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Mormons need to spend more time defending their bosoms.


Montgomery Price

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Most Mormons would agree, the most powerful evidence for Mormonism is the personal experience. At least, when I ask them...

To me, it's odd that debates around boards like these don't often include what Mormons themselves indicate as the very best reason to be LDS. Maybe it's because many of the critics of the church have personal experiences of their own to defend. To me, it's quite the anti-climactic response from those who are so frequently absorbed with the non-spiritual evidences for Mormonism... and frankly, makes much of the fuss over the non-spiritual aspects of Mormonism seem insignificant. But I suppose it's the critics fault for not bringing it up often enough... so, here I am.

Showing that the burning in the bosom experience provides sufficient reason to accept Mormonism should be the only concern for apologists. Because most Mormons would also agree:

Personal experience supersedes any non-spiritual evidence. This is shown to be true by every aspect of Mormonism. Quite uncontroversial. General Authorities affirm this. Members affirm this. Scripture affirms this.

Personal experience is sufficient for conversion. A spiritual exprience can lead to conversion and conversion by scientific or historical evidence is entirely unnecessary. Mormon apologetics can be completely ignored, and no issue is raised by the believing LDS population. In fact, this is the case for millions of LDS who have lived and died without giving any serious consideration to non-spiritual evidence. Many didn't even have access to the scientific and historical resources we have today.

Personal experience is the basis of your conversion... and millions of others. Obviously, if the near universal reason for conversion is shown to be an insufficient reason for accepting the LDS faith, then consider Mormonism a failed religion.

If this all seems readily apparent, you're right... but I only press these points to emphasize the contrast between how critically central the personal experience is to the LDS faith and how little its veracity is discussed.

If the burning in the bosom can't be defended... it's the nail in the coffin for Mormonism. Likewise, if it can be shown to be a valid reason to accept Mormonism, the apologist has all of his work taken care of. Nothing else matters. Amidst all the discussion, I don't think enough attention is paid to this critical challenge.

So, let's settle every debate right now. Why should I accept the personal spiritual experience as sufficient reason to be Mormon?

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Most Mormons would agree, the most powerful evidence for Mormonism is the personal experience. At least, when I ask them...

So, let's settle every debate right now. Why should I accept the personal spiritual experience as sufficient reason to be Mormon?

There's nothing to debate. It's an intensely personal experience that cannot be replicated or examined at will.

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh,

and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." John 3:8.

It is sufficient reason for me to be a Mormon, but irrelevant for you to be a Mormon...except perhaps to

prick your curiosity.

Bernard

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Why should I accept the personal spiritual experience as sufficient reason to be Mormon?

Are you talking about your own personal experience or accepting someone else's personal experience?

If we can't believe our own, personal, spiritual experiences, what can we believe? In my opinion, that is what true religion is all about...a personal experience with God.

Even if you are someone who says they rely, exclusively, on the Bible, as God's word, you would still have had to have had some "experience" that convinced you of that, yes?

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There's nothing to debate. It's an intensely personal experience that cannot be replicated or examined at will.

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh,

and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." John 3:8.

It is sufficient reason for me to be a Mormon, but irrelevant for you to be a Mormon...except perhaps to

prick your curiosity.

Bernard

I should have mentioned... not only does more attention need to be paid to the best evidence for Mormonism because not enough attention is given, but also because it's frankly the most poorly defended.

"Nothing to debate"? Really? It's just too personal?

Are you implying that personal experience, at least yours, is immune to criticism? You can't be.

Still, I'm profoundly unconvinced. Put aside all the possibly valid criticisms there may be of particular personal experiences... the only question I have for you is...

If there's "nothing to debate" when it comes to the personal experience which has led you to Mormonism, do you grant that there's "nothing to debate" when another's personal experience leads them to a contradicting religion?

EDIT: And it's not irrelevant for me. I've had personal religious experiences, I just don't think they're good reasons, at all, to accept Mormonism. But you must, and I want to know why.

