time talking to me about how I'm doing, how's work, did you see the football game...

The ONLY topic of conversation, ever, is getting me out from under the piano. Everything else is secondary and can wait. If he has to, he should forcibly come over and drag me kicking and screaming by my hair out of the way. Because he REALLY believes I'm going to get crushed by the piano.

But, we all have religious family and friends who waste all matter of time talking about trivial nonsense. If you are "not saved", do you *REALLY* think your Aunt Rebecca *REALLY* thinks you are going to be cast into a lake of fire for all of eternity????? If she did, how in Jehovah's name could she sit there and ask how school is going????

The whole thing is so absurd and exasperating I just get angry talking about it.

Witty, do you really, truly, HONESTLY, believe there is a real, vast pit of fire that you are cast into to burn and suffer for 100 billion trillion years, just because you didn't "figure it out" right during your 80 years on earth. Given the billions and trillions of years in hell, that's a tiny window of opportunity to get it right.

It is akin to hitting the lottery. You've got a 1 in several million chance of getting it right in this tiny window of opportunity. Good luck.


If Jesus opens a door through which you can escape a burning building, it's not his fault if you choose not to go through it.
posted by unreason at 11:51 AM CST on December 20 [!]


Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

Firefighters do not go to burning buildings and merely open up a door for people to escape. The bust in and remove people by force, even constraining them if necessary, to remove them from the burning flames.

What if your child were in a burning house. Would you open the door, and when he didn't come out, would you just shrug and say "well, his own fault, I did all I could".

Jesus is either a cold calculating sociopath, or he is an apathetic cold-hearted dipshit.

Either way, I don't want anything to do with him.

I guess that's why the Tsunami happened. Jesus didn't close the airports so all those people had the chance to leave, right? He opened the door, and is therefore blameless.

Any God who would sit on his hands and drown 200,000 people in one swipe is a sadist and can kiss my ass.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:08 AM on December 20, 2005


Poteoa- "Neurology's demonstration of the physical basis for fundamental aspects of personality and memory has negated any significant possibility of a traditionally-defined afterlife..."

Wait...wha?

When the hell did this happen?! Papers, sources, please! This is fucking huge!

Because I was under the impression that we're still puzzling out the basic structure of memory, and that there remain many mysteries concerning the "source" of our personality... in fact, I was under the impression that there remained many aspects of reality that scientists have no fucking explaination for whatsoever.

But apparently, we're done.

I'll be in the bathroom drinking scotch and wanking off.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:09 AM on December 20, 2005


I believe that the soul merges with the universe back again in some way, but I don't believe in any way that I'll know what happens after I die - it'll be lights out.

So you DO have faith in something then? That's good.


No, I don't have any faith that happens. It's just what I think does happen. I could be totally wrong, and guess what? I'm ok with that too.

Regardless, consciousness is not provable beyond death, and therefore I think it's weird to think it exists. But to each their own.
posted by agregoli at 11:14 AM on December 20, 2005


Hell is proof that God, like Bush, believes in rendition.

Y'see, that way God can say he doesn't torture. He just loves. Love, love, love, that's him. "Torture? That's that other guy. Nothing to do with me, gov. Thou shouldst have worshipped me when thou hadst the fookin' chance."
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:16 AM on December 20, 2005


Very Religious (If believe, spiritual only) 75%

So 25% believe that they will be bringing their physical bodies to heaven. In addition to feasting in heaven are they planning on pooping in heaven?


I actually find it harder to understand what people think they mean when they say heaven is "spiritual". Does that mean outside of time and space? In that sense, how is it really different from non-existence? If the "energy" of a person lives on, it's worth remembering e=mc^2, yeah? if the "energy" lives on, then that means the matter lives on.

A physical-but-so-much-better heaven, at least I can conceive. It's completely baseless, but theoretically workable - we 'wake up' from this shadow world into an ideal one when we die, kinda thing. But a purely "spiritual" heaven doesn't even really make sense to me.
posted by mdn at 11:17 AM on December 20, 2005


Ynoxas - "Nobody believes any of this shit, even though they SAY they do."

I believe in God. I'll tell you why:

Once, a few years back, I was way down south in the Amazon basin in Peru.
I was in a tree, sitting on a platform, getting some work done.

And God came down from Heaven and spoke to me about my grandparents, the nature of the universe, and the interconnected of all life. God had a voice like Leonard Nimoy and looked like a gigantic, pulsating ball of leafy green plants suspended in space.

I can't really prove to you that any of this happened, I didn't take pictures or anything - but that's not really the point.

If you corner me, and say, "Balrog! I don't believe that you really believe in all that hokey spiritual shit you babble on about," and I say to you, "You're right. I don't believe it," I will be LYING to you. Just as if you came up to me and said, "I don't believe the stars are visible at night."

I'm not an evengelical, confrontational person. I don't expect you to believe in my mystical conversion experience. In fact, I'm not asking you to. Frankly, it's pretty unbelievable. It freaked my shit right out when it happened.

But don't be a dick - and tell me that I don't believe in the stuff that I believe in. That's not only a bad way to make your point - it's unapologetically offensive.

At least I'm not trying to convert anyone. When it's time for you to believe, you'll believe. If it never happens, then it never happens.

Don't be one of those people who makes it their hobby to go around pissing in other people's cornflakes.
You're free to defend your atheism or agnosticism or whatever when you're attacked, but don't assume that every believer is out to do away with science class.

This is moot, anyway. Christians are incredibly ill-informed concerning their religion.
Jesus didn't say anything about Heaven. Heaven- and the soul - is just a bunch of Cartesian hogwash.
Real Christians die, wait in the ground, rise up from the grave after the tribulations, and live in New Jerusalem ON THE EARTH. Not on some cloud.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:22 AM on December 20, 2005 [12 favorites]


Witty, do you really, truly, HONESTLY, believe there is a real, vast pit of fire that you are cast into to burn and suffer for 100 billion trillion years, just because you didn't "figure it out" right during your 80 years on earth.

No I don't. Quite frankly, I don't know what to believe exactly. I am comfortable in knowing that "I don't know". I look forward to finding out... and THAT I believe will happen on some level after I "die". I was born into a Christian home, but I'm not a religious guy by any stretch. I've never read the bible and don't really have much interest in it. While I have been to do church on many occassions (usually for special ones), I don't go on a regular basis.

