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Thursday, December 10, 2009

St. Paul and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.

* Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry with Practical Neurology
* Direct link to download Paper in PDF
SUMMARY: Evidence is offered to suggest a neurological origin for Paul's ecstatic visions. Paul's physical state at the time of his conversion is discussed and related to these ecstatic experiences. It is postulated that both were manifestations of temporal lobe epilepsy.
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24 comments:

akakiwibear said...

I had read the article some time ago – it was published in 1987. A careful read shows much uncertainty in the diagnosis and at best suggests that TLE is a possible explanation …

As few quick points:
1) Where is your much lauded atheist scepticism in all this? If this was the “proof” offered of a miracle would you be as keen to embrace it? (aside; I wonder which medical insurance company would back this one in court?). Come on, epilepsy is a defence from desperation (having to acknowledge Paul’s conversion would be fatal for atheism) and is, in point, an argument from irrelevance.

Given the importance of countering Paul’s conversion one expects the considerable atheist literature on the topic. But it is little more than weak postulation.

2) Irrelevance … yes; so what if it were correct and there was a TLE event? Since the TLE argument is so speculative we should also accept speculation that a powerful religious revelation may be readily mistaken for, or form part of a TLE event, or trigger a TLE event.
Since there is no clear physical interface between body and spirit speculation that an active interface may be manifest in ways akin to a seizure is as valid as what you present.

3) There is considerable related circumstantial evidence that you have to ignore if you want to accept the random TLE for Paul postulation. (a) The time linked revelation to Ananias (you would suggest also a TLE?) (b) the multiple concurrent TLEs of those with Paul on the road (c) the time coincidental regaining of his sight with the meeting with Ananias.

No, HQ, this is an old argument that atheists simply cannot let die.

You are very found of applying numerical analysis in your attempts to refute religious events – why not run the stats for the coincidental events in 3) … having lowered your acceptability threshold to that point I suspect the gunman on the knoll becomes irrefutable.

I tend to liken atheists (if you will pardon the generalisation) to climate change sceptics (yes I can spell it the funny way too). They focus on discrediting the finer points of detail in the theory of climate change (and the current phoo fest over the emails is an example of this) while ignoring the big picture (not looking at all the evidence in context) such as retreating polar ice etc.

Sala kahle -peace

Harlan Quinn said...

hi akakiwibear,
just checking in,
I'll give you a response later.
thanks.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Akakiwibear,
just to let you know, I really enjoy discussing these things with you.
now, on to biznezz,
at best suggests that TLE is a possible explanation
So then TLE or as more recent research suggests, a broad range of neurological disorder is just as likely as Jesus talking to him?

If this was the “proof” offered of a miracle would you be as keen to embrace it?
Miracles have yet to be shown to have actually happened.
Epilepsy happens, and its similar to this.
When i think of possible causes of this type of behavior, epilepsy and miralces come to mind. I know that epilepsy happens more often than miracles, so based on that, its probably epilepsy.

Come on, epilepsy is a defence from desperation and is, in point, an argument from irrelevance.
Why is epilepsy not as likely as a miracle?

2) Irrelevance … yes; so what if it were correct and there was a TLE event? Since the TLE argument is so speculative we should also accept speculation that a powerful religious revelation may be readily mistaken for, or form part of a TLE event, or trigger a TLE event.
So then, generally speaking, at this moment we can expect that people that have these experience are not likely to have any neurological problems? Generally speaking, at this moment that these types of experiences are unlikely to be caused by neurological problems?

Since there is no clear physical interface between body and spirit speculation that an active interface may be manifest in ways akin to a seizure is as valid as what you present.
So seizures are just as likely to be manifestations of communication from god as not?
And since there is no clear physical interface between body and spirit, that makes it likely that one exists?

