This is one of the most important tricks to deal with. We have all heard that refrain "that's subjective." they use that every time anything experiential comes up. Of course they do because that basic reason to bleieve in God is experiential. God must be sought in the heart, the heart (meaning the inner most psychological aspect of the will) is the ground upon which the realization of God's reality happens. If one does not seek God in the heart one cannot find God. Thus the atheist first and most important target is the experiential realm. "That's subjective, you can't trust feelings." "That's not scinece." "Science is math and certifiably and stuff you can prove. you can't prove experiences." That is basically the whole point of the atheist ideology, becuase once they get you to doubting your heart and doubting your ability to seek God through experience you might as well pack it in. It makes no more sense to say "that's subjective, it must be dismissed" than it makes to say "there no scientific proof for God." God is not a scientific question so it makes no sense to demand scientific proof. By the same token, the realization of God has to be experiences as a feeling of utter dependence so it makes no sense to say "that's subjective." It makes less sense when we realize that objectivity is a pretense and there is no other point of view that humans have to approach anything form but the subjective. Dismissing the question of God on the basis of subjectivity makes no more sense than dismissing God on the basis of scinece.
Of course what we have to do is to realize that science is not the only kind of knowledge. This is what I demonstrated with the three posts on the limitations of scinece. I will offer three major arguments:
I. Objectivity is a pretense
II. Experiential and subjective knowledge is not always unreliable
III. Global knowledge
The great irony here is that the atheists are using objectivity to justify their subjective world view. There is no way they can deny that their world view (atheism) is subjective. It's a world view. By definition world view are subjective. When they talk about their former experiences in the faiths they fell away from they are speaking of feelings, experiences, these are subjective. Those subjective feelings are reliable. You can't tell them what they experienced. Suddenly experiences aren't so bad when they are atheist experiences. The irony is what to back the pretense that because they cheer lead of objectivity that makes them objective, so their world view is factual, they only believe what is based upon by empirical science. So their view s not subjective it's factual. Of cousre the brighter one's among them will stop and reflect that all world views are subjective by definition. Their world cannot be objective if it is a world view. Something is wrong here.
We all know that human beings cannot be objective. Atheists will try to press and demand that scientific facts are "objective facts." Facts can't be objective becasue they are not subjects. Facts don't do the perceiving, people do. Human perception is subjective. The idea that we can get outside of our perceptions and check them is the empiricists dilemma or the epistemological fallacy. We cannot check out perceptions from outside our perceptions. The idea that the atheist world view is scientific and factual is easily disproved. All we need to do is present them with some science that speaks agaisnt their view and see quickly that bit of scientific fact soon becomes unimportance. The selective nature with which they cling to that which supports their view and denounce that which dose not, despite it's good scientific quality, is obvious proof that the objectivity of atheists is a pretense. Example of this are for example the Lourdes miracles. Those are studies with excellent science. They consult the doctors, they have good rules to screen out remission, they only use cases that can be documented through scientific diagnostics they insist upon having all the evidence. I have yet to see an atheist treat these facts with any sort of respect. They say the most outrageous things about Lourdes and refuse to believe there's anything scientific connected with it. There merely goes to show how subjective the atheist view is. Their use of scinece is totally subjective.
Another fine example is the 200 empirical studies from academic journals that show that religious experience has long term positive effects. Architects have everything they can to undermine and discredit these studies except read them! In two years of harping on them they have looked up two studies. They didn't read those. Yet they claim to have a factual, scientific, objective view point. it's so bleeding obvious that their view is subjective because they are so totally selective about what they embrace as scinece and what they don't accept. They are even willing to accept pseudo scinece. They will treat the religious expediences studies as though they are new age movement garbage done by self appointed shamans while at the same time using phony social scinece studies with crap methodology no study design by anyone with credentials. A major example here is that badly done "study" on atheists in prison compared to how many "Chrsitians" are alleged in prison. The study design on that one is done by a five year old it's so bad. Their protestations about having a fact based world are just poppycock. That's nothing but propaganda.
In response to this atheists will insist upon scientific facts that can't be denied. Sure, on a mundane or trivial level there are facts, but when we start connect them to a big picture, of necessity it becomes a subjective world view.