But I believe in God... I believe in Bigfoot too. I believe in The Force. I believe there is something greater than science could ever begin to explain. I believe that for every scientific discovery, we've simply managed to explain something very simple, even though it may have seemed impossible just a few years ago. For every question answered, 5 more are asked.

So no matter what science "proves", it doesn't have an answer for everything. I'm a logical guy, which is why I have a problem getting involved in any organized religion. I "don't believe" for the same reasons you "don't believe". But I believe in spirituality, if that makes any sense. I believe that whatever helps people get closer to "answering" the questions they have, questions that go unanswered by every other means, is a good thing.

I don't get hung up in trying to explain the obvious discrepancies in what the bible says and what science tells us. I'm comfortable with what every day Christianity tries to teach... the same way I feel about Buddhism and Islam, etc. I'm uncomfortable with fundalmentalists on all sides.

I just can't write anything off as "untrue"... I am mortal and will die some day. That's all I know for sure. What I want to believe, and do believe, is that it doesn't end there. I look forward, in a way, to finding out.
posted by Witty at 11:28 AM on December 20, 2005


Scientists and God. Give the scientific believers more credit than not being able to escape a heard mentality.

I'm an atheist. But I just AM. Maybe I lack the God Gene. It's like a reverse faith. So what? Well it's getting weirder. My environment has gotten more Christian; I feel less able to express my thoughts. That's just anecdotal, but that's what I took away from the original links. Jeepers, I really AM that outside of the mainstream. I didn't used to feel that way.
posted by rainbaby at 11:28 AM on December 20, 2005


I don't know if this blast by Joe Bageant has already been linked by anybody, but most of y'all are bound to enjoy it.
"The best thing about the Left Behind books is the way the non-Christians get their guts pulled out by God."

  —15-year old fundamentalist fan of the Left Behind series
That is the sophisticated language and appeal of America’s all-time best selling adult novels celebrating the ethnic cleansing of non-Christians at the hands of Christ. If a Muslim were to write an Islamic version of last book in the Left Behind series, Glorious Appearing, and publish it across the Middle East, Americans would go berserk. Yet tens of millions of Christians eagerly await and celebrate an End Time when everyone who disagrees with them will be murdered in ways that make Islamic beheading look like a bridal shower. Jesus—who apparently has a much nastier streak than we have been led to believe—merely speaks and “the bodies of the enemy are ripped wide open down the middle.” In the book Christians have to drive carefully to avoid “hitting splayed and filleted corpses of men and women and horses,” even as the riders’ tongues are melting in their mouths and they are being wide-open gutted by God’s own hand, the poor damned horses are getting the same treatment. Sort of a divinely inspired version of “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.”

This may be some of the bloodiest hate fiction ever published, but it is also what tens of millions of Americans believe is God’s will...
(Via wood s lot.)
posted by languagehat at 11:32 AM on December 20, 2005


crazy shit
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:22 AM PST on December 20


Wait, what? Seriously or are you joking?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:36 AM on December 20, 2005


Dead serious, Optimus.

And you know I am not prone to hyperbolous jibberjabber.

But I'm trying to make a point. An experiential relationship with God can't be somehow made false just by simply saying, "I don't believe that you really believe you saw what you claim to have seen."

But. You know. I don't talk about this a lot because I don't really care if people believe me or not.
I'm not out for converts.

if i was i'd tell you what god said to me. not that you'd care.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:40 AM on December 20, 2005


wait. what part was the crazy shit?
it wasn't my first comment, about neuroscience not having discovered everything about the way the brain functions, was it?

because... i can actually cite some sources if you want.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:42 AM on December 20, 2005


if i was i'd tell you what god said to me. not that you'd care.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:40 AM PST on December 2


Why wouldn't I want to know what a "gigantic, pulsating ball of leafy green plants" with the voice of Leonard Nimoy said? You believe you have spoken to the Maker and yet you don't think the rest of us are interested in what He has to say? Dead wrong.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:44 AM on December 20, 2005


Care to share a bit more about your experience in Peru, Baby_Balrog?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:46 AM on December 20, 2005


Hey, that's another Smiths shoutout. Rock on.
posted by 912 Greens at 11:53 AM on December 20, 2005


Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens
posted by fixedgear at 11:58 AM on December 20, 2005


I believe America is going all to hell and dragging 100 percent of the population with it.
posted by pracowity at 12:00 PM on December 20, 2005


Because I was under the impression that we're still puzzling out the basic structure of memory, and that there remain many mysteries concerning the "source" of our personality

I didn't say that we have a total understanding of how the brain works. I said that we have shown beyond question that some fundamental aspects of personality and memory have a physical basis. You don't appear to disagree.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:00 PM on December 20, 2005


Baby_Balrog, I consider someone who is honored with the presence of the Leafy Nimoysphere, and who chooses not to spend a significant amount of effort attempting to convert people, to be selfish in the extreme. Do you not care about your fellow man, and the risk of his eternal suffering?
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:05 PM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


The thing that gets me about this article is that, according to this survey, 19.5% of Americans believe that Heaven is a physical place, where they will physically go. I find that absolutely ponderous.

If it is a "place" at all, where anyone "goes," how can it not be physical? (doesn't have to be terrestrial or even have the same physics as our world, perhaps, but if it exists, someone please explain how it can happen nowhere & nowhen.
posted by mdn at 12:05 PM on December 20, 2005


"Why wouldn't I want to know what a "gigantic, pulsating ball of leafy green plants" with the voice of Leonard Nimoy said?"

/sigh. i'm gonna go smoke first.

Ok, Optimus. But you better not be hoodwinking me into to revealing all this shit to you just so you can turn around and call me crazy and make fun of me.
Or crucify me or something.

I was up on the platform at ACEER taking some wide-angle canopy photographs when I ran out of film. I realized that I'd have to hike all the way down to the forest floor and back to my tent to get more film so I decided to just sit there and watch the sunset instead.

As I was sitting there, I began to realize, intensely, that everything around me was alive, and therefore quite impermanent, and I became intensely sad.
Suddenly there was a lizard, about eight inches long, sitting beside my boot. I looked at it, and I remember thinking, "Wow. That looks like a tuatara, but it can't be, because they live in Australia."

When I looked up there was a gigantic black spot, right in front of me, with little sparkly bits around the edges. It occupied about 80% of my field of vision. In the center was a giant floating ball of vines and leaves.

I heard a deep, male voice. I only assume the voice came from the leafy ball, I'm not sure.

