Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If a Creator does not exist

Although this is completely unrelated to what we are currently discussing in class, I have been thinking more about religion lately, and some questions have come to mind. All of our readings are discussing ideas behind religion and a supreme creator. I was wondering for those philosophers who do not believe in a Creator, how would they explain the phenomenon of speaking in tongues? I have witnessed this before from a close individual whom had never lest the United States, and would have never known any other language, they spoke in tongues. I know it is off topic, but I thought someone may have some ideas.


Evan Watson said...

I think this question might be better answered by a psychologist, but I'll give you my little take as someone who does not see evidence for a god in these events. I think it is the result of a psychological phenomenon of a person who is swept up in a very emotional religious environment. Speaking in tongues is also an existing part of what some groups expect to see happen, so the seed is already in their heads that this is a sign of God somehow. Subconsciously, this might lead them to perform this behavior as opposed to some other, once they are swept up by this emotion. So I do not think that speaking in tongues suggests that God is at work, but just that the person is affected by a very emotional environment in which they believe very strongly.

More generally I think speaking in tongues falls under the category of anecdotal experiences. These can include anything like God speaking to you, or seeing some apparition, or miracles of any sort. The problem with these is that they are equally prevalent in many different religions, and therefore do not verify only one belief. Instead, in each tradition, these kinds of stories are taken as evidence verifying their particular beliefs, while the exact same story is being used by someone else to support theirs. For every story you have about an experience, a Hindu or a Muslim has a story from which they are equally convinced about their own experience.

So even if such an experience is actually evidence of a supernatural event, it is still a tremendous leap to claim that it belongs to one particular god and not some other.

Kyle said...

i have two questions with regard to these two posts. first, what does "speaking in tongues" actually mean? is it actually equivalent to some language that is known to humans somewhere on earth, which can be deciphered and translated, or merely gibberish that seems similar to a spoken language? if the former is true, then it seems most likely that "speaking in tongue" would be some sort of unusual genetic phenomena, whereupon the individual somehow had the language embedded in their genetic structure. if the latter is correct, which seems more likely, then it is simply what it is defined as; gibberish.

now the second issue comes to light: how would "speaking in tongues" explain the existence of a god? rather, why would "speaking in tounge" necessitate a god? it seems that if the act can be defined as either of the aforementioned, god could be left completely out of the equation.