3) There is considerable related circumstantial evidence that you have to ignore if you want to accept the random TLE for Paul postulation. (a) The time linked revelation to Ananias (you would suggest also a TLE?) (b) the multiple concurrent TLEs of those with Paul on the road
I'm sorry I don't follow this, could you fill it out a bit more please?
If you're talking about pauls conversion being unlikely, it says that paul was already "kicking at the goad" and if he was as horrible as it was reported, its likely that he never felt good about it in the first place. Do you think soldiers like to go out and kill people? Soldiers wish the enemy would just surrender. Having an experience like that, not knowing anything about what causes TLE, and brain damage, could very well cause his personality to change to the degree that he is preoccupied with theological and moral problems, which is symptomatic of a percentage of TLE.

Harlan Quinn said...

(c) the time coincidental regaining of his sight with the meeting with Ananias.
you don't take the bible literally generally, so why would you take "in a moment" literally? The epilepsy literature says that blindness returns over time, three days is not odd, but three days is a symbolic number in scripture, appearing all over the place so it probably wasn't three days. I can accept that his eyesite came back to him the same day ananias laid hands on him. There is documentation on "blind site" where the brain sees but the mind is not conscious of it. Watch that "phantoms of the brain video" for more information. Ananias and the laying on of hands could very well have given him the emotional jolt his brain needed to bring his sight into consciousness.

You are very found of applying numerical analysis in your attempts to refute religious events – why not run the stats for the coincidental events in 3) … having lowered your acceptability threshold to that point I suspect the gunman on the knoll becomes irrefutable.
statistical analysis these days on that type of religious experience correlates strongly to neurological disorder. Maybe in the first century it didn't, but I doubt it.

nice try with poisoning the well with the climate sceptic analogy.
A TLE expert thinks pauls experience is related to TLE, and you don't. Whose viewpoint should I go with....[tap, tap, tap, on my chin as I look pensively off into space], i'll go with the expert.

akakiwibear said...

Hq, you dodge the issues
So then TLE or as more recent research suggests, a broad range of neurological disorder is just as likely as Jesus talking to him? No I said the article suggests that Paul may have suffered from TLE, that is all.
Miracles have yet to be shown to have actually happened again you dodge, I asked if you would accept this level of proof that a miracle did occur?

Generally speaking, at this moment that these types of experiences are unlikely to be caused by neurological problems? again no! What I said is that in based on what you consider a reasonable argument it would be as reasonable to suggest that an RE manifested as a TLE event. Note the causal direction of the relationship. In those cases a diagnosis of neurological disease may be inappropriate.

So seizures are just as likely to be manifestations of communication from god as not?, get with the programme, in some cases, the causal driver mattters!

... ould you fill it out a bit more please?. Certainly. My point is that Pauls revelation was not an isolated event - I listed the 3 additional related events. For the religious objective to have been achieved all 1+3 events needed to occur. So your expalantion needs to account for all 4 and their relative timing.

I would have thought that Paul's TLE was apparently shared by others would of itself have caused you to doubt the TLE postulation.

I again ask where your much vaunted atheist scepticism is? You have clearly not applied to the TLE postulation.

I can accept that his eyesite came back to him the same day ananias laid hands on him. ... and put it down to the healing power of Ananias and the laying on of hands ... you are moving in the right direction ... this shows an openess of mind I generally find missing in your reasoning.

Be sceptical about what you read and be open to all alternatives until they are finally and completely dismissed.

A TLE expert thinks pauls experience is related to TLE, read the article carefully and you will have to agree that at best he says is that with a lot of supposition it could be an explanation........... You again seem to be seeing only what you want to find to re-inforce your views. You are not open to all the alternatives, you have allowed your bias to intrude on your scholarship.

statistical analysis these days on that type of religious experience correlates strongly to neurological disorder rubbish! What it says is that in up to 3% of events similar to TLE there is some religious overtone. There is no attempt to differentiate between a medical condition inducing the TLE and a spiritually induced RE which has the same symptoms as a TLE.