Anyway, it said, "Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nag!"

Just kidding.

It said, and I'm paraphrasing here, I don't remember exactly, "You are sad because you only see that physical aspect of the lifeforms around you. Why do you persist in ignorance?"

I sort of realized immediately that I was having "an experience," though I'd never really pursued the numinous or put much thought into it. I wanted to ask something, but I couldn't think of anything to ask really. So I asked about my grandma, because she was sick and I knew she was going to die.
And it said, "Your grandma cannot die because she has lived, and will live forever. It is only your misperception of beginnings and endings that has convinced you that she will die. She lives eternally, as all creation lives eternally."

I sense you laughing at me.

And I said, "But that doesn't make any sense!" And it said, "Of course it doesn't make sense to you. You are ignorant and trapped in a world in which you cannot see things clearly. But one day, when all the dead space in you has gone away and you return to the infinite love that it is the true nature of reality, you will no longer have any questions, because you - yourself - will be the answer."

And then all the, "wait, wait! I have so much to ask you!" and the fading away into nothing, and me being left there in a tree, feeling like my body was the entire world and my mind was the jungle canopy, and feeling like I didn't need to worry about spiritual questions anymore, and the darkness fading into the beautiful orange sunset, and that was pretty much the end of it.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:09 PM on December 20, 2005 [4 favorites]


i'm gonna go smoke first.

Tobacco?
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:13 PM on December 20, 2005


yes. tobacco.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:14 PM on December 20, 2005


ever post something and then immediately regret posting it?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:14 PM on December 20, 2005


Huh.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:16 PM on December 20, 2005


Baby_Balrog, if this happened to you as you say, then posting it is an act of pure selfless brilliance, and you should feel great joy. Happy holidays.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:16 PM on December 20, 2005


Actually, that was quite beautiful. I don't regret reading it.
posted by enakaja at 12:16 PM on December 20, 2005


(said contemplatively, not dismissively)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:17 PM on December 20, 2005


Every time I post, Baby_Balrog.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:17 PM on December 20, 2005


well, thanks for posting it; it was beautiful to read, whatever it means... I can related to ideas of interconnectedness and wholeness as routes to reverence for this world, a spinozistic concept of god, etc.
I can't relate to a timeline where people die and then "go" to heaven, but maybe it's all a problem of semantics if people just mean they'll return to the whole. I guess it's the belief in the continuance of an individual consciousness that I can't make sense of. That requires a physical manifestation.
posted by mdn at 12:20 PM on December 20, 2005


So, Americans are credulous?
posted by orthogonality at 12:20 PM on December 20, 2005


Yes, but only Americans. The rest of the world is purely rational.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:22 PM on December 20, 2005


Baby_Balrog, can you conjecture as to why you were selected for this first-hand proof of the supernatural, when so many have to do without?
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:22 PM on December 20, 2005


To all those people mocking the idea of a physical Heaven, let me ask you this:

Have you never heard of zombies?
posted by iron chef morimoto at 12:22 PM on December 20, 2005


It should be noted, though, that when I was quite young I had a very "real" experience wherein gray Strieber-esque aliens were at my windows transmitting thoughts directly into my brain. That does not mean I believe it actually happened; a rather more prosaic explanation was in order.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:23 PM on December 20, 2005


Americans are credulous?

i believe so.

btw, thanks for sharing, baby_balrog. i don't know what i am other than anti-organized religion, but i feel that if you had a moment with something Greater than Yourself you're a very, very fortunate and special person.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:24 PM on December 20, 2005


This Heaven, amberglow and Omiewise aren't allowed in, right?
posted by orthogonality at 12:24 PM on December 20, 2005


Optimus:

Were you smoking tobacco at the time?
posted by iron chef morimoto at 12:26 PM on December 20, 2005


Baby_Balrog, please understand my surprise at your latest blog entry (which says that Penn and Teller's attempts to wreck people's faith in the Bible are "perfect") given your experience and your previous comments in this thread. Could you explain your motivation?
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:30 PM on December 20, 2005


small inconvenience
fancy parking the spirit
presuming last laugh
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:32 PM on December 20, 2005


Were you smoking tobacco at the time?
posted by iron chef morimoto at 12:26 PM PST on December 20


I think I had a ridiculously high fever, actually. I was pretty fucked up.

Baby_Balrog, please understand my surprise at your latest blog entry

Nice find.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:32 PM on December 20, 2005


:D

Yes. Nice find indeed.

I, too, take great issue with organized religion. However, my post here was in response to ynoxas attack on belief in all things numinous or mystical.

The Penn and Teller bit was really more an attack on Christianity, or a belief in an inherently factual holy book.

Plus, Penn and Teller are some funny, funny guys.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:40 PM on December 20, 2005


Well let's hope they don't start mocking the belief in an inherently factual MeFi comment. That would be mean.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:44 PM on December 20, 2005


"inherently factual MeFi comment"

Now I've heard some crazy talk before, but...

Have you been smoking tobacco?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:49 PM on December 20, 2005


Now, listen here. Penn and Teller are perfectly welcome to call bullshit on my little experience, if they'd like to. I'd have a hard time buying it myself, if it hadn't happened to me.

I was only pointing it out because someone else had said that people who have faith "can't possibly actually believe that stuff."

Nowhere in the show do they claim that "the faithful" are actually lying about their faith.

And more importantly, Penn and Teller are pointing out the many recursive themes found in the Bible that occur in other faiths, as well as several incongruities in the text itself.

I'm not out there proselytizing.

But if I were, I would request that you check out this and this.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:59 PM on December 20, 2005


Only posted those links because I discovered that their message is somewhat similar to the experience I had.

I'm not saying they represent the absolute truth or anything. I'm just saying, in my attempts at dealing with that experience, I found the material espoused by those people to be helpful.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:00 PM on December 20, 2005


Wow. 85%. Off to the happy invisible indetectable hereafter.

Remember kids, when stroppy atheists look at things like this and make a comment along the lines of "many key religious beliefs are just plain batshit crazy", we're just being sophomoric. Unlike the smart, mature, well-balanced people who believe in the batshit craziness.
posted by Decani at 1:08 PM on December 20, 2005


...decani....
there was a time, not so long ago, when people flying to the moon was batshit craziness.