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Would be the nail in the coffin for the Bible as well. Luke 24:32

Are you talking about your own personal experience or accepting someone else's personal experience?

If we can't believe our own, personal, spiritual experiences, what can we believe? In my opinion, that is what true religion is all about...a personal experience with God.

Even if you are someone who says they rely, exclusively, on the Bible, as God's word, you would still have had to have had some "experience" that convinced you of that, yes?

We can believe plenty, and many do.

And like I said, this probably isn't explored often enough because those who would attack a Mormon's personal experience, would inevitably attack their own. Fortunately, I don't have that issue. Sorry, you're not off the hook yet.

Maybe the personal experience is poorly defended by many because they don't have it criticized well enough? Do most Mormons only have criticism directed at their experiences from those who don't use the most effective arguments, because those arguments would negate the critic's experience?

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We can believe plenty, and many do.

And like I said, this probably isn't explored often enough because those who would attack a Mormon's personal experience, would inevitably attack their own. Fortunately, I don't have that issue. Sorry, you're not off the hook yet.

Maybe the personal experience is poorly defended by many because they don't have it criticized well enough? Do most Mormons only have criticism directed at their experiences from those who don't use the most effective arguments, because those arguments would negate the critic's experience?

How do you negate someone's personal experience? I suppose you can try and talk them out of it, but it's pretty difficult to deny something that actually happened to you.

I am inactive, btw, but I did have some spiritual experiences, while I was active in the church (also, before and after). I actually did try to deny those experiences I had in the LDS Church, for awhile...or attribute them to other sources, but that bothered me, a lot, because I knew deep down that I had had some real God-experiences. I embrace those experiences, now, even though I am no longer in the church. God can touch us no matter where we are...I really know that, now.

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I should have mentioned... not only does more attention need to be paid to the best evidence for Mormonism because not enough attention is given, but also because it's frankly the most poorly defended.

"Nothing to debate"? Really? It's just too personal?

Yes.

Are you implying that personal experience, at least yours, is immune to criticism? You can't be.

It is sufficient for me to believe. If that is not sufficient to you, deal with it.

Still, I'm profoundly unconvinced. Put aside all the possibly valid criticisms there may be of particular personal experiences... the only question I have for you is...

And I'm profoundly unimpressed by you not being convinced. What can I possibly do with a personal experience that would convince you of anything?

If there's "nothing to debate" when it comes to the personal experience which has led you to Mormonism, do you grant that there's "nothing to debate" when another's personal experience leads them to a contradicting religion?

What would there be to debate? Proposed: My spiritual experience is more valid than yours? For me it is sufficient. Others will have to live by their own light.

EDIT: And it's not irrelevant for me. I've had personal religious experiences, I just don't think they're good reasons, at all, to accept Mormonism. But you must, and I want to know why.

I'm not sure there is anything I can say to you, including giving a detailed catalogue of my experience with God, that could possibly convince you of anything other than to confirm your already-formed conclusion that personal experience is not a sufficient reason to accept Mormonism. Perhaps you could suggest some reason that would be sufficient for you to believe, and we could discuss that.

Bernard

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Yes.

It is sufficient for me to believe. If that is not sufficient to you, deal with it.

"Deal with it"? That's your answer? Care to explain a bit more so you don't seem so childish? Maybe "poor" wasn't the word that describes the common defense of personal experience... maybe "non-existent" is more suitable.

And I'm profoundly unimpressed by you not being convinced. What can I possibly do with a personal experience that would convince you of anything?

That wasn't my original question exactly. My question was "Why should I accept the personal spiritual experience as sufficient reason to be Mormon?" Which happens to concern your own experience, because you believe it valid reason to accept Mormonism. Well sorry, "deal with it" and "too personal" aren't convincing in the least bit. You'll have to try harder.

You also didn't answer my other question. Are you implying that your personal experience is immune to criticism?

What would there be to debate? Proposed: My spiritual experience is more valid than yours? For me it is sufficient. Others will have to live by their own light.

...And would you please address the obvious criticism I was leading you to.

