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 Synchronicity as an exemplar of Superstition

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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Synchronicity as an exemplar of Superstition   Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:02 pm

ESP or Pattern Projection?
Imagination or Second Sight?

Deism is an attractive worldview for FreeThinkers in part because there are no predefined or authoritatively-imposed limitations on what & how you believe. But that openness comes at a price, democratic Deists must learn to tolerate some beliefs that they personally find unbelievable. Toleration is relatively easy if your own belief system is flexible, evolving, and open to change. But acceptance of conflicting beliefs is not acceptable if you are more interested in truth than in social harmony.

The arcane topic of Synchronicity came up on another forum in the context of exploring why our personal worldviews often seem to divide along the lines of Intuition versus Reason as distinct viewpoints with sometimes incompatible perceptions of the world around us. Here though, I’d like to expand on that minor difference of opinion as a means for understanding the more general rift between Natural & Supernatural or Normal & Paranormal worldviews that can be found even among professing enlightened freethinking Deists. For the record, my worldview is completely normal and natural within the realm of spacetime, and the only exception to the rule of reason is the postulated god-realm of Enfernity, so even the immanence of G*D is a natural phenomenon.

One of the reasons I’m a Deist today instead of a Christian is that I critically examined the foundation of my own faith, and found serious fact cracks. Despite 2500 years of scholarship supporting the divine authorship of the Bible, I had the audacity to reach a different conclusion. Underneath the façade of infallibility, it bore all the earmarks of fallible human editorship. In particular, the miraculous interventions could be explained by mundane causes, such as people exaggerating ordinary events to make an extraordinary impression on susceptible minds. Presumably then, all other reports of the supernatural can be regarded as fictional.

Years ago I read Karl Jung’s Synchronicity---An Acausal Connecting Principle, in part because I was still looking for any sign of divine influence in the world. Like Astrology, it was an interesting hypothesis to explain some puzzling patterns of correspondence between otherwise unrelated phenomena. However, even when I had been primed to look for such anomalies, I have never before or since observed any such portentous juxtapositions that would defy rational explanation. Unless of course you were ignorant or dismissive of the materialistic mechanical scientific model of mental operations.

For those who found meaning but not mechanism in the puzzling patterns, the null result of their reasoning could be attributed to ignorance, obtuseness, or to a paranormal “mechanism” that is imperceptible to reason but not to intuition. Of course, the first two options are unacceptable for obvious reasons. But the “irrational” implication of the third could actually be flattering to the ego, if ordinary intuition could be re-interpreted as a superior mode of understanding---a third eye, so to speak.

However, everyone is intuitive to some extent. But only a select few people claim to be privy to the secrets of a supernatural realm. So the rarity of spiritual insight can be explained as either a rare gift, or as a result of unusual motivation and discipline. Therefore, those like me who are blind to the deeper significance of apparently trivial coincidences must be either un-gifted, or un-motivated, or even prejudiced against the possibility of a parallel reality.

Since I can’t deny the existence of something of which I am ignorant, I must admit that such a hypothetical super-reality is within the realm of possibility. But another simpler explanation, which doesn’t require adding another layer of unfalsifiable conjecture, is that the proposed phenomenon actually works by the well-known mechanism of faith : if you don’t believe it, you don’t see it.

Although Jung was never clear about the implication, Synchronicity seems to assume the existence of a controversial occult aspect to reality that has typically been labeled by unbelievers as “superstition”. The term originally referred to invisible human-like beings who literally “stand above” the clouds, such as the gods of Olympus. But it came to be applied to any unprovable or unfalsifiable, hence irrational, belief.

Since these conjectures---including the panendeistic cosmology---are almost impossible to prove with empirical evidence, they can only be discussed via abstract logic, and accepted as true by a leap of faith into the abyss above & beyond rational calculation. But when we open the Pandora’s Box of Faith, all kinds of irrational possibilities can enter the world of plausibility. For example, in addition to New Agey Synchronicity, more traditional forms of faith, such as Tibetan prayer wheels and astrological influences on human destiny, may seem to be just as reasonable---if not moreso---as the imaginary deity of Deism.

So how can we justify our own hyper-rational conclusion, and reject those other superstitions? In either case, something seems to be going on that is beyond the scope of human reasoning. We can’t even imagine such out-of-this-world possibilities, except in the wordless imagery of holistic intuition. Most of us seem to know better than to try to explain our opinions on ultimate reality by reference to the cul-de-sac of step-by-step reasoning, even reflective reasoning.

I can be open-minded about the diversity of beliefs in the world. And I don’t have to justify my faith to others, nor they to me. But unless I can exclude those other options to my own satisfaction, my faith could be in vain. So what do you think? Am I missing something here? Do any of you have any direct experience with paranormal phenomena?


Enfernity : the hypothetical eternal-infinite abode of G*D

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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: Synchronicity as an exemplar of Superstition   Sun Jul 10, 2011 11:10 pm

Gnomon wrote:
...such as people exaggerating ordinary events to make an extraordinary impression on susceptible minds...
Reminds me of some of the political punditry these days.

Gnomon wrote:
So how can we justify our own hyper-rational conclusion, and reject those other superstitions?
I would say that my metaphysical world view is completely compatible with hard and crusty science, some of that "new-agey" stuff isn't.

Gnomon wrote:
I can be open-minded about the diversity of beliefs in the world. And I don’t have to justify my faith to others, nor they to me. But unless I can exclude those other options to my own satisfaction, my faith could be in vain. So what do you think? Am I missing something here? Do any of you have any direct experience with paranormal phenomena? [/url]
No. I don't believe in the paranormal. I'm open to the possibility that things that are often labeled as paranormal exist, but if they do exist I don't believe that they should be labeled as paranormal... most likely they are just a part of normal existence that has yet to be discovered.

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