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My healthy attitude is to live and let live, thereby allowing the other to grow or arrive where you are at! its not ego but overview, be proud in your own conscious thought processing, the stuggle outside that mind's eye operate on creating factors beyond and new possibilities ever reaching into your own aethete for redefining character.

Lu

OK, I cannot resist asking which blog(s) and/or fora in particular hastened you towards this conclusion, although I am well acquainted with the type of forum bullies you outline. If you don't want to state them publicly, drop me an email, and your privacy will be respected....

Bruce

There were two in particular. One was Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature, an interesting blog whose comments section has unfortunately been infiltrated by Randian diehards. The other was this">http://ace.mu.nu/archives/202324.php">this comments thread on Ace of Spades HQ, a right-wing blog. On AoSHQ, I posted under the name "sauropod." All I wanted to do was point out that Arthur Conan Doyle wasn't necessarily crazy for believing in spiritualism (the topic had come up in the context of a news story about Houdini), but the discussion, such as it was, quickly devolved into an argument about James Randi's million-dollar challenge.

Both Ayn Randians and James Randians seem especially obnoxious on the Web. Maybe it has something to do with the name Rand(i)?

Michael,

I share your frustrations and concerns. I have told myself the same thing many times over the years, i.e., there is no point in bucking heads with the scientific fundamentalists any more than there is with the religious fundamentlists. They are stuck in the muck and mire of their fundamentalist beliefs and don't care to entertain anything that conflicts with those beliefs. Still, every now and then, I find myself donning my armor and entering the arena. My intent is not to do battle, but to offer the "combatants" food for thought that might help them see a purpose in life. I cannot bring myself to believe that people can be happy as they "march toward nothingness." So many of them tell me they are happy with that idea, but I find that hard to believe. It may be a shortcoming on my part and self-righteousness in referring to them as stuck in muck and mire.

What are your thoughts? Can a person really be happy with the idea that there is nothing after this life? Of course, age is a factor. Many materialists don't think about this until they are on their death beds. My problem is that I have a hard time repressing the idea of death.

Have you looked at some of the reviews on "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins?
The problem here, as I see it, is that most people think you have to believe in God before you accept survival. If they'd only look at the evidence for survival, they could forget about trying to identify or visualize God, whatever He, She, or It happens to be.

Mike

I've had similar problems with people who take exception to Christianity on forums through the years, it even happened on here a couple weeks ago. The entire internet can be a hostile environment and often is. It used to bother me a lot but it doesn't anymore, life's too short. Private password restricted forums are the only I've ever found where real discussions can take place in a non-hostile environment. Anyone who can't treat the other members in a respectful & civil manner are expelled. New members are given a trial period and then voted on. It sounds harsh but those types of groups I've been in seem to share, discuss, and debate so much more information and ideas, it's amazing and exciting.

I've found that, in general, such forums are dominated by the loudest and most hard-core skeptics, who can be almost comically obnoxious. They seem to enjoy throwing their virtual weight around, responding to any evidence or argument with insults and putdowns."
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Just imagine how hilariously funny it's going to be though when they find that voice inside their head still exists after their body is gone. You know God's got to have a sense of humor. It would be fun to be there to watch them squirm and try and figure it out. Alex Paterson, in his description of his NDE stated, "There is a delicious irony in all this. Most people perceive 'death' as one of the worst evils they could experience in their lives (whether it be their own death or that of loved ones) yet if the experiences of Near Death (NDE) had by so many are anywhere near the 'truth', then the most beautiful experience a human being is ever going to have in this life is his or her own death. The irony of the perceived worst being the best highlights the cosmic humour which seems to underlie the 'Game' associated with experience in this realm." http://www.vision.net.au/~apaterson/esoteric/nde.htm

Belief is irrelevant. Acceptance is irrelevant. Agree or disagree is irrelevant. "God" (whoever or whatever that is) just doesn't seem to care what we believe.

from Michelle M's NDE:
I felt an understanding about life, what it was, is. As if it was a dream in itself. It's so very hard to explain this part. I'll try, but my words limit the fullness of it. I don't have the words here, but I understood that it really didn't matter what happened in the life experience, I knew/understood that it was intense, brief, but when we were in it, it seemed like forever. I understood that whatever happened in life, I was really ok, and so were the others here."
http://nderf.org/michelle_m's_nde.htm

