Discussion in 'Parapsychology' started by Magical Realist, Dec 17, 2017.
How do you define the probability of phenomena we haven't discovered yet?
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it's trivial to you because you don't see the implications. paranormal events, especially, point to more than one dimension of reality which can affect us everyday without being consciously aware of it. ironicly, the more i realized what you see is not what all there is, the more wiser and better equipped i became to handle this world. that in itself is an accomplishment with a society that tries it's darndest to pull the wool over your eyes in it's own way of literalism which, again, can make you paradoxically just as or more vulnerable or mislead.
Why would they want to learn all about how a dull mechanical universe works when instead they can live in the presence of magic and miracles?
Its great that you are alert to the " pull the wool over your eyes" game.
I have had hints of strange things, one instance of a dream playing out the next day, and this I could not put down to imagination because I told if my dream to my mother when I got up, later that day it played out exactly.
The dream involved my catching a bird in the dream is was female in the reality it was male all other aspects the same, location and method.
Most strange but that has happened only once so presumably coincidence.
I have others, feeding my dogs I figured they got excited when I did something that let them know it was feed time.
I eliminated all actions and merely thought about feeding them, and the six times I did this they got excited when I thought about feeding them.Six in a row makes even me wonder.
When playing pool I would think horrible things hoping that somehow the negativity would cloud the mind of my opponent.
I had a major play off with a guy who I had waited four years to meet and play.
In six of those games he had an easy shot on the black, six times I did my thing and he missed each shot.
At the level we play at missing such a shot would be a once in a hundred, if ever, so after six misses I wondered if I was somehow messing with his thoughts.
I have done that since and don't ask me why but it seems to work most times.
But if there is anything going on with the dogs or the pool games it is so nebulous that I consider it unusable.
I have also had wild visualisation events.
Once, on the Monday, I said to my Son I should get a Merc as I worked a high end real estate market and those folk were impressed by such trivia.
On the following Thursday a friend showed me his new merc and I said "I thought it may be a good idea to get one for the business"
He said I will sell you my old one only $20,000.
I said I can't afford that..he said take it $100 per week.
So I got the merc.
Didn't like it and had him take it back after two weeks.
But these things don't carry me away.
I think that Hume defines 'miracle' in a very strong way, as "'a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the deity or by the interposition of some invisible agent". St. Augustine's early 5th century idea was subtly different. As the IEP puts it, in Augustine's view "a miracle is not contrary to nature, but only to our knowledge of nature; miracles are made possible by hidden potentialities in nature that are placed there by God." (Augustine was a very astute man philosophically, if bizarre psychologically. But I suspect this was more a theological move than a philosophical one. He probably wanted to keep God eternally consistent and to avoid conceiving of him as metaphysically capricious.) Thomas Aquinas (and Roman Catholic theology) follow Augustine somewhat.
Moving the issue from metaphysics to epistemology, away from requiring that a law of nature be violated towards merely requiring that our human expectation of natural law be violated, makes miracles a rather different sort of thing.
We might factor in the so-called 'pessimistic induction', the idea that the fact that many of the scientific ideas of the past turned out to be false justifies the inductive conclusion that many of our scientific ideas of today will prove to be equally false in the light of future science. In which case any of the false ones can be violated without in fact violating the order of nature.
The advent of quantum mechanics and relativity were certainly contrary to the prior centuries' understanding of physics, so assuming those developments were indeed willed by God, then they might actually qualify as miracles in Augustine's sense. One might conceivably argue that the unexpected discovery of quantum weirdness was miraculously placed into human history of science by God in order to humble late 19th century scientistic hubris. In Augustine's view the quantum mechanical principles would always have been there in potentia before physicists discovered them, so the eternal God wasn't toying with his creation by capriciously changing its rules.
But moving Hume's argument away from metaphysics still leaves it pretty much intact and might actually make it stronger if we adopt a fallibilist epistemology. That would mean that the argument wouldn't be for the conclusion that miracles are impossible, but merely for the far more defensible conclusion that it isn't reasonable to believe in them.
Hume seems to me to have been arguing (the argument wasn't original with him) that we should choose the most likely explanation for events. If we are told that somebody rose from the dead, maybe there were hidden potentialities in nature that made such a thing possible. That would be an Augustinian-style explanation, that God put the possibility of rising from the dead into creation at the beginning, because he would have need for it later. But Hume and I would argue that not only is there is little or no reason to believe that, it seems to violate all kinds of seeming-facts about physiology and the abilities of living things, gathered by induction from human experience. On the other hand, the existence of unintentional mistakes, intentional lies and mythological tall-tales is well attested in human history.
So, I would argue and Hume would probably agree, that it's more reasonable to assume that a story of somebody rising from the dead is a mistake, a lie or a fable than it is to believe that it really happened. Based on what we currently know (which might be false), that has a greater likelihood of being true. So it's the conclusion that we are best advised to go with at this point. Nevertheless, we might be wrong in that judgement (since our knowledge and understanding are limited and fallible) and somebody (Jesus or whoever) might in fact have risen from the dead.
Presumably by how much the phenomenon we haven't discovered yet would violate our current knowledge and understanding, were it true. Of course as I just argued, given the fallibility and limitations of our current knowledge, such violations are to be expected. (The Earth isn't the center of the universe, biological evolution, the 'big-bang', quantum mechanics and relativity...)
So the argument can't be for the conclusion that violations can't exist or be true. It should only be for the conclusion that given our current ideas, beliefs and knowledge, it isn't reasonable to believe in such things.
There are currently all kinds of attempts underway to formalize epistemology in terms of probabilities. (Bayesian epistemology etc.)
I'm inclined to think that when these approaches try to grapple with the unknown, they are pretty much doomed to failure, for precisely the reason you just gave. How would we assign a numerical probability to some unknown phenomenon occurring, if it's totally surprising and we haven't even imagined it? It's also impossible in principle to assign a formal probability to the possibility that our most cherished current beliefs might in fact be wrong. All we know is that the possibility exists.
Nevertheless, having said that, I think that we all informally operate that way. We assign intuitive non-numerical likelihoods to various states of affairs occurring and to our various beliefs being true. I certainly do that. It isn't science though and it never was.
I don't think it is possible to predict a phenomena based on our current understanding of the laws of physics. Who could've predicted life from the laws governing matter and energy? Who could've predicted consciousness from the laws governing biology? The universe reveals a definite trend towards emergent phenomena that cannot be reduced to their constituent elements. Fortean phenomena such as religious miracles may be a kind of emergent event that defies predictability based on physical law or psychological regularities. It may betoken a kind of metaphysical eventhood that involves aspects of reality we have yet to even consider.
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