Until we've actually figured everything out, I think it would probably behoove us not to rule stuff out just because it "sounds crazy."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:17 PM on December 20, 2005


I watched that Penn and Teller video and found it to be pretty offensive. I don't believe the stories happened either, and I really like Micheal Schermer, (sp?) however Penn's statement at the end that the Bible is an "uninteresting book full of one-dimensional characters with a crappy plot" (paraphrasing) Is utterly false as far as I'm concerned. When one studies it in its original language it reveals itself as a work of supreme genious. Read "The Guide of the Perplexed" by Maimonedes if you don't believe me. Anyone who thinks the Bible is a shallow book is deluding themselves and hasn't dug deeper than their crappy english translation which still claims that God took out Adam's "rib". Laughable.
posted by anomie at 1:21 PM on December 20, 2005


*genius* I am not. I also suck at using spell check.
posted by anomie at 1:22 PM on December 20, 2005


Hmm.

I'd have a hard time buying it myself, if it hadn't happened to me.

Then you understand why I figure you were hallucinating, dreaming, having a weird internal thought process that felt absolutely real to you but wasn't happening except in your imagination. I've had dreams like that, dreams that felt absolutely real but that I decided had to be dreams, despite how it felt, because I know that people don't, for example, fly, and because I know that people do dream weird stuff, hallucinate weird stuff, all the time.

BUT: nothing would be cooler than to experience something like that and to believe that it really, really, really happened and that there is not a chance that I had been dreaming, hallucinating, maybe temporarily loony. So... cool. If I could get safe drugs that worked like that, I'd be taking them right now instead of (or, gigantic black spot with little sparkly bits forbid, in addition to) typing this.
posted by pracowity at 1:32 PM on December 20, 2005


The thing that gets me, Baby_Balrog, is how one can be aware of the many and varied ways that your brain can lie to you and still think that this experience was in any way grounded in any type of objective reality. Isn't it more intellectually honest to say that, in all probability, my brain played tricks on me in Peru, than to say I had a supernatural experience?

Though I appreciate you sharing and all - took guts in this neck of the, erm, woods.

Now what would be a really fun Penn and Teller show is if they emulated Jesus' miracles using only materials around in 30CE. Or maybe they have, already - I don't get it here.
posted by Sparx at 1:32 PM on December 20, 2005


Sparx - I've had my brain play tricks on me before. This wasn't it. I don't really have an answer for you. I am certain it wasn't a hallucination, though I can't explain to you how it is that I am certain.

This sort of dillemma lends itself to not talking about stuff like this.

The entire experience had a profound positive impact on my life. I'm pretty much satisfied with that.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:44 PM on December 20, 2005


I wanna make it to heaven just for the great barbecue thrown by Witty and his Klan buddies. Will post flickr link soon.
posted by bardic at 1:49 PM on December 20, 2005


If anything, I'd love to live to see armageddon just to see those smug, hyprocritical, sanctimonious, bigoted christian fundamentalists cast into the lake of fire. I have every expectation that I'll be tossed in there with them, but for a half-second, I would be enormously satisfied.
posted by psmealey at 1:52 PM on December 20, 2005


I wanted to go to Limbo when I died, but I guess that I waited too long. What a bummer.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 2:04 PM on December 20, 2005


Two questions, then, B_B. Why do you assume it's God? It seems very similar in ways to buddhist kensho experiences, albeit externalised. And also, if you know your brain plays tricks on you, you must have noticed those tricks. Why then assume that your brain is incapable of playing tricks on you that you don't notice as 'tricks', man who mistook his wife for a hat style / brain hardwired for religious experience style?
posted by Sparx at 2:12 PM on December 20, 2005


I've had my brain play tricks on me before. This wasn't it. I don't really have an answer for you. I am certain it wasn't a hallucination, though I can't explain to you how it is that I am certain.

Certainty's just one of the brain's coolest tricks. It's when it yanks out all the stops after hustling you with tricks that easier to see through. The brain is neat.

It's cool, though. It's one of my unfalsifiable beliefs that experiences like that are more common than most people--even, or perhaps especially, those who've had them--realize. They vary by scale and frequency, and by the certainty assigned to them in narratives-at-oneself afterwards.

I've enjoyed the ones I've had. They've never involved animate balls of foliage life-force talking to me, more a distinctly non-verbal intense awareness of immanent presence. Each time, I remain convinced they aren't hallucinations, absolutely certain with no way of explaining why--which, counter-intuitively, makes me not very vested in claiming much certainty in them.

The entire experience had a profound positive impact on my life. I'm pretty much satisfied with that.

That would be the important bit, yeah. I happen to think that it's entirely separate from being invested in believing the root experience to be true or not, though.
posted by Drastic at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2005


"When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all." -- God
posted by kindall at 2:27 PM on December 20, 2005


Isn't it more intellectually honest to say that, in all probability, my brain played tricks on me in Peru, than to say I had a supernatural experience?

You know, if you want to get really philosophical, if the mind created the vision to reveal truth to the consciousness, that doesn't stop it from being god... A lot of religions & mystical systems consider the self a conduit for the Everything, so that each mind is tapping into the godhead (whether it's called the Brahman, the noumenal, the oversoul or whatever - not that those terms are identical, but just that the tendency to conceive of some underlying unity is strong).

consciousness, the unity of self, the spontaneity of thought, and the simple fact of 'something rather than nothing', are really where the concept of god got its start. The first three are all about the existence of the mind, which has always been a fundamental factor in the pursuit of god. To say god is just in your mind doesn't necessarily mean god's not god; it could mean that your mind is more than just you, ultimately.

(I'm not saying it's the case, just pointing out that "it's just in your mind" is begging the question because you're already making assumptions about "mind")
posted by mdn at 2:30 PM on December 20, 2005


except you. perhaps you can save us all. i stand in awe of your titanic intellectual prowess and find your collosal testicular dimensions most impressive.