Art,

There is credible evidence suggesting that we carry over our beliefs into the next realm. That is, the atheist remains an atheist, for some time at least, probably not even realizing he or she is dead. Of course, an atheist who leads a good life might very well awaken quickly to the fact that he/she is dead. Those, however, who are combatants on the issue of survival of consciousness probably have ego issues and are more likely to slowly awaken to their condition. Likewise, the devout fundamentalists of religion will like remain a fundamentalist for a time, whatever form time takes in that realm, the Catholic will remain a Catholic, etc.

"Likewise, the devout fundamentalists of religion will like remain a fundamentalist for a time, whatever form time takes in that realm, the Catholic will remain a Catholic, etc."
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My FIL has been a Church of Christ preacher since WWII. He helped start the first Church of Christ in Honolulu, Hawaii. He's a hardcore fundamentalist Christian. He's also eighty-three years old. I've often wondered what it's going to be like for him when he crosses over and finds out that everyone is "saved" regardless of belief. I'd like to see the look on his face. - Art

Michael Tymm wrote,
>What are your thoughts? Can a person really be happy with the idea that there is nothing after this life?

I used to find the idea of personal extinction very depressing, mainly because it suggested that whatever I had accomplished in life was ultimately for naught. After all, I will die, my friends will die, everyone who ever knew me or heard of me will die, so ... what was the point?

I don't find this prospect quite as disturbing as I once did, perhaps because I'm less hung up on defining myself in terms of accomplishments than I used to be. But I still think the idea of an afterlife is uplifting, if only because it holds out the promise of a better existence.

You remember the movie As Good As It Gets? The theme is that life isn't always that great, but you just have to accept it for what it is. That sometimes not-so-great is as good as it gets. But to me, if this life on earth is really as good as it gets, then life is kind of a raw deal. Because for most people on the planet, life is pretty damn bad - it's hunger, pain, disease, poverty, war, oppression. Even for those of us fortunate enough to live in prosperous societies, there's still frustration, loneliness, loss of loved ones, failure, etc. If this life is all there is, it's not that great. But if this life is only a proving ground, and we move on to better things, then the negative aspects of life on earth become a lot more bearable.

>Have you looked at some of the reviews on "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins?

A few. Dawkins bores me. He has a very predictable, hidebound mind. Even most neo-Darwinists recognize that the theory of evolution is still incomplete, but Dawkins seems to think he has all the answers. He is one of the Right Men.

"for most people on the planet, life is pretty damn bad - it's hunger, pain, disease, poverty, war, oppression. Even for those of us fortunate enough to live in prosperous societies, there's still frustration, loneliness, loss of loved ones, failure, etc. If this life is all there is, it's not that great. But if this life is only a proving ground, and we move on to better things, then the negative aspects of life on earth become a lot more bearable. - Michael Prescott
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I'm pretty sure this ain't the main show. Just a school where we learn what it means and how it feels to be separate, unique, individuals. I think it gets a whole lot better.

Randy Gehling (age 10) in his NDE says:
"That was really cool! I kind of felt as though my body exploded - in a nice way - and became a million different atoms - and each single atom could think its own thoughts and have its own feelings. All at once I seemed to feel like I was a boy, a girl, a dog, a cat, a fish. Then I felt like I was an old man, an old woman - and then a little tiny baby." http://near-death.com/experiences/animals04.html

Mark H in his NDE says:
"Suddenly I thought of a mountain, I had seen as a child. When I looked up from the road there it was; The Mountain! Not just the mountain! But the most breathtaking mountain I had ever seen! Details the likes of which no one could imagine. Colors shades of color, shadows for which there are no words in the human language to describe it. All that I saw and felt was as if something was filling my mind with answers, before I could even ask the question. The presence of god was in all things. It was as though the promise of being filled, and overflowing. What your soul desired to see, was filled at that very moment. Everything that your soul needed was met before it could be asked. There is no distance here. So time does not exist. What your soul desires it is! All you desire to know is done! You are filled with the spirit! And you know it! I had never experienced such a feeling of satisfaction in my life." http://www.nderf.org/mark_h's_nde.htm