An analogy would be that a gun shot wound is a cause of death, therefore strangulation is a form of gunshot wound.... come now,

A bit of a rush, sorry if it could have don with a good edit.

sala kahle -peace

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi akakiwibear,
for the moment, just note asking for some clarification.

1. you obviously think Paul had a visit from Jesus, but do you think paul had a seizure as well at the same time? Why or why not?

2. My point is that Pauls revelation was not an isolated event - I listed the 3 additional related events.
Can you list the chapter and verse of those other three additional events, please? I'm having a hard time following that.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Akakiwibear,
I asked if you would accept this level of proof that a miracle did occur?
I don't know, show me a recent one. Something from 1987 on would be good.

What I said is that in based on what you consider a reasonable argument it would be as reasonable to suggest that an RE manifested as a TLE event.
hq said "So seizures are just as likely to be manifestations of communication from god as not?",

akakiwi said "get with the programme, in some cases, the causal driver matters!"
so which caused which? I'm guessing you'll say the RE caused the TLE.

But since we know that a physical malfunction in the brain will cause RE and TLE, is it not equally as likely that pauls RE and his TLE both were caused by a physiological problem in the brain?
If not, then to show that paul was not an unverifiable special case, could you point to some recent verifiable instances where a religious experience of that sort was not caused by a physiological problem?

I would have thought that Paul's TLE was apparently shared by others would of itself have caused you to doubt the TLE postulation.
oh i think you are talking about the others hearing and seeing the light and voices right? I have a spreadsheet in my googledocs on that I'd like to present to you if that's what you intend to say. I've got 12 bible versions of that scripture and some metrics about how closely they agree. See, there is some ambiguity in the translations how the original word translates between "hear" and "understood". In some cases, the other guys did not hear anything. In others they did not understand. Surely you can see that Understand carries with it the implicit presumption that there was something to hear. Not hearing means "nothing to hear".


I can accept that his eyesite came back to him the same day ananias laid hands on him. ... and put it down to the healing power of Ananias and the laying on of hands ... you are moving in the right direction ... this shows an openess of mind I generally find missing in your reasoning.
funny, nice try, but thats a straw man. You probably knew that already but were just funnin with the old quinnster.

Be sceptical about what you read and be open to all alternatives until they are finally and completely dismissed.
I am, in fact, i put my prayer free problem solving procedure in the sidebar and if you notice, I'm following the procedure.

A TLE expert thinks pauls experience is related to TLE, read the article carefully and you will have to agree that at best he says is that with a lot of supposition it could be an explanation........... You again seem to be seeing only what you want to find to re-inforce your views.
I wholeheartedly agree that I can't get a definitive "pauls vision was a TLE" out of this argument, but I can reasonably expect that I can get a "Pauls vision and TLE was just as likely to be caused by a physical disorder as Jesus", which is all I'm aiming for.

You are not open to all the alternatives, you have allowed your bias to intrude on your scholarship.
not if you consider that there is more UNEQUIVOCAL evidence for religions experience caused by pathology than by spirits.

My bias is to established knowledge not speculation and equivocal events.

Harlan Quinn said...

"statistical analysis these days on that type of religious experience correlates strongly to neurological disorder"
rubbish! What it says is that in up to 3% of events similar to TLE there is some religious overtone. There is no attempt to differentiate between a medical condition inducing the TLE and a spiritually induced RE which has the same symptoms as a TLE.

you evidently haven't see the other videos associated with this article.
Religious Experience and Epilepsy
Check those out. They're fun. One of them is a video of a neurologist explaining her religious experience caused by a stroke.

A bit of a rush, sorry if it could have don with a good edit.
no problem, i appreciate whatever you can contribute.

akakiwibear said...