It was a simple statement borne of personal experience & clearly the kernel of truth within it tweaked a sensitive-old-man nerve, bwah! But it's true I don't have a jesus nightlight, mine's a van gogh.
posted by zarah at 2:47 PM on December 20, 2005


Good point, mdn. There are some implicit assumptions about mind in there, but ultimately I'm with drastic (with my own perverse twist, of course).
posted by Sparx at 2:58 PM on December 20, 2005


“I began to realize, intensely, that everything around me was alive, and therefore quite impermanent ... She lives eternally, as all creation lives eternally." -posted by Baby_Balrog

Say, I’ve been there. I’d tell people I’ve seen God, but that word doesn’t do the concept justice. And I know enough about neuroscience and metaphysics to know that it wasn’t a brain snafu. There was no feeling of awe or anything. Nothing had changed. I was looking at the world (rock, ice and lichen in this case) through different eyes. No words, but I heard, nothing taught but I learned. It was the “just so”ness of it that convinced me of it’s validity. Just a new understanding. Interconnectedness, time, recursion, infinity, etc. And humor. In the sense that I’m going to die and suffer in life, but that’s just fine. Everything happens to everybody. And we’re all part of and embody eternity. But since I choose to continue to see the world through my old eyes, I’ll take the suffering and such very personally. Which I knew I’d choose to do. Which was the humorous part. Since I also knew I’d later bitch about it - even knowing that we’re all part of and embody eternity.
I think also, because I’m entirely unable to put it into words, it resonates. It’s a valid experiance to me. Thus the whole Taoism thing.
Anyway, I came back and one of my sergents said I looked like I just saw God.
I was left with this depth of understanding. “God” the word just doesn’t do it for me. It just seems like there are things I intuitively know now.

I think my experiance differs from Baby_Balrog’s because such things are subjective.
Kinda like when the spirit of Cesar Chavez appears to Homer Simpson:

“Homer: Why do you look like Caesar Romero?
Chavez: Because you don't know what Cesar Chavez looks like.”

In Yoga - "Siddhasan," is a meditative posture, the name has no English translation. It (according to Yogis) opens the veins in the body and gives "Sidhies," or a greater insight into the understanding of one's self.

Other schools of meditation consider Sidhies as a distraction because they can lead to superhuman states (supposedly superfast speed, etc - in practice most likely greater concentration, clearer thought, et.al). So they’re besides the point.

Sidhies are also embodied - obviously with the oddly similar name for Irish fairies but also the Hawaiian Menehune, Icelandic trolls, and other little peoples.

Each of these are associated with various types of contact with the supernatural (not meant in the perjorative) the supernatural (meant perjoratively) and various types of insight experiance.

I suspect I didn’t get it that way because of my outlook and the fact I had an assault rifle.
I can’t say the trappings (big leaf, Nimoy, etc) have any personal resonance with me (other than the knowlege I have of other events and different trappings) but the gist I completely relate to.

Changed my life as well. It’s about when I started thinking about not killing people for a living.

Lifes too important to take seriously.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:04 PM on December 20, 2005


I’d add that experiances similar to kensho experiences are often externalised involving “little people” or sidhies.
(I use those terms purely generally)

And of course it doesn’t stop objective reality from being real* or existing without consciousness, but perhaps consciousness is a natural feature of infinity or of existance.
And really, I don’t know the significance of it since obviously quite a few of us choose to continue playing “Smedleyman” or whatever our ego-identities are.
*smirk*


*(that is: placing it as superior somehow or able to override physical laws - the sun literally stopping for example in the bible)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:11 PM on December 20, 2005


You know, I was sort of expecting this thread to go the, ah, blazecock pile-on route, but it's actually gotten very, very good.

Thank you, Baby_Balrog, for taking the risk and posting about your experience with your sparkling, Nimoy-voiced Amazonian vine-ball. I applaud you for your courage, and for being the sort of person who'd make a Cthulhu joke right smack in the middle of describing a life-changing conversion experience. If I can ever buy you a drink or a bunch of really good chocolate, you let me know.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:14 PM on December 20, 2005


Sparx: The thing that gets me, Baby_Balrog, is how one can be aware of the many and varied ways that your brain can lie to you and still think that this experience was in any way grounded in any type of objective reality. Isn't it more intellectually honest to say that, in all probability, my brain played tricks on me in Peru, than to say I had a supernatural experience?

Sparx, how do you know your brain isn't playing tricks on you right now? When you have only your senses to gather information, how do you choose when to trust them, and when not to?
posted by me & my monkey at 3:28 PM on December 20, 2005


baby_balrog, if it helps make you a better person and the world a better place, more power to you.
posted by jiawen at 3:32 PM on December 20, 2005


.... it was then that I was carrying you.
posted by hatchetjack at 3:35 PM on December 20, 2005


And I know enough about neuroscience and metaphysics to know that it wasn’t a brain snafu.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:04 PM PST on December 20


Even someone who has modeled the function of the inferior frontal gyrus might still be plagued by the monsters that gyrus modeled.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:52 PM on December 20, 2005


Thanks, B_B, for sharing.

I also thought, at first, that the revelation reminded me very much of kensho experience in Buddhist meditation. The "awakening" to the interconnectedness of all things from the inability to see reality is especially Zen Buddhist.

Indeed, "interconnectedness" in that sense isn't really a Christian sensation. Christian faith tends to be more dualistic: humans are definitely not interrelated or interconnected with animals and plants in a spiritual sense. And the physical world is not an unreal shadow that blinds us to reality - it IS part of Christian reality (albeit only a part, as the spiritual realm is concealed). So your experience wouldn't seem to support a Christian numinosity.

I recall having similar experiences of "awakening" to a vibrant interconnectedness with all nature, time, the sun-moon-stars at various points in my life. There were no theophanies or vocal emanations, per se. But the mind ceased discursive thought and just understood, grasped, floated in the sense of pure being, or Istigkeit. Sometimes, I can summon that sense anew, and feel profoundly, once more, that sublime interconnection with all beings.
posted by darkstar at 4:24 PM on December 20, 2005


Thanks to Baby_Balrog for turning this into a fantastic thread about spirituality.

Rationalists commonly insist that spiritual belief must lay a claim to some kind of objective, verifiable truth in order to be credible. Perhaps such insistence is a consequence of the numerous claims Christianity makes in attempting to explain the physical world - the objective reality that we all share.

However, there are plenty of unprovable truths that we tend to accept as truths and do not normally question. These unprovable truths are facts about the internal world of a person, such as: "I love her", or "I am sad". There is no way to prove or disprove these statements, yet even the most ardent rationalists do not hold people making such statements to be delusional.

Perhaps it is useful to view a person's relationship to God or spirituality in similar terms - as an individual, internal truth, rather than an objective, provable one.
posted by yoz420 at 4:25 PM on December 20, 2005


Jesus is either a cold calculating sociopath, or he is an apathetic cold-hearted dipshit.

I've always thought that God was an egomaniac. The first 4 rules of the 10 commandments are all about how he wants people to grovel to him.

