What do we literally mean when using words like "spirit

 
wkramer
 
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wkramer
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27 January 2006 17:49
 

Hello, I'd just like to say before going into my question that I have found this forum to be a refreshingly open discussion of vital topics.

So; I tend to find that in any conversation, especially those of this nature, that it is like stepping into a thick jungle of words and concepts whose fundamentally undefined nature untimely swallows up any reasonable attempt made by those involved to communicate or understand whatever the originally intended message had been. I understand that at this level of dialogue some such murkiness is unavoidable. Anyhow, I see words like God and faith being used and I wonder what specific perceived stimuli these words are representing in the mind of the user. Or is the argument that since there is no perceived source, a different (godly) significance is attached to these "belief/word/idea-creators"..? Basically I guess what I am asking is, "What is God?" ..when you use that noise, what are you communicating to me? Is it simply that which you know that you do not perceive? Or something else? Feelings? For those of you that claim a "personal relationship" with that which inspires the word "God", what does this literally mean?
What is that in your brain that pops up (or doesn’t) when you use the word spiritual? Described as simply and honestly as possible.


I know I have just asked some very broad questions. As a person who grew up in the Christian tradition, and currently attends a Christian university, I have my own ideas as to what these words mean to people, but I think it would be an enlightening exercise on both sides of the table to attempt to discuss that which informs these words we toss around at each other so often in these conversations.

 
mudfoot
 
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mudfoot
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27 January 2006 19:38
 

[quote author=“teh sujbect”]
Re: What do we literally mean when using words like “spirit

ineffable

 
wkramer
 
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wkramer
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27 January 2006 20:31
 

[quote author=“mudfoot”][quote author=“teh sujbect”]
Re: What do we literally mean when using words like “spirit

ineffable

Ok, I think I understand, “God” is something beyond expression, cannot be defined…etc….

If so, then what is it that reaches some part of you and speaks “UNDEFINABLE” ...would not then this be “God”? and therefore something quite tangible, namely, a sense ( biochemical perception) of something that your brain perhaps has no cognitive structure in which it would be integrated that would correspond to stimuli coming from your more recognizable o 5 senses ? ...Most concepts/ideas/beliefs we hold in our heads are unspeakably abstract until they are interpreted in relation to other perceptions.

 

When I think of a single thing that I “know”, for instance , a flower; that whole concept of “flower” is essentially a combination of perceived stimuli that my brain has gathered over time; and in an instant of recall, aided by such clumps of cells as my olfactory cortex, my limbic system, optic information etc…My brain takes a myriad of individually “meaningless”, “indefinable” essences and creates “flower”. At that point the “I” part of me notices it as “something” and I have become a believer in my own creation.

In the physical world we can individually observe the components that make up “flower” in the nature of other physical objects - they lie in the same physical spectrum-and this has led us to be able to from complex observations of interrelationships between these various “components”.....

to tie this in with Sam’s call for a contemplative science, another way of stating that would be to perhaps be a call to set out to observe the components of this more non-physical part of existence which give rise to “God” if it even arises from that, or not, and we would be able to talk about “God” as we do a flower…..color, smell, shape, ..Achieve and understanding of the parts that creates the whole…(to use physical terms)

 
MJ
 
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MJ
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28 January 2006 02:25
 

That’s at the heart of the communications problem, isn’t it. Words like “spirit” have had thousands of meanings over time, ranging from “spirits” of dead ancestors, to “spirit of 76,” to “spirits” referring to alcohol, to the idea of possession by “spirits,” good or evil, from the Holy Ghost to demons, and many more, you get the idea. Even among Christians, even within not only the same denomination or the same congregation, your concept of “spirit” or of “god” or of any of these related words and concepts, may be entirely different from that of others, everybody nods assuming complete understanding, and the odds are all too high that nobody knows what anybody else is really talking about.

This makes it incredibly easy to set up straw man arguments and knock them down. Especially when creating shallow arguments about the existence or non-existence of god or whatever. A lot of this happens in this forum. Does “spirit” exist? Of course it does, since it’s whatever we happen to be defining it to be at the moment.

 
nv
 
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nv
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28 January 2006 02:37
 

I suspect that neuro researchers have a difficult time convincing believers to undergo testing. For instance, Christians typically are not open to over-examination of their faith. They might be afraid that if they look too closely at God, they may lose Him (the neuro connections that allow them to construct deistic nonsense). And keep in mind that for a couple of thousand years, believers have been trained not to think any thought that goes too far afield from orthodoxy as they know it.

Also, as with MJ I’m suspicious of words that lack clear definition, and I studiously avoid them especially in my writing.