The 3 events related to Paul’s revelation, itself the first event. There are other references, but these will do:
1) Acts 9:5 – Pauls revelation
2) Acts 9:7 - multiple witnesses
3) Acts 9:10 – Ananias’ revelation
4) Acts 9:17,18 – Ananias restores Paul’s sight
While you pick at the edges of each event in isolation – and by your own admission I wholeheartedly agree that I can't get a definitive "pauls vision was a TLE" out of this argument it seems to be picking; you ignore the central theme.

My allusion to the climate change sceptics was not just me being unkind, there is a parallel.

Let me put this into a personal context for you. During my atheist phase I suspect I was much like you seizing every article that backed my position. What brought me to theism was Paul’s conversion. Why?

Partly, the chain of events defies belief as mere coincidence. For instance Ananias wanted to avoid Paul at all costs, he had a change of heart.

Also, the discrediting of the individual events is not conclusive by any means and smacks of argument from desperation.

Aside from the TLE argument I put your statistical analysis of the text of the multiple witnesses into that category your. (by the way I notice you have still avoided addressing the probability of all 4 events occurring together to a common purpose).

I shall label it my ‘climates change syndrome’ and use your stats approach as an example to illustrate my point:

First you pick at the edges drawing I believe stretched conclusions by focusing on the minutia, like the climate change emails:

- I've got 12 bible versions is probably a valid statistical analysis but without substance. Why would you expect 12 translations to be identical? Even the translators would find it tough to embark on a new translation knowing it would be identical ….

- Even within a translation the story is related for different purposes and at different times (Acts 26 is telling the story to Agrippa for example and is the least detailed account). Why would you expect each account to be the same? Have you never related an event differently to different people at different times? Does this make your accounts statistically unreliable, guess so, does it mean you dreamed up the event … guess you would have to say ‘yes’.

Then you ignore the context, like glaciers melting. Paul was not alone at the time. He says others shared parts of the experience. Had the others not shared the experience do you not think their denials would have quashed the story early on?

Or, when you said: I can accept that his eyesite came back to him the same day ananias laid hands on him., but did you ask why Ananis was there in the first place? Also how come you accept the say day but not the same time? Being selective?

Within the context, what is the significance of Ananias restoring his sight? Would Paul’s conversion have been accepted by the local Christians without 2,3&4 above? I doubt it. So back to a random set of events? Don’t think so.

Sala kahle - peace

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi akakiwi,
first off I'd like to thank you for your continued dialog. I'm going to add this do Decembers featured presentations. I had no idea it would generate this much discussion. And then I'd like to compliment you on your use of loaded language. You certainly do know how to use rhetoric to try to "color" your opponents argument and minimize the importance and force of their argument.

"pick at the edges of an event", the allusion to the the climate sceptics, "during my atheist phase I ...was much like you seizing every article that backed up my position", "focusing on minutia"

clap, clap, well done.

now on to bizness.
I suppose this will be a multipart response so please keep checking back.
since you seem to keep repeating this, I'll tackle this one first.
in my first rejoinder, I'm going to address your critique of my "statistical approach" by addressing why, when doing statistics, you need to ensure your data accurately reflects real world states.

The statistical analysis spreadsheet I was talking about was how closely the text was internally consistent, not a statistical analysis of how likely all those events are to have happened together. I was relying on the opinion of the experts for that. That 3% number you quoted earlier, was valid for TLE in 1987 I suppose, but over the past 20 years, the number of pathologies that have been identified that will produce "religious experiences" and experiences of the sort paul had has increased. In one of those videos I directed you to the number was quoted as 40%. I'll re-watch the video and reference it by name and timeline so you can jump right to it.
to be continued...

Harlan Quinn said...

my goodness, i forgot to add my favorite instance of your use of loaded language.
Characterizing the TLE of St. Paul as "Desperate"!
If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, its probably a duck.
;-)

Harlan Quinn said...

akakiwibear, i added a link to your blog in my gratitude section.

to start my rejoinder I want to do something (hopefully) neat with a spreadsheet. If I don't have anything up by the time you expect, please be patient.

akakiwibear said...

emotionally charged language, me? never! you are too sensitive by far. Pity really because it provided you with an opportunity to avoid replying to the point.