This may be some of the bloodiest hate fiction ever published, but it is also what tens of millions of Americans believe is God’s will...
(Via wood s lot.)
posted by languagehat at 2:32 PM EST on December 20

I've always thought the Left Behind series are so popular because of the revenge angle. Modern Christians get tired of being mocked, of being powerless, of not being able to force others to believe (aaah the good old days of the Spanish Inquisition) and so they indulge themselves in these bizarre daydreams of "I told you so, but you wouldn't listen to me..."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:49 PM on December 20, 2005


These unprovable truths are facts about the internal world of a person, such as: "I love her", or "I am sad". There is no way to prove or disprove these statements

This is false.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:49 PM on December 20, 2005


I'm joining Baby_Balrog's religion.
posted by maxsparber at 4:52 PM on December 20, 2005


Maxsparber: Pilgramage to Peru 2006 - Special Guest, Leonard Nimoy. Special Guest Deity, C'thulhu :-)

Me & My Monkey: Assuming you're not arguing for solipsism, the best you can do is make an educated guess - emphasis on the educated. Were there other people staring at the same spot that didn't see the same thing? What similar effects have occured in others and what were their circumstances? Been eating any Marmalade from Darkest Peru recently :-) I'd also go so far as to say your default position should be skepticism, because the human brain demonstrably will create narratives and patterns where there aren't actually any to be found (see lucky streak: gambling for example).

Personally I see nothing less amazing in attributing overwhelming, life-changing experiences such as this to the brain as to an exterior entity. Perhaps more amazing - as it becomes about your human capabilities rather than someone/something else's.
posted by Sparx at 5:08 PM on December 20, 2005


I'm pretty sure Peruvian marmalade....I assume you're referring to curare... would only serve to paralyze your diaphragm.

on second thought, I suppose that would clear this whole thing right up. :D
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:12 PM on December 20, 2005


I'd like to add my thanks to Baby_Balrog for a fascinating (and gutsy) comment. The whole issue of believability reminds me of a philosophical discussion I read somewhere that pointed out how absurd it is to claim humans aren't conscious. You can believe that about other humans, but no one can believe it about themself. Similarly, you can doubt anyone else's mystical experiences, but not your own—not if they carry that air of undeniable facticity.

I'm not sure if I envy you, but I'm impressed.
posted by languagehat at 5:39 PM on December 20, 2005


Marmalade from Darkest Peru
posted by Sparx at 5:51 PM on December 20, 2005


Whoops: stuffed that up.

Marmalade from Darkest Peru
posted by Sparx at 6:33 PM on December 20, 2005


Personally, it strikes me as political correctness gone mad, but - grudgingly - I will admit that millions upon millions of untimely deaths might not add up to the big fucking chuckle-fest I first assumed it would. -- the quidnunc kid

Oh...don't be so hard on yourself...that 15% left to party with the antichrist could be the really fun people. (I'll bring the spinach dip.)

There is no need to describe it, since you are not looking for it, and do not want to find it. -- unreason

Fantastic display of the compassion of your professed beliefs there. I believe it was in one of Paul's letters to the Corinthians: "Let there be snark unto the unbelievers, for only then shall they see the light."?

Regarding the Leafy Nimoysphere, I am interested and would like to read your pamphlet. In all seriousness, that was a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.
posted by dejah420 at 6:57 PM on December 20, 2005


Until we've actually figured everything out, I think it would probably behoove us not to rule stuff out just because it "sounds crazy."

Damn, you're right. I'm going to resurrect my belief in Terry the pink unicorn who lives on Titan and controls the stock market. Because hey, we haven't figured absolutely everything out yet so obviously ANY MAD SHIT YOU HAPPEN TO LIKE THE SOUND OF is possible, right?

Christ, I despair of humanity, Children. Like silly little children.
posted by Decani at 7:26 PM on December 20, 2005


I'd also go so far as to say your default position should be skepticism, because the human brain demonstrably will create narratives and patterns where there aren't actually any to be found (see lucky streak: gambling for example).

Also: see psychosis, and drug-induced states.

I had all sorts of really amazing religious experiences, when I was crazy and my internal bullshit detector was out to lunch. I saw creatures born in the sky. I was embodied by various spirits. It was amazing and beautiful.... then I got better.

There was also some really, really horrific shit that traumatized me quite badly. At one point, I thought I had killed the sun and all life on earth was going to die because of me.

Brains / minds can come up with some amazing stuff, but that doesn't mean that it's true. It can be beautiful, poetic, spiritual, life-changing, etc, to be sure. And it can all be created within the mind itself. Don't underestimate the kind of mindfuck your own mind can engage in.
posted by beth at 7:52 PM on December 20, 2005


Don't underestimate the kind of mindfuck your own mind can engage in.

your mind can even convince you you've reached heaven when you haven't even died yet ... and many religious people, including jesus, have tried to tell people that

that was a very cool experience, baby balrog ... i recently had a more inconclusive one with about 10 turkey vultures who took a sudden interest in me and great pleasure in showing me their skilled flying ... no messages, i'm afraid ... except a feeling that they were willing to take away anything i didn't want or need

i've felt my life to be somewhat lighter since
posted by pyramid termite at 9:10 PM on December 20, 2005


Well Narnia is out recently, (haven't seen it, don't think I'll like it, but it is pop culture now), and maybe I am gonna bring up that line in Dawn Treader where Aslan says something like "Did you not think I would play by my own rules?"

I don't see why an experience has to start defying laws of nature/physics to be considered spiritual. You think that God wouldn't appear in a way that is in the world? A lot of Christian theology is concerned with saying that he did. (Personally, the shattered twistyness surrounding the void sounds a little bit like things I've seen before/during migraines, but I've never considered them very spiritual. And I don't know about any of the other stuff. That doesn't make me think that it had no physical explanation, and it doesn't make me think it wasn't God either. I don't know either of those things).

The thing that drives me nuts about afterlife is that it becomes the drive of religion. And I can't imagine that, well, working. It seems like somebody who is in a religion out of a selfish desire to gain immortality is the exact image of the person who has the faith to move the mountains, but not love.

Seriously, what that guy up there said. All you would need is faith, if you had enough faith in the existence of the afterlife, a strong enough will and any kind of self-preservation instinct would keep you out of hell. If there is anything out there that seems intuitively incorrect to me, it is this idea.