Subjective knowledge is not necessarily unsealable. Since subjectivity is the only state we are capable of it follows that we can learn ways to minimize the problems of subjectivity. Atheists use that as the ultimate dismissal "that's subjective." That means case closed it's a over, but that's just more rhetorical flourish. Subjective knowledge is part of human experience it's valid too. In addition to subjectivity and objectivity there is also inter-subjectivity. I have never head a single atheist say anything about it and I have never met not one atheist who knows what it is. I say it every time and they just let roll off their backs like water off a duck and say nothing more. This is because they learn their philosophy form atheist websites so they know nothing phenomenology. Inter-subjectivity means a subjective aspect to something that more than one person perceives in a very similar ways. Because there is a perceptual check though the many different minds perceiving the phenomena we can find to minimize the unreliability.
A good example of this the M scale developed by Dr. Ralph H. Hood Jr. of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The M scale (mystics scale) is a means of validating the theories of W.T. Stace ho wrote about the mystics of the world. M scale is a means of placing a control upon mystical experience so that it can be determined weather or not one has has had a valid mystical expedience. To determine that it validates the work of Stace who developed a theory about the nature of mysticism based upon the writings of the world's great mystics. The M scale has been validated in about a dozen different cultures with several different faith and has demonstrated that Stace's view is correct and the experiences of modern people conform to those of ancinet mystics. That gives us a comparison by which we can say "this is/is not a mystical experience." Having such control we set up a typology so we understand what the experiences entail. Once we know that we can study the effects of such experiences on the lives of those who have them. In well over 200 studies this has been done and the evidence shows that such experiences have a profound long term positive effect upon those who have them.
(from the Mohan article)
For the purpose of this review of studies relating spirituality with psychological well-being, studies involving religious influence have also been considered as they are closely related to spirituality.
Spirituality and well-being
From time immemorial it is believed that spiritual experiences and practices have a therapeutic value in so far as they are capable of establishing an integrated personality. A report (Culligan, 1996) of a 1995 conference held at Harvard University reflects the new collaborative attempts of religion and medicine wherein there is a recognition of the power of religion and spiritual practices in medical treatment. The conference explored the relationship between spirituality and healing in medicine, with reference to the major world religions, and it provided a platform to discuss the physiological, neurological and psychological effects of healing resulting from spirituality.
Several recent studies (Allman et al., 1992; Elkins, 1995; Shafranske & Malony, 1990) have shown that the majority of practicing psychologists though not involved in organized religion, consider spirituality important not only to their personal lives but also to their clinical work. In a study Sullivan (1993) reports findings from a larger qualitative study that is seeking to discover factors associated with the successful adjustment of former and current consumers of mental health services. The study concludes that spiritual beliefs and practices were identified as essential to the success of 48% of the informants interviewed.
Vaughan (1991) explored the relevance of spiritual issues for individual psychotherapy among those motivated by spiritual aspiration and concluded that spirituality underlies both, personal impulses to growth and healing, and many creative cultural and social enterprises. Spitznagel (1992) and Sweeney and Witmer (1992) discussed the spiritual element in the well-ness model approach to work-adjustment and rehabilitation counselling and said that this holistic concept of working with clients is generally centred on faith, belief and values. Westgate (1996) in her review proposed four dimensions of spiritual wellness: (1) meaning in life (2) intrinsic value (3) transcendence and (4) spiritual communality. The paper also discussed the implications of these dimensions for research, counselling and counsellor education.
In a two year exploratory group study of participants in spiritual healing practices, Glik (1986) found that the healing which occurred is related to various measures of psychological wellness defined as the construct of subjective health. Fehring et al., (1987) correlating studies that investigate the relationship between spirituality and psychological mood states in response to life change, found that spiritual well-being, existential well-being and a spiritual outlook showed a strong inverse relationship with negative moods, suggesting that spiritual variables may influence well-being.
