Monday, 30 July 2018

Direct knowing (intuition) is superior to sensory and logical 'evidence' - e.g. when evaluating the reality of God, the relevance of Jesus

Many people have said that there is not enough 'evidence' for them to believe in the reality of God; but people need to recognise that evidence is always ambiguous, and never decisive.

People say things like: 'Seeing is believing... If only God would speak to me in words, or send an angel to tell me, or show me a major public miracle... then I would believe.'

But they are being dishonest; seeing is not believing; and they would not believe.

And they are mistaken by the assumption that sensory data is the most solid and compelling source of knowledge.

People ought to be clear that evidence can never convince - and this is especially the case in the mainstream modern world.

We are a world in which evidence of all kinds - real science, logic, personal experience, the word of people we trust - is routinely ignored; and instead people believe vague, incoherent and continually changing nonsense, sprayed at them by the mass media and institutional propaganda.

This is possible because all evidence, without exception, is ambiguous; and because modern people feel no obligation to be consistent - nor even to aim-at consistency. This, because their bottom-line validation is how they feel, and feelings are neither consistent not coherent across time.

Consider. Any evidence which comes to us by the senses is ambiguous because it must be interpreted - it must be put into context.

And there is always the possibility of more evidence emerging...

And words must be understood, and picture must be recognised; the 'logical' implications of any-thing that happens must be reasoned-out. A new theory changes what counts as evidence; a new theory recognises new sources of evidence. And new theories, new interpretations, can be generated without end...

Small-scale, individual, private perceptions might be an error, or an hallucination, or we may be deluded and falsely interpreting, or we may be demented or drain damaged, or we may be mastered by wishful thinking...

So private knowledge may be mistaken to to our limiations. Yet big public events are differently registered, differently reported, differently explained; and some of this noticing, reporting and explanation is deliberately misleading, or manipulative - so that public evidence turns out to be even less compelling than private.

And if we try to communicate the evidence, or our conclusions about it, to other people; then all these uncertainties are multiplied. 

So anything based on sensory data, any evidence, has problems due to its not being self-explanatory.

What is more certain, what is the most certain knowledge; is knowledge we know directly, that is without sensory mediation, without any chains of perceptions and interpretations: knowledge that appears in our deepest and truest self, without perceptual cause, and bearing the provenance of truth. Knowledge that 'appears' in the mind whole and understood, graspable by a single and complete mental act of apprehension.

This is intuition - and we can't do better than intuition.

Of course, our later self may still decide that earlier intuitions were incorrect; in a world of change, corruption and mortality there is no way of avoiding that.

But we can recognise the principle that - contrary to what most people think and say - evidence of the senses, evidence of 'logic' are inferior to directly apprehended knowledge.

We can recognise that the best possible evidence for the reality of God, or the relevance to us personally of Jesus Christ, is not 'evidence - nor is it 'logic', but is exactly that sudden, complete, total grasping of simple reality.

The implication is that the most important investigation we could do, would be to look 'within'; rather than to seek external evidence. More exactly, the role of external evidence should be to clarify for our-selves, exactly what it is that we are looking-for within.

But evidence can never take us to where we want to go, and need to go; and never can compel us to belief in God or faith in Jesus. That is a matter of direct knowledge - of intuition.


William Wildblood said...

People want proof of God on a material level which is silly because you can't prove spiritual truths by material means. If you really want proof of God you have to go to where he is which means. as you say, exercise your spiritual mind which is the intuition.

Unknown said...

You are much more of a Zen Buddhist than you perhaps admit :)

Bruce Charlton said...

@U - Sorry, you've got the wrong guy... I was a (solitary) Zen Buddhist about 35 years ago. Since then I've been 'born again' as a Christian. So I know the difference!

Kenneth Lloyd Anderson said...

I have a different take on the subject: This is from my blog entrance today:

The sacred synthesis of theological materialism

I think theological materialism better solves the tragic separation that took place as rationalism weakened or destroyed myth and faith, which Hegel, Nietzsche, and others intellectually wrestled with.

Science, the jewel of the reason and the Enlightenment, can be a great aid in the material evolution of life to supermaterial Godhood, which retains myth and faith since the God or Gods are not rejected but transformed in evolutionary theological materialism.

The philosophy of art which Nietzsche thought could replace a religion that ascetically rejected material life, can affirm life, evolution, heroism, and creative moral art, with the sacred affirmation of material evolution to supermaterial Godhood.

For conservatives or traditionalists the Twofold Path retains the old religion of the involutionary inward path to the symbolic God Within but transforms it in the evolutionary outward path of material evolution to real supermaterial Godhood.

Three cheers?

Michael Dyer said...

I think about this all the time, I think the first germ was planted when I was exposed to GK Chesterton years ago.

This intuition paradoxically strikes people as "woo woo" or mystical or dodgy in spite of the fact that it is a sense you use all the time.

It's how you drive your car, walk, pick up on social cues make 90% of your daily practical judgements. I weep when I think of the years of education I received that focused on getting me to doubt my intuition. You need some of it because like every other sense it is touched by infirmity and has to be trained, but the focus of my education honestly pushed it to the point where it gave me,basically, spiritual OCD.

There's an interesting talk I heard from a catholic priest who said that devils have the most influence over your imagination and the least over your intuition. Intuition isn't feeling or emotion that's another misconception, it's basically your minds eye. It can be deceived like everything else, but throwing it away is about comparable to blinding yourself because eyewitnesses in court cases can be confused about what they saw.

Chiu ChunLing said...

More concisely, all of our ideas of "evidence" derived from sensory inputs and logic are based on premises granted by our fundamental intuition. How should we respond when someone asks evidence of the validity of their senses or logic?

It is our intuition that in the first place tells us that sensory phenomena are real information coming from outside ourselves, and that logic is a valid means of verifying coherence of various concepts. However, I say that as someone who has no difficulty seeing the works of God with my natural eyes and comprehending that the physical presence of the Almighty Creator of them would be as fatal as a nuclear explosion.

I have not been transfigured to that form of flesh that could witness the physical phenomenon of might capable of forming the stars and the galaxy (compared with which a nuke is hardly a flashlight). I have seen God's person in vision, but that through spiritual senses and not by my sodden mortal flesh.

How many really disbelieve in nuclear weapons (or radiation) simply because they have not seen it with their natural eyes, but only representations? Oh, I can think of a few stories of poor rural Russian peasants, they have sad endings. One imagines that there are similar stories from China, but nobody is allowed to tell them where anyone might hear.

It is a fool who refuses to believe in something that is not itself visible when the evidences of its existence clearly indicate why it cannot be seen by the mortal eye. If one wants to see whether magnetic forces really exist, one must trust to some form of instrument such as a compass rather than seek a magnetic field strong enough to visibly distort light.

MJB said...

Somehow right after reading the first two paragraphs of this remarkable note of yours I knew I had to submit here the following:

"Proofs of God's existence abound for him who does not need them."

A commonplace remark, of course.
And, by the great absent Nicolás Gómez Dávila.
- mjb