I'm not sure there is anything I can say to you, including giving a detailed catalogue of my experience with God, that could possibly convince you of anything other than to confirm your already-formed conclusion that personal experience is not a sufficient reason to accept Mormonism. Perhaps you could suggest some reason that would be sufficient for you to believe, and we could discuss that.

Bernard

And I'm not sure there is anything I can say to you, either... including giving a detailed catalogue of a spiritual experience you can only gratuitously assert was caused by an false spirit. And if were going accuse others of bias, I'd say that all of what Psychology has to tell us is that your emotional experience makes you much more likely to hold an irrational bias than I... but wait... I'm not sure if said bias allows you to accept this criticism since you haven't answered my question...

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How do you negate someone's personal experience? I suppose you can try and talk them out of it, but it's pretty difficult to deny something that actually happened to you.

I am inactive, btw, but I did have some spiritual experiences, while I was active in the church (also, before and after). I actually did try to deny those experiences I had in the LDS Church, for awhile...or attribute them to other sources, but that bothered me, a lot, because I knew deep down that I had had some real God-experiences. I embrace those experiences, now, even though I am no longer in the church. God can touch us no matter where we are...I really know that, now.

I was pointing out that in order for a religious non-Mormon to effectively show that a Mormon's personal experience is an insufficient reason to believe, they would have to destroy their own justification for believing in their own faith.

The fact that it's difficult to deny something that actually happened to you presumes that your understanding of what occured is accurate, and only shows how powerful the bias produced by the experience is.

And what do you mean "deep down"? How is this a measure of how accurate your experience is? Is there a line with a mark that says "deep" and after crossing this mark does the belief become valid?

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"Deal with it"? That's your answer? Care to explain a bit more so you don't seem so childish? Maybe "poor" wasn't the word that describes the common defense of personal experience... maybe "non-existent" is more suitable.

Yes, deal with it. You're not convinced by my personal experience. OK. I'm fine with that.

That wasn't my original question exactly. My question was "Why should I accept the personal spiritual experience as sufficient reason to be Mormon?" Which happens to concern your own experience, because you believe it valid reason to accept Mormonism. Well sorry, "deal with it" and "too personal" aren't convincing in the least bit. You'll have to try harder.

You don't get it. I'm not trying to convince you of anything. What is there to debate or discuss about a personal experience with God?

You also didn't answer my other question. Are you implying that your personal experience is immune to criticism?

Not implying. Emphatically declaring. Who are you to question what I have experienced? How could I possibly convince you that it is sufficient to convince you of anything?

...And would you please address the obvious criticism I was leading you to.

Which would be.......?

And I'm not sure there is anything I can say to you, either... including giving a detailed catalogue of a spiritual experience you can only gratuitously assert was caused by an false spirit. And if were going accuse others of bias, I'd say that all of what Psychology has to tell us is that your emotional experience makes you much more likely to hold an irrational bias than I... but wait... I'm not sure if said bias allows you to accept this criticism since you haven't answered my question...

I'm not gratuitously asserting anything. I said that others will live by the light they receive. I have said nothing of "evil spirits." That is your bias showing.

Moreover, I don't give a fig about what Psychology (upper-case P) tells about my "emotional" experience.

Psychology (upper-case P) knows nothing about my personal experience with God, nor could It even approach giving a sufficient explanation. I know

it has not been an "emotional" experience and that is sufficient for my belief.

What kind of reason are you looking for?

Bernard

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Yes, deal with it. You're not convinced by my personal experience. OK. I'm fine with that.

You don't get it. I'm not trying to convince you of anything. What is there to debate or discuss about a personal experience with God?

What is there to debate about the foundation of the conversions for millions of Mormons? Which if invalid takes down the LDS faith once and for all? Your faith claims that the personal experience is sufficient reason to believe... I say, prove it. Which inevitably means... debate. Very simple.

If you're not trying to convince me that I would have sufficient reason to convert if I or other non-Mormons had a personal experience, possibly similar to your own, then you don't need to waste your time in this thread... because that's what this thread is about.