Over the years numerous claims have been made about the nature of spiritual/mystical and Maslow’s “peak experiences”, and about their consequences. Wuthnow (1978) set out to explore findings regarding peak experiences from a systematic random sample of 1000 persons and found that peak experiences are common to a wide cross-section of people, and that one in two has experienced contact with the holy or sacred, more than eight in ten have been moved deeply by the beauty of nature and four in ten have experienced being in harmony with the universe. Of these, more than half in each have had peak experiences which have had deep and lasting effects on their lives. Peakers are more likely also, to say they value working for social change, helping to solve social problems, and helping people in need. Wuthnow stressed the therapeutic value of these experiences and also the need to study the social significance of these experiences in bringing about a world in which problems such as social disintegration, prejudice and poverty can be eradicated. Savage et al., (1995) provided clinical evidence to suggest that peakers produce greater feelings of self-confidence and a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. Mogar’s (1965) research also tended to confirm these findings.
Some researchers in the recent past have found that life satisfaction correlated positively with mystical / spiritual experiences, and these experiences were further found to relate positively to one’s life purpose (Kass, et al., 1991). In fact researchers are of the view that a positive relation between positive affect and mystical experiences may not be surprising given that intense positive affect is often considered to be one of the defining characteristics of these experiences (Noble, 1985; Spilka, Hood & Gorsuch, 1985). The few studies that investigated well-being measures, spirituality and spiritual experience have found that people who have had spiritual experiences are in the normal range of well-being and have a tendency to report more extreme positive feelings than others (Kennedy, Kanthamani & Palmer, 1994; Kennedy & Kanthamani, 1995).
Spiritual experiences are also considered to be exceptional human experiences at the upper end of the normal range such as creative inspiration and exceptional human performance, and can be life changing. Fahlberg, Wolfer and Fahlberg (1992) interpreted personal crises from a developmental perspective that includes the possibility of self-transcendence through spiritual experience / or emergency. The authors suggest that health professionals need to recognize, facilitate and support positive growth experiences.
A study by De Roganio (1997) content-analyzed and organized into a paradigm case examples found in themes of 35 lived-experience informants and 14 autobiographers who represented a wide range of people with physical disability and chronic illness. It was found that the combined elements of spiritual transformation, hope, personal control, positive social support and a meaningful energetic life enabled individuals to improve themselves and come to terms with their respective conditions. These experiences led many people to realize their own interest, sense of wholeness and unity, and to experience and integrate a deeper meaning, sense of self and spirituality within their lives.
Some studies have offered a spiritual approach to addiction problems. Caroll (1993) found that 100 members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) benefited from spirituality which was found to correlate positively with having a purpose in life and the length of sobriety. Frame and Williams (1996), in their study of religions and spiritual dimensions of the African-American culture, address the role of spirituality in shaping identity, and conclude that reconnecting AA clients to their powerful spiritual tradition may be a crucial catalyst for personal empowerment and spiritual liberation. The finding was confirmed in a later study by Wif and Carmen (1996). Another study reported by Green et al., (1998) described the process of spiritual awakening experienced by some persons in recovery during the quest for sobriety. The data suggested that persons in recovery often undergo life altering transformations as a result of embracing a power higher than one’s self i.e., a “higher power”. The result is often the beginning of an intense spiritual journey that leads to sustained abstinence.
In the last few years investigators in the rapidly growing field of mind-body medicine are coming across findings that suggest that an attitude of openness to unusual experiences such as spiritual, transcendental, peak, mystical may be conducive to health and well-being. For example, Dean Ornish, a heart disease researcher, believes that “opening your heart” to “experience a higher force” is in an important component of his programme for reversing heart disease (Ornish, 1990, chapter 9). There are also studies that relate illness with spirituality: Reese (1997) found in her study of terminally ill adults aged 20-85 years that, (1) they had a greater spiritual perspective than non-terminally ill hospitalized adults and adults, (2) their spiritual perspective was positively related to well-being and (3) a significant larger number of terminally ill adults indicated a change toward increased spirituality than did non-terminally ill or healthy adults.
Further, McDowell et al., (1996) investigated the importance of spirituality among 101 severely mentally ill and chronically dependent in-patients, and 31 members of the nursing staff who treated them. It was found that both the patients and the staff who treated them were equally spiritually oriented, and that the patients viewed spirituality as essential to their recovery and they valued the spiritual programme in their treatment more than some of the more concrete items.
