49 – A Conversation about Spiritual Experience and Atheism

Jeremiah has a conversation with his friend Seth Schoen about their adversarial collaboration on spiritual experience. Their collaboration explored the nature of spiritual experience as it is studied empirically from a number of perspectives, and was published on the website Slate Star Codex. This podcast conversation also covers such topics as psychological research on spiritual experience, near death experiences, entheogenic experiences, and how to have conversations across the atheist/theist divide. 

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. My takeaway. This was an interesting discussion about the human ability to know “reality”, and the appropriate level of doubt about what we think we know. All beliefs are, in a sense, rationale since they are based on experience and reason, but not all are profitable – not all lead to life. The proof is in the pudding.

    Even though my knowledge of the elephant (Truth) is partial (a mirror dimly), the elephant is real and my perception of it (Him) is valid and trustable. My understanding of the elephant increases as I continue to surveil and touch it, and speak open-heartedly with others about their experience of the elephant.

    This discussion left me not with more doubt and uncertainty but with greater trust in my partial revelation, and a drive to get more.

    1. This is a great analysis of the overarching theme of the conversation. As you state: “All beliefs are, in a sense, rationale since they are based on experience and reason, but not all are profitable – not all lead to life.”

      I’ve studied (and tried on!) a number of worldviews, and the one that makes me the happiest, most fulfilled, and causes the most growth is Christianity. The proof is in the pudding.

      I think that having a little doubt and uncertainty can be a good thing because it challenges us to dig deeper.

      Thank you for this response.

  2. It is a pleasure to hear such a careful and thoughtful discussion. Questioning our reasons for believing is one of the gateways to deeper understanding. We cannot be afraid of the honest questions we ask, or others ask. My experience is that God will engage about almost anything. And it seems I am always on the way to more, never the complete. I suspect God just wants to keep me talking with Him…..

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