About the spreadsheet, I know it was going to look at internally consistency, hence my comments.

To save you the effort on your spreadsheet why not address my comments. - I've got 12 bible versions is probably a valid statistical analysis but without substance. Why would you expect 12 translations to be identical? Even the translators would find it tough to embark on a new translation knowing it would be identical ….

- Even within a translation the story is related for different purposes and at different times (Acts 26 is telling the story to Agrippa for example and is the least detailed account). Why would you expect each account to be the same? Have you never related an event differently to different people at different times? Does this make your accounts statistically unreliable, guess so, does it mean you dreamed up the event … guess you would have to say ‘yes’.


sala kahle - peace

P.S Thanks for the link, now I guess I will have to go and post something! I suspect you of trying to distract me!

Harlan Quinn said...

okay, I'll do that,
check back this evening new zealand time.

I'll work on my hypothesis matrix spreadsheet in the background, and i'll clean up the other spreadsheet I was talking about and see If I can't get it posted here somehow.

I'm working on integrating blogger, googledocs and googlesites for more presentation options. It seems like it should be pretty easy.

Harlan Quinn said...

"I've got 12 bible versions" is probably a valid statistical analysis but without substance. Why would you expect 12 translations to be identical? Even the translators would find it tough to embark on a new translation knowing it would be identical ….

- Even within a translation the story is related for different purposes and at different times (Acts 26 is telling the story to Agrippa for example and is the least detailed account). Why would you expect each account to be the same? Have you never related an event differently to different people at different times? Does this make your accounts statistically unreliable, guess so, does it mean you dreamed up the event … guess you would have to say ‘yes’.


Normally I don't. When we are talking about normal information, like a news website or a blog for example, we can make some probabilistic baseline assumptions about the characteristics and quality of the text right at the start. Using the CNN "Italian PM Got Punched in the face" as a current example, within hours CNN updated the story with new information. It was quite bayesian in its character.
- at the outset they got information from a trusted source
- the trusted source got it from expereince or from a trusted source
- no malice intended but it was mistaken
- they monitored and reviewed, and reassessed, and revised
- they changed the story based on more recent and more accurate information
- the dawn of the "information age" gave us technology unavailable previously that enables us to get close to accurate closer to real time as possible, and it enables us to have access to more information for cross-checking and triangulating our previous information and allows us to quickly revise it.

these are the new principles

Harlan Quinn said...

the old principles of pauls time were that
- someone experienced it,
- passed it on by word of mouth, no telling how many times,
- a universal principle of communication is that information is changed everytime it is transmitted.
- Luke was at least second hand information

1. - we depend on the person experiencing the event to GATHER THE DATA ACCURATELY
---- and it can only possibly REPRESENT the event TO SOME DEGREE of accuracy
-------- so the information about the event has deviated from the original at the collection

2. - we depend on the person experiencing the event to TRANSMIT the data.
---- using our general principle of communication we know that the data will DEVIATE from the original

so about pauls conversion, we have the first instance of deviation when he told his story, or when someone witnessing it told his story. We can expect DEVIANCE between the story of PAUL and the Witness to deviate.

we have two deviant version of pauls story

and we have Lukes story which in principle we can expect to have deviated from either Pauls original or the Witnesses original version.

so we have deviance in the representation of the information
from Paul
1. at the gathering
2. at the transmission
2a. more deviance if from one language to another


of from witness
1. at the gathering
2. at the transmission
2a. more deviance if from one language to another

and from Luke
1. at the gathering
2. and at the transmission
2a. more deviance if from one language to another


meaning that we don't know where luke got the story, but we do know that by the time we read it, in principle, we can expect to have deviated at least four times (2 iterations of gathering and transmission) from either channel (paul or witness), then we have to consider deviance in the interpretation of the reader.