Numerous studies have found positive relationships between religious beliefs and practices and physical or mental health measures. Although it appears that religious belief and participation may possibly influence one’s subjective well-being, many questions need to be answered such as when and why religion is related to psychological well-being. A review by Worthington et al., (1996) offers some tentative answers as to why religion may sometimes have positive effects on individuals. Religion may (a) produce a sense of meaning, something worth living and dying for (Spilka, Shaves & Kirkpath, 1985); (b) stimulate hope (Scheier & Carver, 1987) and optimism (Seligman, 1991); (c) give religious people a sense of control by a beneficient God, which compensates for reduced personal control (Pargament et al., 1987); (d) prescribe a healthier lifestyle that yields positive health and mental health outcomes; (e) set positive social norms that elicit approval, nurturance, and acceptance from others; (f) provide a social support network; or (g) give the person a sense of the supernatural that is certainly a psychological boost-but may also be a spiritual boost that cannot be measured phenomenologically (Bergin & Payne, 1993). It is also reported by Myers and Diener (1995) that people who experience a sustained level of happiness are more likely to say that they have a meaningful religious faith than people who are not happy over a long period of time.
A study by Handway (1978) on religiosity concluded that religion is one potential resource in people’s lives. More recently Myers and Diener (1995) in their survey of related studies observe that links between religion and mental health are impressive and that culture and religiosity may provide better clues to understanding the nature of well-being. Religious belief and practice play an important role in the lives of millions of people worldwide. A review by Selway and Ashman (1998) highlighted the potential of religion to effect the lives of people with disabilities, their families and care givers.
These results enable us to trust subjective experience becasue the bottom line of reliability is the concrete effect upon the one experiences it. Since these experiences are so profound and positive it is clearly they are not merely a psychological trick up a real experience and they are indicative of a reality, the content of the experience tells us that the reality is that of the divine. The effects of the experience, because they can be studied and demonstrated to be positive form a control on the reliability of the experience. Atheists can't argue that it's mental illness because that is never long term positive. they can't argue that it's just a trick of the mind because those rarely last. They can't argue that it's unreliable because with the M scale we can show it's an extremely tight correlation. These experiences almost always result in this outcome. Just becasue we can't get into the texture of the experience doesn't' mean it's unreliable as long as we can predict the out come.
We need to use all the knowledge we have. We know there are other kinds of knowledge besides science. There is logic, phenomenology, intuitive sense, experiential, and so on. We need to use all kinds of knowledge and to Taylor the method to the type of question using only the method that is suited to the question. We need to abandon the baron road of reductionism that is nothing more than ideology and expand our understanding to a holistic approach to learning and knowledge. Atheist propaganda has sold its adherents a bill of goods, they have done a bait and switch transposing slective bias and propaganda for real knowledge and learning. Let me give two examples of the way method needs to be taylored:
(1) God arguments.
God is not given in sense data. God is beyond human understanding because God is transcendent. Its' foolish to expect scientific evidence for God because God is not a scientific question. Thus attempt to prove God's existence will be nil if we use scinece. We can use logic, it could have proved by logic but that's very complex whee we deal with issues of the ground of being. It makes a lot more sense to scrap the question "how you prove the existence of God" and say "you don't." You don't need to prove it if you experience the reality of God because then you know. We need, therefore, to argue for a rational warrant. All we need to do is show that it's ratinoal to believe in God, that does not require proving it and it could take on a huge range of different kinds of evidence, from logic to scientific empiricism. See my God argument list for examples.
(2) Poly Symbolic Monotheism
Atheist are always trying to play divide and conquer by saying things like "which God is the one that created the universe." Trying to direct one faith against another. They often make the assumption with so many competing faiths we can never know which one is right therefore none can be. I've never understood the logic of that but the question is moot. We do not need to ask "which one is right" because all of them all They are all also wrong. That doesn't matter because salvation comes in knowing God and that is an individual matter that transcends all man made institutions. Same reality stands behind all religions. So the question we should ask is "how do we understand the reality behind all religions?" The method we need to use, social science, cultural constructs, theology, mystical experience, an understanding of comparative religion.
It is possible to understand the core of mystical and religious and divine truth and to experience the reality of God and know that God is real. Subjectivity you will have with you always, subjectivity is the nature of our species. Subjectivity is human experience, it need not not get in the way.