By their end result maybe? They perform a function.
Otherwise disjoint and discrete events don’t.
By their end result maybe? They perform a function.
Otherwise disjoint and discrete events don’t.
Can you objectively demonstrate that non-teleological processes could not produce a function?
Raindrops fill a rain gauge, so no. But when the objective events have intrinsic personal meaning connecting them…
Intrinsic personal meaning would be the subjective part of it. Like I said before, I’m not saying it is true or false, only that it is a matter of faith (which isn’t meant as a derogatory statement).
Maggie’s personal needs were pretty objective, and so were the events concerning World Vision ‘calling’ Rich Stearns. Shall we talk about what ‘subjective’ means. The most subjective thing about the Stearns account was his amazement at the ordering of the objective circumstances, how he felt.
Thanks for the pointer, Phil @jpm (speaking of little birdies ; - ). Nice:
Thank you for your thoughtful response. Here are some of my thoughts:
I don’t think God speaking directly to a person is equivalent to a person altering the Bible. For starters, it wouldn’t alter the Bible. For another, it would be God’s doing & not that of man misleading people to think they are the mouthpiece of God. So, to me this doesn’t indicate that God wouldn’t have additional means of communication.
I believe that God speaks to us personally, & that it’s in line with Christianity, as it’s repeatedly mentioned in the Bible that God speaks to people in dreams & visions. At least He did & He also said He would, but I don’t know what the timeline on that promise was. Sometimes He spoke to people directly.
I don’t know. The Bible mentions dreams & visions specifically. In the Bible, God also sends angels to speak to people & also addresses them directly at times. What are the limitations at this time? I don’t know. I would say, however, that even feeling God’s presence seems to me to be a type of communication, though it is emotional & not verbal.
Although I’m speaking for the denomination I was raised in (which I connect with in some ways, but I don’t agree with all of their general interpretations) believes in dreams sometimes coming from God. They also only preach if they feel the Holy Spirit upon them. Otherwise, they will talk only briefly before sitting down if they don’t feel moved by the Spirit. They believe that in this state, God helps them know what to say. I think that is a form of communication, though it’s not just for the preacher, but for those in attendance.
As far as Christianity goes, I’d personally at least include those methods God is said to use in the Bible.
I think it’s safe to say that believing whatever suits our wants is God’s will & that whatever doesn’t is from another source is simply self serving. Human wants aren’t always compatible with God’s plans. Even our basic “needs” are nothing compared to spiritual needs, & I would think that God might ask for sacrifice or martyrdom or tasks that require hardship. What your soul needs might seem counter to more mundane needs for all I know.
Of course, we might be tempted to interpret things that way. That doesn’t mean it’s the accurate interpretation. People can also be tempted to interpret the Bible to suit themselves.
In Genesis 40, Joseph interprets the dreams of two men correctly. Genesis 40:8 (KJV) states, “And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.”
Apparently, God allowed Joseph to understand the dreams. The interpretations he relayed proved true.
Personally, I think some dreams are fairly obvious with enough meditation upon them. Some synchronicities are, as well. I’m not saying they all are. If you don’t understand it, then I wouldn’t stress over it since I think God will show you if it is important enough.
It is true that we can interpret dreams & synchronicities incorrectly, but people also interpret the Bible differently.
While we don’t need synchronicity to know what is already in the Bible, the primary purpose of the Bible seems to me to be about getting saved, aside from sharing basic information about Creation, Jesus’ sacrifice, etc. I don’t think that means that God wouldn’t necessarily have a more personal message to share with an individual or that God wouldn’t want something individual from a person. Plus, what about a personal relationship?
In the Bible, God requests things of Jonah & Moses, for example. I’m not saying everyone who experiences a great message or spiritual guidance from God is a prophet or a holy individual, but God might still need or want something from us individually. Such individual messages might not be in the Bible, which appears to me to be a collective message about the most important parts of Creation, the nature of God, salvation, worship, ethics, etc.
