X-Message-Number: 20162
Date: Tue, 24 Sep 2002 19:27:36 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Induced Spiritual Experiences

>Message #20148
>Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 15:59:18 EDT
><<the claim is, in your analogy, that we can easily produce physical
>evidence of both natural and synthetic rubies. Can you produce
>incontrovertible evidence of the existence of God?>>
>d:  I see.  You misread my analogy.  my claim is that the existence of
>synthetic rubies has no bearing on the existence of natural rubies.  thus,
>the existence of induced spiritual experiences has no bearing on the
>existence of non-induced spiritual experiences.

The ruby analogy can be modified slightly, however, to have more relevance. 
Imagine a chemist who has synthesized rubies and studied their properties 
and knows them well. For him the "ruby" is aluminum oxide with certain 
impurities. Next, say this chemist encounters someone who claims to have 
"hardened blood drops from the gods" which, he says, are "not any earthly 
substance at all." The chemist naturally wants to see these "unearthly" 
things. He can't actually do that, it turns out, but is allowed to look at 
many photographs, read many reports, and so on. Though no chemical analysis 
was attempted on the relics, certain tests were done, such as checking the 
specific gravity, color, hardness, behavior at different temperatures, and 
so on. All the tests show basic similarities to synthetic rubies. Assume 
also that matches were not as good with other known minerals or rocks. The 
stones were found in the ground, it is said, and reasonable evidence is 
presented. The chemist concludes the stones are probably natural rubies, 
that is to say, an earthly material after all, not something beyond 
scientific explanation.

So, by analogy, we apparently have something produced artificially that is 
similar in basic ways to certain "spiritual" experiences. The artificial 
experiences are monitored as carefully as we know how, and seem to be 
consequences of certain brain events, nothing more. It is reasonable, then, 
to conjecture that this also applies to the "spiritual" experiences, which 
are out of reach of such analysis.

>indeed, even the induced experiences may be authentic spiritual experiences,
>just as an authentic breeze may be noticed when a switched-off fan is
>switched on.

It would be interesting for you to comment on how induced experiences would 
be "authentic" as you say. What, other than the straightforward brain 
events that appear to explain them, must necessarily be involved?

Mike Perry

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