When faced with these problems, they are normally corrected for by using baseline comparisons. Where do the baseline comaprisons come from?
From established knowledge.
if you want to say that Pauls story should be taken at face value, then you have to ignore common principles of communication, and have to accept the multiple deviant stories as each being accurate, correct and reflecting real world states, if not then you have to admit that pauls conversion can't be taken at face value

It is fundamentally an information quality problem.

and I have decided to use Paul as QuIRPs poster boy to demonstrate how religion has an information quality problem.

You should stay on my A$$ in the future to keep me straight.
;-)

akakiwibear said...

You should stay on my A$$ in the future to keep me straight I fear I have failed you here, clearly you have gone crook on this one ;)

There is a real problem with your approach. You choose to dismiss the account of Pauls conversion effectively because it is hearsay. Unlike the Hindenburg, no pictures.

Yet Paul went about preaching and writing letters. So you need to explain when, how and why he chose to leave his job as persecutor and join the band of the persecuted. Somewhere there has to have be a conversion, does there not?

If you deny his conversion, then of necessity you have to deny his latter life. It really is quite simple.

You invoke abstract theory. It seems at odds with reality – he did have a conversion experience, even if you can’t accept the accounts of it.

Try looking at it from a common sense perspective, simple has always worked best for me. Might the hearsay not have got the central elements of his conversion correct. After all the account lacks the detail that might have got twisted in the telling … how many in the party, what was the horse called etc.

Try this example. Read the various account of
<a href="http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/51088,people,sport,alberto-contador-destroys-the-field-in-tour-de-frances-toughest-stage-lance-armstrong-bradley-wiggins” > stage 17 of the tour</a>. You will have to ignore the pictures, but each account is very different, but gets the key aspects right like who won. Now this stage will be discussed oer a beer in the pub for years to come. I expect the drama will change, the heat, the size of the crowd, Contador’s team play etc but the hill, the pain and the winner will stay.

Sala kahle -peace

Harlan Quinn said...

I think your link had a space in it between the last quote and the "greater than" symbol.

I don't deny paul had a conversion. Its consistent with religious experiences caused by pathology.

your example appears to be a great one, i'll check it out.

One thing you are not considering in your example of the pub, party what-have-you is pauls interpretation of what was going on with him.

2000 years ago, they didn't have the established knowledge to be able ask someone and probably get the right answer to "why do I feel like i've been taken up to heaven and heard voices that I can't repeat?"
The right answer to an acquaintance that asks you "why do I feel like i've been to taken up to heaven and heard voices that I can't repeat?" is
"Lets get you to a doctor".

this falls into the section of my problem solving method called "when was the last time this happened?"
"is it still happening?"
"have I ever seen anything like this?
"what do I know about it?"
"what do my peers know about about?"
"what do experts say about it?"

Saying it was Jesus really is an unwarranted conclusion if you wouldn't think it was jesus if your neighbor told you the same thing.

akakiwibear said...

oops on the link - by the way did you identify who actually won stage 17 ... not Contador?

A quick reply is all I can manage for a maybe few days.

REs caused by pathology are simulations. They explain where in the brain an RE occurs, that is a big step towards proving that REs are real. What the simulations don't do is explain why some people have an RE or what causes it ... sure they can simulate but ...

The right answer to an acquaintance that asks you "why do I feel like i've been to taken up to heaven and heard voices that I can't repeat?" is
"Lets get you to a doctor".
.... only for an atheist

Your problem solving methodology is only as good as its application. If you start off limiting the range of outcomes you are likely to get a answer that does nothing more than confirm your starting preconceptions. When looking to spiritual matters one should use the appropriate resources.

"when was the last time this happened?" see religious texts

"is it still happening?" ask spiritual people
"have I ever seen anything like this? am I limited by my own experiences?
"what do I know about it?" read the religious/spiritual texts
"what do my peers know about about?" are your peers an appropriate reference point on this topic
"what do experts say about it?" ... experts from the related disciplines like theology rather. I would certainly not ask an evolutionary biologist unless they had acquired the relevant expertise outside of their main field.