Perhaps God might want to make something clearer to a person struggling with comprehension or acceptance. Plus, I believe hearing directly from God could help some people to be more motivated to do His will, or perhaps it is simply to allow us a feeling of hope, peace, or connection. I don’t know what God’s motivations might be.
I’m personally not suggesting that you should listen to some rando off the streets if their interpretation doesn’t vibe with your soul.
Of course, as for what authority someone has, you see folks doing interpretations in the Bible. Joseph did this saying the interpretation was God’s. If God speaks to you, perhaps God will also help you to understand what something means. I’m not saying that’s always the case. I’m saying perhaps it is sometimes the case, particularly if you seek to understand. I’m not saying that’s always the case, regardless of effort or desire.
I struggle with comprehending it sometimes, and it is possible that a specific message might not be from God. However, there was one time where the synchronicity basically spelled it out for me in plain English. I joked that somebody out there must’ve felt sorry for me because I struggled so much at the interpretation.
Jung, while not speaking of Christian interpretation, said that the dreamer was the final authority on a dream. I do believe that ultimately, you have to trust yourself to decide if you believe what another human being is saying to you & if that makes sense to you religiously, spiritually or in regards to your life. You also have to decide for yourself if you think God is granting you understanding.
I personally don’t know if all my synchronicities are more than coincidence. If they are, I can’t say if they all have a Divine source. I suppose the moral quality of the message is one thing to consider. Also, I would consider if it is compatible or incompatible with the Word. If it’s incompatible, we can discern that it’s not from God.
In the Bible, it seems God, the angels & the Devil all spoke to people at some point. I wonder what all spirits can speak to us now.
When you speak of the synchronicities of suffering, are you talking about actual statistically unlikely “coincidental” events or events that appear to hold messages, etc. or are you just talking about the ubiquitous nature of suffering? I’m trying to understand if we have the same conception of what the word synchronicity means.
You can certainly have a synchronicity that is traumatic in nature, so perhaps you have experienced or observed a large amount of those. Yet, many more aren’t as you describe. Yes, life is full of darkness, but many synchronicities are not related to suffering, or if they are, some of them seem helpful in that regard. For example, if you consider a warning dream that saves one’s life to be a synchronicity, it is related to, but also prevents a trauma.
I agree that complying with what you do understand is more important than stressing out over what you can’t comprehend. However, I disagree that there’s no worth in seeking to deepen understanding because you are imperfect in following the law you know since as a person you will always fall short. It can still be worthwhile for an imperfect person to seek greater understanding of God’s will.
It’s okay if you don’t wish to interpret such things. I can understand why you might want to avoid it since there is so much possibility for misinterpretation. One definitely has to be wary of that! And wary of mistaking the source.
For me, I figure IF we’re given a message by God, there’s a reason. I assume it’s important. It might be enough for some people to get the messages without understanding them, & that’s okay. If it’s only to give us hope or connection, receiving it is enough without understanding it, as simply getting it could engender us with a sense of connection, wonder or faith. If they are meaningful to someone in that way, maybe that is the totality of their meaning for them.
I think there’s sometimes additional messages for some people, however. In such cases, I’d like to know what they are, though sometimes I’m unsure if there is a meaning. I don’t stress myself out over it. I’m naturally curious, & it draws my attention. Plus, the interpretation might be significant. And a few of them are very plain. Also, I find them interesting & sometimes spiritually moving & faith affirming.
I mean no judgment of anyone else’s way of addressing it. This is simply my own.
You say the Bible is enough. Yes, it is. And if you feel that’s all you are meant to understand, that’s okay.
For other folks, I don’t think that they’re diminishing the Bible. If God is otherwise communicating with people, there must be a reason. Also, the Bible itself mentions God communicating with us in dreams. For my family, part of recognizing the authority of the Bible is acknowledging that some dreams might be from God, & taking those seriously.
People who want to understand possible personal messages can still appreciate the Bible. It’s not a diminishment of the Bible to also find worth in other ways of connecting with God including personal messages from God. We pray to connect with God as instructed in the Bible. So, in some families, denominations, etc., people also recognize some dreams as God given, as the Bible also indicates this as a potential form of communication.
