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simplicio comments on How to Convince Me That 2 + 2 = 3 - Less Wrong

53 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 September 2007 11:00PM

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Comment author: simplicio 17 December 2010 02:43:27AM *  6 points [-]

Many other people have such experiences, high or no. Some Hindu, some Muslim, some Pagan, some even atheists. To be blunt, do you doubt their sincerity, or their sanity? Why are you epistemically privileged?

Comment author: Xaway 17 December 2010 03:06:07AM 3 points [-]

To the extent that their experiences do not contradict mine, I see no reason to doubt. There is nothing in Christianity that prevents non-Christians from having religious experiences.

But when the experiences of others do contradict mine, such as the revelations Joseph Smith or Mohammed received, I have to doubt their sincerity or their sanity (I don't know which) for the same reason you doubt mine: Because I can't see in their mind and I wasn't in their body when it happened. And if I have to choose between my own experiences and another persons experiences, I choose my own.

But I should mention that of all the people I trust and who have told me their religious experiences (mostly hindu family members) to date none of them has proven a challenge to my Christianity.

Comment author: Jack 17 December 2010 03:20:39AM *  2 points [-]

And if I have to choose between my own experiences and another persons experiences, I choose my own.

Luckily, we need not be limited to those hypotheses. Neither you nor many of the others with similar experiences need be lying or insane. And the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and omni-beneficent deity need not enter into it either. You just have to have brains.

Welcome, by the way.

Comment author: Xaway 17 December 2010 03:36:50AM 0 points [-]

I've considered those kind of explanations, but the nature of the particular experiences which caused me to convert does not lend itself to that kind of explanation.

My policy is to never discuss the details with someone I do not personally know and trust, but I will say this much: the evidence was external and observed and confirmed by trusted others.

In fact if you are familiar with Zero Knowledge Proofs (I'm a crypto geek) the evidence was a type of ZKP that allows me to know with certainty (to the extent that I can trust my own rationality and senses) without enabling me to duplicate the proof.

Comment author: simplicio 17 December 2010 05:51:28AM *  3 points [-]

You're being a very good sport about this; and seconding Jack, welcome!

I have to doubt their sincerity or their sanity (I don't know which) for the same reason you doubt mine: Because I can't see in their mind and I wasn't in their body when it happened. And if I have to choose between my own experiences and another persons experiences, I choose my own.

It is important to understand that if no religious experiences were mutually exclusive with Christianity (nobody ever saw Ganesh or Mohammed), then they would count a lot more strongly as evidence for Christianity. But many are mutually exclusive, and doubting the sincerity of every Sufi mystic who saw God is a move that requires strong evidence.

As to another person's experiences vs your own: I sympathize, I really do. But you need to have some epistemic humility here, and realize that "you" are encoded in about half a kilo of mushy grey stuff that is often very untrustworthy. I for one do not doubt your sincerity (or the Sufis') but I do doubt that you correctly interpreted your experience.