In considering pauls interpretation of what was going on with him. I suggest that Paul is the foremost source.

I ask him what he experienced = Revelation
I would ask him if there were witnesses = yes but did not fully share
I would ask him if he knew of others who had similar experiences (perhpas more common then than now) & i would seek out others who had had similar experiences - Ananias
I would certainly ask about similar events in the past, read the relevant documents and accounts.



Paul had a conversion, we agree on that.
Should we ask why?
Should we ask why Ananais went to see Paul?

You argue random event.

I argue RE and I bring out the internally consistent evidence around the event.

Sala kahle –peace

P.S. I may not be able to return for a while but will follow when I can

Harlan Quinn said...

no problem, i appreciate whattever you can contribute.
I'll reply to this as soon as I can.
take care, be safe. see ya when you get back.
maybe by that time i'll have my googledocs integrated to expand the blogs capabilities.

Boz said...

akakiwibear said:
"
Boz, you put it a bit simplistically, but adding the context of the religious objective achieved by the train of events I have yet to find an alternative substantive explanation of the of the four events together.

(1)Paul/Saul had a vision in which he describes seeing jesus.
(2)All of his companions also had an aural-only vision at the same time
(3)Ananias also had a vision of jesus
(4) Paul was miraculously healed by ananias


Yes the events form part of the weight of evidence I accept as convincing that God exists.
"

(4)So, these four points come from Acts, which was written in 80-100, which is roughly 50 years after the events , by an anonymous, non-eyewitness author (though scholarly opinion is divided). Now, Acts writes that Paul was cured in a miracle by ananias. If we are to accept that this was a miracle, with we must also accept other miracle claims with a similar level of evidece. For example, Muhammad split the moon in two, Muhammad rode to heaven on a pegasus, Kabir was ressurected, and the hindu milk miracle. Given that the implications of these miracles contradict each other, our criteria for accepting a miracle is too low.

So, we cannot accept that paul was miraculously cured by ananias. He either got better on his own, or his blindness did not happen. Do you agree?

---

(3)Similarly for ananias' vision. If we accept that this story is true, we must also accept that Muhammad had in-depth discussion with the archangel gabriel, and Rama is the seventh incatnation of the deity Vishnu, otherwise we are hypocrites.


While it is extremely unlikely, but still remotely possible that ananias had a genuine discussion with yahweh, the story is extremely likely to be either made-up, or an exaggeration of a natural event, such as a dream or hallucination or verbal message. Do you agree?

---

(2)Similarly for "All of his companions also had an aural-only vision at the same time".

---

The only events in this story that are externally corroborated are paul having a vision and paul converting, as he writes about it in 1Gal.

So, the events (2), (3), and (4) cannot provide evidence for yahweh, as they cannot be shown to have a divine origin.

Harlan Quinn said...

Boz!
I'm happy to see you!

Akakiwibear,
the calvary...er...cavalry has arrived!

I forgot to respond to you with something substantive, I will shortly.

in the mean time...

here is a link to what distracted me. Its a presentation I made and embedded in a blog post comparing paul to neurologist jill bolte taylor, who had a similar spiritual experience when she had a stroke. you can find the video easily from the "religious experience" label in Decembers featured presentations panel.
heres the link to that presentation
click here and also hidden away is the draft of that spreadsheet I was telling you about here
they are still in draft, thats why they are hidden in 2004.

actually I'm working on a project (an have been for a year and half) which will emerge from this blog on a comprehensive refutation of romans five. This blog gives me a place to try out ideas.

my project to refute romans five started with my article at DC Disqualifying Adam and Eve, reproduced here.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi akakiwibear, if finally did justice to your comment.
REs caused by pathology are simulations. They explain where in the brain an RE occurs, that is a big step towards proving that REs are real. What the simulations don't do is explain why some people have an RE or what causes it ... sure they can simulate but ...
How can you tell the difference?
When I see a wooden duck decoy, I can see that it is a simulation because I know where to find the real one to get a look and a comparison. If all the real RE's look like simulated RE's how can we differentiate?