The only thing I've ever read about the afterlife that I really liked/understood was The Great Divorce. And that might not be that much in line with modern Christian theology, but very briefly, entrance into heaven requires a complete sacrifice of self. Only through that sort of purification/change does one become the sort of being capable of that sort of joy. If you cling to anything else, (pride and a sense of deserving, or expecting heaven were maybe more than one example), you simply aren't able to be there.

And as to whether or not your body will be there, or any kind of other bizarre little practicality questions, I really thought the answer in that book was really good. Everything that a person is must submit to death and be reborn. Nothing, not even the basest part will not be risen if it submits to death.

I don't care for meditation or introspection personally. I don't think it is completely wasteful, and accurate self knowledge has helped me sometimes to understand what I need to do differently. But it always seemed to turn into a kind of self-obsession to me, I don't really like it.
posted by SomeOneElse at 9:14 PM on December 20, 2005


Ah, B_B - this is mara rearing their head. Be strong - for all of us.
posted by Sparx at 3:41 AM on December 21, 2005


Then you understand why I figure you were hallucinating, dreaming, having a weird internal thought process that felt absolutely real to you but wasn't happening except in your imagination.

Well, that explains it for sure. Isn't it just as possible that what you think was certainly a hallucination really WAS a supernatural experience? I mean, shouldn't supernatural experiences come across as hallucinations anyway? How would a supernatural experience be unlike a crazy LSD-induced mindfuck of imagination? There's not such thing as a "normal" supernatural experience.

Last night on Barbara Walter's show Heaven they were talking about near-death experiences and how those that have had them say they saw glimpses of Heaven and so forth. She interviewed several people that have had them, then talked to a few skeptics of course, including a brain scientist. This scientist says the "experience" didn't happen and suggested that through the results of years of testing, experimentation and observation, the near-death experiences people were having were completely and totally due to the fact that their brains were dying... that certain chemical reactions were taking place that made it seem as though the people were in heaven.

Well, no shit their brains are dying. I'm really glad this scientist could see that on the monitor of her "brain-o-graphic coolio-scope". But how does that disprove the existence of Heaven? Maybe what the scientist is seeing on her fancy monitor is a person's normal brain activity shutting down/dying AS THE SOUL LEAVES THE BODY AND GOES TO HEAVEN?
posted by Witty at 5:10 AM on December 21, 2005


Notwithstanding my supportive appreciation for B-B's comments, I must nevertheless confess that I find the phrase "Leafy Nimoysphere" quite funny.
posted by darkstar at 5:14 AM on December 21, 2005


I'd wager a fair proportion of those who have taken LSD have experienced the "life-connection" thing. It's kind of weird but out of all the people I know, those who've dropped acid are amongst the most sane and grounded in reality. They are also the least religious (barring some undefined "spirituality).
posted by longbaugh at 6:21 AM on December 21, 2005


Well, no shit their brains are dying. I'm really glad this scientist could see that on the monitor of her "brain-o-graphic coolio-scope". But how does that disprove the existence of Heaven?

It doesn't disprove anything. It's merely evidence that a far simpler and more rational explanation exists than "they are going to heaven to live with god."

Maybe what the scientist is seeing on her fancy monitor is a person's normal brain activity shutting down/dying AS THE SOUL LEAVES THE BODY AND GOES TO HEAVEN?

MAYBE WE ALL LIVE IN THE MATRIX HOO-HAA WE CAN MAKE UP ANYTHING WE WANT
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:43 AM on December 21, 2005


I don't think that there's anything simple about any of this.
Maybe you're right. Maybe this is the Matrix. I'm not opposed to believing in something like that. But I still don't think that just because one can explain something scientifically that evey question about said event has therefore been answered.

My point is, let's assume that Heaven does indeed exist and everyone that dies goes there. Let's say that when a person is dead and their soul goes to Heaven, the evidence this process leaves behind is "a dying brain with unique chemical characteristics". So what has the scientist proved or disproved? ZIPPY!

So just because the brain is complex and capable of "tricking" people into believing something is happening that actually isn't doesn't mean Baby_Balrog didn't have a spiritual supernatural experience.
posted by Witty at 7:59 AM on December 21, 2005


But I still don't think that just because one can explain something scientifically that evey question about said event has therefore been answered.

Similarly, just because our knowledge of the universe is not complete, that does not mean that that is evidence for the existence of gods.

So just because the brain is complex and capable of "tricking" people into believing something is happening that actually isn't doesn't mean Baby_Balrog didn't have a spiritual supernatural experience.

And it doesn't mean that he did have a supernatural experience.

You have proved nothing, and provided evidence for nothing. Therefore, the default position stands. We might as well stop medicating schizophrenics because hey, maybe, the CIA is mind controlling them. You can't prove they aren't!
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:06 AM on December 21, 2005


I'm not trying to prove anything. I'm just trying to say that at this point, one is just as likely as the other... and that no matter how much you prove to me scientifically, it will never, ever decrease the likelyhood of the existence of God or Heaven. Science will never provide any of us with enlightenment... knowledge, yes... enlightement, no.
posted by Witty at 8:20 AM on December 21, 2005 [1 favorite]


I'm just trying to say that at this point, one is just as likely as the other...

So what you are saying is "the chance of a god existing is fifty percent; the chance of a god not existing is fifty percent." Is that a correct interpretation?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:51 AM on December 21, 2005


I might be hit by a meteor in the next five minutes, or I might not be. So the odds are 50-50, right?
posted by kindall at 8:57 AM on December 21, 2005


So what you are saying is "the chance of a god existing is fifty percent; the chance of a god not existing is fifty percent." Is that a correct interpretation?

Yea, sure. That seems fair. Although, for me personally, the likelyhood of a supernatural existence, God, Heaven, the Matrix (which isn't really supernatural I guess is), the Q Continuum, whatever, is higher than 50%.
posted by Witty at 9:20 AM on December 21, 2005



"And I know enough about neuroscience and metaphysics to know that it wasn’t a brain snafu. -posted by Smedleyman
Even someone who has modeled the function of the inferior frontal gyrus might still be plagued by the monsters that gyrus modeled.
posted by Optimus Chyme "

- Granted. I was trying to express more the reasoning behind the method of manifestation, not the genesis.

However noticing the connectedness between consciousness and objective reality is not a gremlin or boggin of the mind. It’s merely a change in perspective. Perhaps a useful one.

(Certainly the mind generates narrative - but they are often useful narratives - that’s why they are there.)

