I get this sometimes from believers when I ask how they actually interact with their deity. Now, most people interact with reality with their five senses. But for these believers, they describe it as some sort of “feeling”, or thoughts that just seem to pop into their head. So basically, they are hinting that there is some sort of sixth sense by which they are able to communicate with their God.
Now, I don’t want to discount this right away, because we do have technology now that makes communication seem almost magic. First radio, then TV, then cell phones, and now even bluetooth devices seem to communicate magically.
But the problem is, obviously, we know how radio, TV, cell phones, and Bluetooth works, and even if we didn’t, at the very least a lay person like myself can test it. We know Bluetooth works because I put that thingy on my ear and turn it on, and I can hear someone saying something, and it always is the message that was intended to relay. I meet the other person, I get accomplished and deliver what was asked, whatever. Communication.
If we are going to call communication anything, it’s the passing of a distinguishable message. Radio static is not communication. It’s also nice when the message is not only distinguishable, but understood as well. This is called effective communication. I’m fine with a god using a yet-undiscovered or unobserved communication form, as long as they’re communicating and doing so effectively. But apparently, this omniscient deity hasn’t figured out how to send an ungarbled message.
Christianity is like an army with no generals. Lots and lots of proud adherents, absolutely no direction or guidance. Political issues, personal hygiene, community involvement, relationships, you name it and there is no consensus. Certainly, some groups have a majority consensus within their group, but other groups feel quite differently and individual beliefs within the group are also spread. This is not what we would expect if we were in direct communication with a god.
It reminds me of the 4 or 5 Republican candidates that were all told by god that they would be the next President. SMH
Prayer studies are another fun way to identify the utter failure of this super secret communication technology as well. The Templeton Foundation, a religious organization, funded a three-year prayer study where heart surgery patients were prayed for. It was a legitimate, scientific, double blind study. The foundation was all too happy to fund the project, hoping to finally put to rest the uncertainty about the power of prayer. You may or may not have noticed, but the Templeton Foundation hasn’t said much about this in the decade since the results were announced….
Their silence probably has to do with the fact that the group that was unknowingly being prayed for and the group not prayed for had the same results. The third group, prayed for and knew they were being prayed for, had slightly WORSE results. Thank you to the Templeton Foundation for scientifically confirming my bumper sticker: “Nothing fails like prayer!”
So at best, the messages are garbled, indistinguishable, and useless. But is there a chance there is still a message? To answer this, let’s figure out what we know about the brain.
We know the brain is a function of chemical reactions and electricity. We also know the brain is very, very compartmentalized. Vision, for example, isn’t a single process center. Instead, it is split into various factions that deal with the input and the processing. There is a specific part of the brain that deals with recognizing faces, and if that part of the brain gets damaged, the victim may still be able to see and read and handle objects with fine precision, but they can’t recognize faces.
Just like damaging a vision center, damaging a memory center in the brain eliminates those types of memory associated with that center. Damaging the speech center renders the subject unable to speak. It’s not that the words are there but they can’t get them out, they literally are unable to formulate the words in their brain. And we all should be aware that Alzheimers robs victims of their basic personality, based on a degenerative brain disease.
By way of MRIs, we can also watch brain function in action. Inputs from the senses deal with specific parts of the brain, and memory and thoughts are other parts of the brain. If someone reports having a religious experience while being observed, those religious sensations map the same as internal thoughts and emotions. We therefore have a pretty good clue that religious experience isn’t another sense, but just internal thoughts.
And since we know all of this about brain function, this is what Christians are asking us to believe. First, that sensory inputs and processing is done by the brain but the brain also communicates with an undetected god goo that can also communicate back to the brain and if it weren’t for the undetected god goo the brain wouldn’t function. Second, damaging specific parts of the brain can eliminate your personality and ability to identify people, speak, and remember, but damage the whole brain at death and suddenly you can see your dead grandma and talk and laugh with her about the good old days.
Your brain makes you who you are. Your claims of communication fail. Your brain is not a telephone to your deity, please quit pretending it is.
The Spartan Atheist