The right answer to an acquaintance that asks you "why do I feel like i've been to taken up to heaven and heard voices that I can't repeat?" is
"Lets get you to a doctor". .... only for an atheist

Then you are likely to misdiagnose pathology for some spiritual manifestation.
When I was a christian, I knew a minister that had a wife that was withdrawn, constantly fidgeted and talked to herself. Since I became a friend of the family, I asked him about her and he said she talks to angels.
I bought it until I lost my faith, after looking into it, I'd say she should see a doctor about schizophrenia.
That is outright negligence.

Your problem solving methodology is only as good as its application. If you start off limiting the range of outcomes you are likely to get a answer that does nothing more than confirm your starting preconceptions. When looking to spiritual matters one should use the appropriate resources.

Neither one of us considers this a visitation from Pleidian do we? Its one of the gabillion possibilities we cross off before we get started. We look for what we know and then we find whats missing and we try to fill it in. I don't start with a presumption that it wasn't Jesus, I start with the presumption that it might something else. I put Jesus on the back burner as a "SPECIAL EVENT" and do an inventory of what i know about the description in the text. Neurological pathology causes it. So why is it Jesus and not a neurological pathology when we know and have a causal evidence that physiological mechanisms can cause it. All I'm saying is that if we are justified in saying it was jesus, surely then we are justified in saying that it is equally as likely to have been a pathology.

Harlan Quinn said...

"when was the last time this happened?" see religious texts
what religious texts? will any religion do? If so I have a man who thinks he's a manifestation of Krishna, in other words, he thinks he's god on earth, right
here right now.

"is it still happening?" ask spiritual people
So then, as I suspected you don't know any more than I do.

"have I ever seen anything like this? am I limited by my own experiences?
yes because what we are trying to do is corroborate claims made elsewhere, and if you have personal experience, it needs to be considered.

"what do I know about it?" read the religious/spiritual texts
what we are trying to do is corroborate claims made in religious spritual texts. we are trying ot break out of the circular self-referential legitimzation that has been going on unquestioned for thousands of years. This is the information age. We can quantify and measure the quality of information.


"what do my peers know about about?" are your peers an appropriate reference point on this topic
good question, If one of them is a psychiatrist, which he is, and he says, "yea it looks like TLE, but we can't diagnose from here, we have to give it the benefit of the doubt" and he's a christian, then he's biased so hes not ideal.  He relies on the text and the trust GIVEN to it traditionally. We are trying to assess whether the trust is warranted or not.

"what do experts say about it?" ... experts from the related disciplines like theology rather. I would certainly not ask an
evolutionary biologist unless they had acquired the relevant expertise outside of their main field.
Experts on TLE and TLE suffers in the Epilepsy.com forums says that this type of experience can happen due to a pathology. Are theologians qualified to say if it could be a pathology or not?

In considering pauls interpretation of what was going on with him. I suggest that Paul is the foremost source.


I agree, but he we have to consider that he was not a doctor, and doctors at that time had no idea what neurological pahtologies entailed. So his interpretation was based on 2000 year old knowledge. Not likely to be accurate any more that Newton is in relativity or einstien is in quantum physics.


Paul had a conversion, we agree on that
Should we ask why?
of course. it was so odd that someone like paul should suddenly turncoat.


Should we ask why Ananais went to see Paul?

Wasn't Ananais entitled to as curious as we are?

You argue random event.

I argue RE and I bring out the internally consistent evidence around the event.
The evidence just as easily fits pathology, especially since, like our duck, we know were we can find more of them.

 

served since Nov. 13, 2009