Rather than diminishing the worth of the Word, I think it’s simply seeing worth in all of the messages from & connection points with God. It’s not that the Bible isn’t enough for folks.
I understand & agree with much of what you’ve said, & it was well articulated. Thank you for your thoughts. With that said, I’m a bit confused about your comment regarding predictions. Do you mean predict the future based on synchronicities? I ask because not all synchronicities seem to me to be prophetic in nature. Some are more advisory. Others simply appear to be unlikely patterns or outward acknowledgments of personal or current circumstances, events, etc. However, some are admittedly prophetic, & your point about the sharp shooter fallacy has hit its mark, pun intended.
That’s true regarding more than dreams including what is meant by “God”. I am agnostic about that. I assume what we mean is something real, important and dynamic in our lives. But whether God is a being in His own right or something beyond our understanding which is the ground of all being I profoundly do not know and there are limits to the authority I’ll grant to the words of any or all others. I agree with you that we have no choice but to decide for our selves. Even if we desire to trust an expert we must in our inexpertise somehow choose which ones to rely on. Faith is getting on with the lives we are already thrown into as best we can regardless of the seeming difficulty. If we need certainty regarding the way ahead in advance we are doomed. Most knowledge is implicit and uncovered only in lived contexts. It is a gift really, something we can’t finally control.
I read a lot of Jung when I was younger but set synchronicity aside as something probably tangential and possibly kooky. Those aren’t deeply held judgements on my part, just the sort of triage we all do in deciding what is worth pursuing. I’m interested in your perspective but I want to put my agnostic, non Christian perspective out there so you can decide what is best for you. Faith can be fragile. I enjoy exploring other perspectives but do not wish to unsettle anyone’s balance in the process.
That last post of yours was a tad on the long side for a discussion forum but I found it interesting, especially what I quoted.
In general, I think we have a different understanding of whether God still speaks directly to us. I believe that direct, verbal (that is with words) communication is closed. If, for some reason God were to speak, I don’t think there’d be any question about what was said or what it meant.
Additionally, I find the subjectivity of human reception so varied, that it would be nearly impossible to claim a valid interpretation of any synchronicity, so that one could actually make much use of it. I am by nature skeptical in these ways and regularly see reason to maintain that position.
My understanding of the nature of Scripture is quite different from what you expressed: that it tells us how to be saved. There is much more there. The Westminster Confession gives a good nutshell summary:
The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.
With this in mind, I don’t feel the need to seek for any specific communication from God beyond this, and I don’t believe that it is really possible.
That being said, I am greatly encouraged in my faith by all sorts of things outside of Scripture, but do not seek them so much as appreciate what I can. Nature and good conversation with others are two things that really “speak” to me. You can find some examples I recently shared over here.
I think we are using the term “synchronicity” in the same or very similar ways. I see it as attempting to connect co-incidents in a meaningful way that may also imply causation, or a ontologically higher level cause that unites two or more co-incidents.
The most heinous examples I can give of interpretations of
synchronicity related to suffering are:
That’s a start.
One might be inclined to say, “Those are not synchronicities, but cause and effect relationships.” But if one looks closely, there are a number of factors that “converge” in each of these examples and I have provided the horrible interpretations.
So I googled it and started reading through various references, mostly confirming my old dismissal. But this was the more interesting one I read:
“The primary reality of synchronicities is emotional, not intellectual,” says Mark Holland, co-author of Synchronicity. “The reason they’re there is to make us feel something , and the feeling that our lives are rich and worth our reflection comes in part from our sense of the depth and mystery of life.”
Analyzed functionally like this, I think it would be fair to say that “synchronicity” is a fancy word for positing a physiological (or psychic) mechanism to account for an aspect of human experience. Of course it does not validate that aspect just as nothing else can either. What Is subjective and implicit cannot be rendered objective and explicit merely by coining a new word. But that aspect of our nature is there to be affirmed experientially or dismissed as unfounded as we prefer. Of course my affirmation or someone else’s dismissal settles nothing. We all get to and have to decide what strikes us as more true.