This is not to argue in favor of some kind of spiritworld beyond the physical, only to notice that the physical world is itself wonderful to a conscious mind.

I’ve always found Christ’s miracles trite in comparison to the workings of the sun for example.
(Seriously - my God it’s trillions of tons of flaming hydrogen (2*1030 kg) in the sky, nine million degrees, is responsible for effectively all the energy and life on earth. What’s one guy walking on water in comparison as a matter of drama?)

Indeed knowing how the brain does what it does is even more intriguing.

I think Optimus Chyme and Witty are arguing mechanics vs. meaning.

Brain chemistry may be a physical feature of loving someone, but it offers no explanation as to meaning or indeed, will to do so. That is - the will to love someone. The will to do anything at all is more than transcriptional regulators, energy from sugars and synapses firing.
Conceptualization f’rinstance.

(I don’t want to get Cartesian, it’d be too long and I’ve had no coffee so my head hurts. )

Consciousness - will - is a feature of objective reality, it is part of it.
Further detail as to how is a matter of science. Meaning, the why of it, is debatable. It’s a matter of consciousness itself and therefore subjective.

I like anchovies. One cannot rationally argue me in to not liking anchovies. I could be argued in to not eating them for any number of reasons (they’re bad for me, etc.) but I will still like, or have liked, the taste.

Certainly some methods of exploring why - some matters of taste - are not as innocuous as liking anchovies. And indeed, many people argue against rational reasons to stop eating them because they like the taste so much.

It’s there that people seem to get hung up.

But in any case, I saw - or outwardly conceptualized - the infinite nature of the universe. As I suspect Baby_Balrog did.

I’m not asserting that everyone should like anchovies. Only that they tasted good to me. Which of course proves only they are indeed edible, not that everyone likes them or should.
Unfortunately a lot of people also find palatable things that aren’t at all nutritious, harmful, or even lethal (Heaven’s Gate comes to mind).

Perhaps I only saw a Hegelian potential infinity. Perhaps it was only secundum quid -infinite in one respect. Perhaps it was a Hobbsian infinity, in that I could not assign limits to it.
Infinity applies to time and space, but I agree with Schopenhauer in that it can also be applied to wisdom, beauty, power and the fullness of being itself.
One can argue I cannot physically see that - but I’m using “see” as a metaphor for apprehend.
At that moment I conceptualized the fullness of being and my place in it. Baby_Balrog’s experience was more personal and self-referencing, but no less a conceptualization of a facet of reality.

I don’t know why anyone would argue that away as a mere aberration in favor of the conceptualizations we employ every day as more valid simply because they are mundane.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:32 AM on December 21, 2005


Yea, sure. That seems fair. Although, for me personally, the likelyhood of a supernatural existence, God, Heaven, the Matrix (which isn't really supernatural I guess is), the Q Continuum, whatever, is higher than 50%.
posted by Witty at 9:20 AM PST on December 21


Why?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:11 AM on December 21, 2005


Because that's what I believe, in my heart I guess. I simply believe that science... biology, physics, chemistry, etc. can't possibly explain everything, ever. I don't believe that the universe and life on Earth or any of this stuff is just a cosmic accident. I don't think it's possible for the universal "equation" to be solved by variables of the same "equation"... variables meaning us, humans.
posted by Witty at 11:23 AM on December 21, 2005


Just a quick question whilst we're opening our hearts to the Great Green Nimoysphere - has anyone here come to believe in one of the "big four" religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism or Hinduism) without parental or social input? If so, could you tell this poor unbeliever what drew you to it?
posted by longbaugh at 11:41 AM on December 21, 2005


Back when I was still trying to cling to religion (many years ago) I thought about converting to Judaism because it seemed the most this-worldly, life-centered, no-bullshit religion (yes, of course it's got its own bullshit, it's a religion, but I was comparing it with the Christianity I was brought up on). But then I gave up on the whole shebang.

I have to say, as impressed as I was with Baby_Balrog's sharing his experiences and the relative lack of nastiness in the public response thereto, I'd be pretty reluctant to discuss my religious experiences in this crowd; cf. "Terry the pink unicorn who lives on Titan" and "silly little children" above.
posted by languagehat at 12:17 PM on December 21, 2005


Thanks lh - to nudge you a little further can I ask why you felt the need for an organised religion? If it's too personal or you wish to avoid the snark then feel free to disregard it. I am just interested in what (if anything) draws an adult to organised worship.
posted by longbaugh at 12:30 PM on December 21, 2005


Well, I wasn't what I'd now call an adult at the time, though I'm sure I felt I was and would have bitterly resented this putdown by a future self. Anyway, I can't really say after all these years, except that having been brought up religious I was still uncomfortable with the idea of a universe with no more meaning than we create for it. I've long gotten past that, but I still respect people who feel the need for it.
posted by languagehat at 3:07 PM on December 21, 2005


OptimusChyme: 'These unprovable truths are facts about the internal world of a person, such as: "I love her", or "I am sad". There is no way to prove or disprove these statements.'
This is false.


I'm not sure that sort of brain scan constitutes 'proof' of an internal emotional state any more than tears on a person's face constituting proof of that person's sadness. There is a correlation between people with tears on their face and people who are sad, but tears cannot be taken as proof.

Will there come a point where we get so good at mapping the brain that we can tell when someone is lying about their own thoughts and feelings? Perhaps it will, and then we can just scan someone who claims to be having a spiritual experience and get to the bottom of this god thing once and for all.
posted by yoz420 at 4:39 PM on December 21, 2005


The beauty of relying on a god of the gaps is that you can just make up some other bullshit so I wouldn't count on it. :)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:43 PM on December 21, 2005


Optimus, you do not grant a distinction between my argument of spirituality as a purely subjective matter, belonging exclusively in the realm of personal experience and some other argument claiming that god is responsible for all things that cannot be understood or explained scientifically?
posted by yoz420 at 12:39 AM on December 22, 2005


I don't ascribe to the brain magical properties that are outside the normal laws of the universe, so no.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:37 AM on December 22, 2005


I cannot believe how this one was achieved.
posted by kiha1972 at 10:19 AM on December 22, 2005


(Huh...I just realized I am the MeFite that lives closest to Optimus...)
posted by darkstar at 4:24 PM on December 22, 2005


(Oops...my error!)
posted by darkstar at 2:29 PM on December 23, 2005


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