Not implying. Emphatically declaring. Who are you to question what I have experienced? How could I possibly convince you that it is sufficient to convince you of anything?

You're emphatically declaring that you will dismiss all criticism of your personal experience... in advance. And again, your words make it seem like you've given up already? It seems you've assumed in advance that I've assumed I won't change my mind. Hypocritical, are we? I'm frankly unimpressed, as well. Have I declared that I am immune to criticism?

Which would be.......?

I was pointing out a contradiction that must be resolved. That is, a personal experience that leads to the Celestial Kingdom, and a personal experience that leads one to the Terrestrial Kingdom. Both are not equal, according to Mormonism. I'd like this claim to be substantiated, given that the superiority of one experience over the other is far from clear.

I'm not gratuitously asserting anything. I said that others will live by the light they receive. I have said nothing of "evil spirits." That is your bias showing.

I was implying that you will. That is, providing what I see as the only response to the contradiction I mentioned above. But just because you're so sure, I can also point out that you're gratuitously asserting that your personal experience is immune to criticism, effectively proving your bias.

Moreover, I don't give a fig about what Psychology (upper-case P) tells about my "emotional" experience.

Psychology (upper-case P) knows nothing about my personal experience with God, nor could It even approach giving a sufficient explanation. I know

it has not been an "emotional" experience and that is sufficient for my belief.

What kind of reason are you looking for?

Bernard

I'm looking for a valid one, and though it's your job as a defender of the faith... you haven't even tried to provide one. It's a silly game to play. The request is simple.

And Psychology has plenty to say about your experience, whether or not you accept it. But that can be explored later... and I think you mean "I know it has not only been an "emotional" experience and that is sufficient for my belief." Do you not?

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What is there to debate about the foundation of the conversions for millions of Mormons? Which if invalid takes down the LDS faith once and for all? Your faith claims that the personal experience is sufficient reason to believe... I say, prove it. Which inevitably means... debate. Very simple.

You still don't get it. I'm under no obligation to prove anything to you or anyone else. What is there to debate?

I like kimchee because of my personal experience with it. You think it smells bad. OK. I still like it, but other

than inviting you to taste it, there's nothing to prove.

If you're not trying to convince me that I would have sufficient reason to convert if I or other non-Mormons had a personal experience, possibly similar to your own, then you don't need to waste your time in this thread... because that's what this thread is about.

If this is your understanding of the LDS concept of testimony, then you are wasting your time on this board.

You're emphatically declaring that you will dismiss all criticism of your personal experience... in advance. And again, your words make it seem like you've given up already? It seems you've assumed in advance that I've assumed I won't change my mind. Hypocritical, are we? I'm frankly unimpressed, as well. Have I declared that I am immune to criticism?

Let's say I have experienced X. What is your response?

I was pointing out a contradiction that must be resolved. That is, a personal experience that leads to the Celestial Kingdom, and a personal experience that leads one to the Terrestrial Kingdom. Both are not equal, according to Mormonism. I'd like this claim to be substantiated, given that the superiority of one experience over the other is far from clear.

An experience that leads one to exaltation is clearly superior to one that does not. My experience is sufficient for me to hope for the former.

I was implying that you will. That is, providing what I see as the only response to the contradiction I mentioned above. But just because you're so sure, I can also point out that you're gratuitously asserting that your personal experience is immune to criticism, effectively proving your bias.

Of course I have a bias. I could no more deny that than deny what I have personally experienced. I could tell you that I prefer the taste of red kimchee over white kimchee, or that

Mrs. Yi's kimchee is much better than Mrs. Chang's kimchee, but you might say all kimchee smells bad, so my personal experience is of no use to you...unless you taste both kinds, and then you still might think I'm deceived that kimchee is tasty. It's my personal experience that kimchee is delicious to the taste. I cannot transfer that experience to anyone else. I can only invite them to try some. If they don't like it,

what are we to argue about?

I'm looking for a valid one, and though it's your job as a defender of the faith... you haven't even tried to provide one. It's a silly game to play. The request is simple.

