M: I hope you don't mind me weighing in,this was a particularly thought provoking post. I too am an amateur philosopher. But I am not sure philosophy is the right discipline to answer your question from, except to enhance the discussion of "how could we know?"
Here is the section you quite wisely focused on: "Is a believe in the existence of component or realm beyond the physical/material justified? When I use the expression 'physical/material' I include anything that is physical/material, or anything that interacts with the physical/material." M: It seems to me that in a sense this ship has sailed with the advent of knowledge about a level of matter that is so squirrely to our sense-bound intuitions that it does not resemble matter as we know it, even though technically it IS matter from physics. That we do not know all or in some cases very much about this level of reality should give us all some humility about what is real. But for me those who confidently claim to know about a non physical realm through internal experience have not made their case convincingly to me. We have a lot of mystery to explore and I am dubious that anyone has cleared it up from a mystical tradition. I am putting my bet on neuroscience and physics to push back into the mystery in a more satisfying way than has been accomplished by religious and mystical traditions. The deeper reality may be much more amazing than has been speculated about or assumed in those traditions whose stock in trade has been "We have it all figured out already" over "Let's find out." The question could be: how could we know about something non physical? I wish people proposing these ideas would spend more time studying these questions before they announce their assumptions. We need to address how we could be confident of such knowledge knowing how fallible and prone to self delusions humans are with all of our cognitive blind spots. I rarely see this aspect in the intellectual mix of confident assertions from the subjective angle. Then of course you have the whole areas of human knowledge in the arts and humanities which is plenty non physical reality enough for me. We don't have to swing between the polarities of material reductionism and mystical claims to see that there is a lot of worthwhile reality beyond the hard physical. But IMO the better we are prepared to evaluate claims the quicker we will sort out the fascinating and true from the fascinating but bogus. Thanks for opening up a new chapter on the discussion. Does any of this relate to your intention in your post? ---In FairfieldLife@yahoogroups.com, <inmadison@...> wrote : there seem to be 2 questions running through this thread: 1) is a belief in God a mental illness and 2) is a belief in God justifiable. the first question is too cumbersome for me - having the notion of mental illness imbedded in the question . . . and I can't speak as to what a mental illness is, but the question is believing in the efficacy of trickle-down economics a mental illness could be fun : ) Re the 2nd question, I'm skipping is there a proof for the existence of God since it's pretty clear no such proof exists - and I'm suggesting: is a belief in God justifiable? We may believe in many things where there is no direct evidence, or no proof, but yet that belief is justifiable. For example, we may believe someone lied to us, even though we have no proof. [BTW - I am very much an amateur philosopher] I am going to restate the 2nd question as: Is a believe in the existence of component or realm beyond the physical/material justified? When I use the expression 'physical/material' I include anything that is physical/material, or anything that interacts with the physical/material. An individual who did not believe a belief in God was justified, would believe that the material/physical world was sufficient to explain all observable phenomenon, including the existence of the of the physical/material world itself. For me, I think the question is a bit of a red herring, but I admit to having read and heard nuanced and elegant expressions regarding the need for the nonphysical (spiritual) to explain stuff like value, and the moment by moment appreciation of an otherwise brutish world.