Synchronicities are not merely about feelings. Objective events can change the directions of lives, and when a series of objective events with implicit objective meaning tying them together, even while the events themselves are unrelated except for the person involved, sure, subjective feelings can result, but that does not negate the objective life-changing facts. God providentially intervenes in the lives of his children, and the godless, if they are wise, should not toss the meaningful implications.
You’re all doing Stalin in four. Through me. Now that’s a fact. How’d you feel about that? I am greatly blessed with Stendhal’s syndrome which can have me unbiddenly silently weeping before a Himalayan maple or Sisley’s The Seine at Suresnes or the weather prayer scene in Patton, Lust for Glory or looking down on the Minack theatre. The happy sadness, painful joy gives meaning to my life. Meaningless meaning.
I’m perplexed by your turns of phrase but also charmed and intrigued by them.
Stendahl’s syndrome I can and will google but I take it you do allow yourself to open up to what is beautiful, meaningful and extraordinary in life and that gives me a bit of a dewy eyed smile too. I do worry about you sometimes. It seems you wear rationality like a hair shirt. Whatever sin or lapse of judgement you may have committed in the past, many of us can see something shining through the self imposed Vulcan asceticism that we wish we could see animate you more often.
Because you wrote this I immediately went back and read the article. Lovely thing and highly suggestive, maybe even hopeful? Of course you hope no one is so enthused as to go out immediately looking for omens to make quick course adjustments. But what would the state of mind be that allowed one to notice the little waves when outer reality coincided with one’s inner tides? Okay Stendhal is my homework.
I partook of the second proclamation of the King. My King. As an atheist republican I shouted ‘God Save The King!’ after singing similar and gave him three cheers and could hardly breathe with patriotic pride. We’re conflicted Mark. We’re Humean beings. I wear my wounds of wounding others with acceptance. As does he. Part of why I find him easy to love. And I do. I love meaningless coincidence and confluence. They are trees falling in the forest and I am there.
I’ve always thought that must be toughest part to deal with. Feeling betrayed by family or community is bad enough but to realize you’ve done the same to others must really twist the knife.
In The End of Apologetics Penner calls for an end of coercion, to the end justifies the means reasoning. Of course that is a markedly new and rare sentiment and many end up doing what they will regret if/when they deconvert. It is the same way street gangs indoctrinate new members. Kill someone and you’ll never leave because you’d never be able to forgive what you’d done so you don’t deserve a better life.
Some maths are meaningless until they are apprehended, and then they can be seen as beautiful and elegant even if they are not fully comprehended.
I like the street gang metaphor. That’s how the ruling class ruin the working class too. It’s why we double down justifying having blood on our hands.
I find the article well written nonsense, a normal tale of cognitive bias. Now Field of Dreams moves me hugely every time I watch it. Because it’s a fantasy. And I’m pre-wired for experience that way by evolution. I thank God I know that now. I feel sorry for Happy Levoy and much prefer Sam Elliot as The Stranger.
Yes we are and I’m also grateful that we are and that I’ve been able to recognize and embrace meaning without letting letting the role that evolution and biochemistry plays in our experience of meaning make it feel counterfeit. After all our capacity for analysis is equally dependent on evolution biochemistry and we feel no compulsion to chuck it in the debris pile. I find the value of moving toward what is meaningful increases life satisfaction. Every step toward meaning gives me that sense of authenticity that the article referred to as being on a path with heart. Isn’t it interesting that a path with heart cannot be deduced in advance by analysis and reason but can only be discovered by living and feeling? I mean one could conduct a study and see what life choices are made by people who report high levels of meaning in their life. But I have more faith in the process of living than to put all my eggs in just the cerebral basket. Besides people with great satisfaction from the meaning they find in their life are somewhat scarce.
Meaningful and beautiful:
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6
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