How does one defend a personal experience. Let's say one receives an answer to a prayer. What would you accept as proof?

And Psychology has plenty to say about your experience, whether or not you accept it. But that can be explored later...

Why the upper-case P? Is psychology that important to you? No, it has nothing to say about my experience because it cannot countenance the existence of God.

Bernard

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What is there to debate about the foundation of the conversions for millions of Mormons?

You seriously want to question the experience of "millions"?

I believe Bernard has answered you quite well. There's nothing more to say. All we can do is bear our testimony of our experiences. All you can do is choose to listen or ignore and if you decide to listen humble yourself and open your heart and mind to receive your own experiences.

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There's nothing to debate.

There's plenty to debate. Is spiritual experience good grounds for believing P? P, in this case, is some sufficiently specific religious claim (e.g. The Book of Mormon is an account of people that actually lived and the stories accurately report real events). If such experiences are good grounds, how does one know that one has had a spiritual experience? Is belief in P mediated through reasoning, or is belief in P directly apprehended (read: implanted directly in the mind by God)?

Also, note that none of this asks you to prove true the content of your personal spiritual experience. Rather, what's asked is whether spiritual experience as possible type of truth-getting is a good type of truth-getting. Is one who engages in this method doing her epistemic duty?

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Are you implying that personal experience, at least yours, is immune to criticism?

Well seeing that no one here can really put themselves into the context of another persons experiences and feelings when they had this personal experience, I would say yes. You cannot criticize what you cannot understand, and none of us can understand what someone else has experienced and felt in there lives sufficiently enough to properly and full understand the significance or insignificance of a spiritual experience.

No man or woman really knows what someone else feels no matter how well they explain things, so demanding physical and tangible evidence that a spiritual experience has taken place, is like demanding the wind to reveal itself.

In both cases all you can do is look at the aftermath of the event, you can look at the destruction after a hurricane and know the power of the wind even though you can never see the wind, you can look at the difference in someone's life after a profound spiritual event and know the power of the Holy Ghost even though you can never see the Holy Ghost.

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Ways that Bernard has said that a personal experience is personal and not sufficient for converting someone else:

4

Of course, my personal experience does not one but me any good at all they cannot feel what I felt at that time. Now what one can do is bear testimony of that experience and doing so can cause others to seek after the Lord and to gain there own spiritual experience and gain there own testimony of the Lord.

What it boils down to though is that each of us can only convert ourselves, we can't convert our neighbor, our spouse, our children, or any other person. All we can do is bear witness that Jesus is the Son of God and share our testimony about the truth of the Restored Gospel.

A testimony of personal spiritual experiences cannot be debated nor refuted, there is only two things one can do with a testimony:

1) Accept that the person is honest about the experience that he is sharing and that the event actually happened,

2)Accept that the person is lying to you (intentionally or accidentally in ignorance) and the event never happened, they just imagined or made it up.

Those are the only options there is no debate, consideration, or any other thing to bring to the table. All one can do is ponder the message and determine for themselves if the witness given to them seems truthful to them.

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So, let's settle every debate right now. Why should I accept the personal spiritual experience as sufficient reason to be Mormon?

In despite of your "I have the nail in the coffin for Mormonism" ego, at least you recognize spiritual experiences. Which you have had with the Bible and the belief in God for who would believe in them without a spiritual experience?

Why haven't you had the same spiritual experiences as us in the Lord's Church? This should be the question to ask yourself for God knows who He has touched so why hasn't He touched you to know His complete truth?

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So, let's settle every debate right now. Why should I accept the personal spiritual experience as sufficient reason to be Mormon?

As a former LDS (who still believes in the Book of Mormon) I would just answer you by saying...

No one is asking you to become "Mormon" because of their personal spiritual experience. They are merely sharing why they became "Mormon". Whether you have your own spiritual experience or not, and what you do with it, is your own business.

But a debate about someone's spiritual expereince, real or perceived, is immeasurably pointless.

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As a former LDS (who still believes in the Book of Mormon) I would just answer you by saying...

No one is asking you to become "Mormon" because of their personal spiritual experience. They are merely sharing why they became "Mormon". Whether you have your own spiritual experience or not, and what you do with it, is your own business.

But a debate about someone's spiritual expereince, real or perceived, is immeasurably pointless.

My response to this is that I don't think you understand the relevant questions with respect to spiritual experience. That isn't to say that if you did understand them, then you wouldn't believe religious things. William Alston is very well aware of the relevant questions, and Alston still strongly believes religious things. Rather, It's just to say that this response seems to indicate that you've missed the point of investigating spiritual experience as a means of believing certain things.

So far as I can tell, MP is not asking for anyone to offer a proof that he (MP) should accept your spiritual experience as evidence of P (where P is some suitable religious claim that you accept). MP is asking a more interesting question than that. MP is asking for some argument to support the claim that he (MP) ought to believe P on the basis of his own such experience, if he had one. Or, more generally, is believing P on the basis of a certain sort of experience (i.e. spiritual experience) good grounds for believing P?

All these responses along the lines of "spiritual experience is too personal that it can't be debated" are good evidence to me that the line of inquiry hasn't even been properly understood on the part of someone who would make such an utterance.

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My response to this is that I don't think you understand the relevant questions with respect to spiritual experience. That isn't to say that if you did understand them, then you wouldn't believe religious things. William Alston is very well aware of the relevant questions, and Alston still strongly believes religious things. Rather, It's just to say that this response seems to indicate that you've missed the point of investigating spiritual experience as a means of believing certain things.

So far as I can tell, MP is not asking for anyone to offer a proof that he (MP) should accept your spiritual experience as evidence of P (where P is some suitable religious claim that you accept). MP is asking a more interesting question than that. MP is asking for some argument to support the claim that he (MP) ought to believe P on the basis of his own such experience. Or, more generally, is believing P on the basis of a certain sort of experience (i.e. spiritual experience) good grounds for believing P?

All these responses along the lines of "spiritual experience is too personal that it can't be debated" are good evidence to me that the line of inquiry hasn't even been properly understood on the part of someone who would make such an utterance.

You, and apparently MP, miss the point. No one is asking him, or you, to believe their spiritual experience- it just is what it is. People ask "Why are you Mormon?" and the spiritual experience IS the reason- at that point the questioner can take it or leave it. There is no proof, and no need to offer proof, of a spiritual experience.

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You need to read a bit more carefully. You said:

You, and apparently MP, miss the point. No one is asking him, or you, to believe their spiritual experience

Before you said that, I said this:

So far as I can tell, MP is not asking for anyone to offer a proof that he (MP) should accept your spiritual experience as evidence of P (where P is some suitable religious claim that you accept).

So, let me say it again in another way. Neither MP, as far as I can tell, nor I are asking for a believer in spiritual experience as a means of getting truth to demonstrate why MP or I should believe their spiritual experience.

MP is not asking the question you think he's asking. You've missed the point.

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So, let's settle every debate right now. Why should I accept the personal spiritual experience as sufficient reason to be Mormon?

Oh gosh, do we have to go through this AGAIN?

Please just get educated- ready my siggy, look up some philosophy of the mind, read some Nagel, ok?

Every single decision you make in your life is founded on personal subjective feelings. You get up in the morning because of subjective feelings, you fall in love because of subjective feelings, you decide who to marry based on subjective feelings, you pick out a car based on subjective feelings, you decide to eat now because of subjective feelings, you decide it's time to take your clothes to the cleaners based on subjective feelings you decide you want to study geology instead of physics based on subjective feelings.

Starting to catch the drift? NONE of these decisions are based on "evidence".

WE DO NOT LIVE OUR LIVES BASED ON EVIDENCE

EVIDENCE GIVES OUR LIVES NO MEANING.

Half the time scientists to research and find "evidence" so they get grant money. That's the truth. So go find some nice lucrative research area and do some research and find your "evidence" and then your life will have meaning so you can leave us alone- ok??

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