I'll leave you with this quote:
"Did you know that I was dead ? It was most extraordinary, my thoughts became persons." A..J. Ayer's NDE, http://gonsalves.org/favorite/atheist.htm


Michael and Art,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas. I will close with this:

“The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human mind like nothing else,” wrote anthropologist Ernest Becker in his 1974 Pulitzer prize-winning book, "The Denial of Death." Becker explained that to free oneself of death anxiety, nearly everyone chooses the path of repression. We bury the idea of death deep in the subconscious and then busy ourselves with our jobs, partake of certain pleasures, strut in our new clothes, show off our polished cars, hit little white balls into round holes, escape into fictitious stories in books, at the movies, and on television, experience vicarious thrills at sporting events, pursue material wealth, and seek a mundane security that we expect to continue indefinitely, all the while oblivious to the fact that in the great scheme of things such activities are exceedingly short-term and for the most part meaningless. Becker refers to this “secure” person as the “automatic cultural man.” He is “man confined by culture, a slave to it, who imagines that he has an identity if he pays his insurance premiums, that he has control of his life if he guns his sports car or works his electric toothbrush.”

Becker’s “automatic cultural man” is a modern description of Kierkegaard’s “Philistine.” For Kierkegaard, Philistinism was man fully concerned with the trivial. Of course, if we are not completely selfish, we also involve ourselves in loving, caring for, and serving others. Those acts seem to at least partially give meaning to our lives and validate our existence, until we ask: If our loved are simply marching toward nothingness with us, what is the point of it all? And then, one day, perhaps when it becomes apparent that our days are numbered, those repressed anxieties relating to death begin welling up into the consciousness. We proceed to live our final years under a dark and increasingly foreboding shadow. For the most part, the muddled information provided by orthodox religion offers little relief, little comfort.

Becker called repression of death the enemy of mankind. The theme of his book is that the unrepressed life can bring into birth a new man. Robert Jay Lifton, a distinguished professor of psychiatry and psychology, says much the same thing in his book, "The Broken Connection." He states that we must “know death” in order to live with free imagination.

As I understand it, knowing death is what Montaigne called practicing death, a term which seems to have originated with Socrates. As he put it, according to Plato, practicing death is merely pursuing philosophy “in the right way” and learning how “to face death easily.” It also has been referred to as embracing death. That's what I'm struggling to do.

"For the most part, the muddled information provided by orthodox religion offers little relief, little comfort."

My belief system is based on near death experiences, death bed visions, and the holographic universe. No one has ever been able to explain away to me the amazing parallels between NDE's and the holographic universe. They corroborate one another. Read the online essay about the holographic universe and Mark Horton's NDE. The parallel's are obvious.

The Holographic Universe: http://www.earthportals.com/hologram.html#zine

Mark Horton's NDE:
http://www.mindspring.com/~scottr/nde/markh.html

Art,

My belief system is also based on NDEs, DBVS, as well as credible, discernible spirit communication. I think they all can be incorporated into the holographic universe concept. Since you provided some interesting NDE quotes above, let me offer this one from Frederic W. H. Myers, a famous psychical researcher of the late 1800s, who died in 1901. This was communicated to Sir Oliver Lodge through a medium.

“...if it were possible for the soul to die back into earth life again I should die from sheer yearning to reach you – to tell you that all that we imagined is not half wonderful enough for the truth… If I could only reach you – if I could only tell you – I long for power and all that comes to me is an infinite yearning – an infinite pain. Does any of this reach you – reaching anyone – or am I only wailing as the wind wails – wordless and unheeded?” – Myers

"to tell you that all that we imagined is not half wonderful enough for the truth"
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From my studies of the last six years I suspicion that "heaven" is a place where thoughts are things and consciousness creates reality, where time and space do not exist, and where the feelings of "oneness" and "connectedness" are overwhelming due to it's holographic nature. Another we create our own reality after we cross over. Like the little girl that Dr. Melvin Morse interviewed said, "you'll see, heaven is fun!" - Art

Hi, I've left some comments on your article about NDEs and Keith Augustine's article that you wrote some months ago, I would like to hear your opinion on those.It's an old thread so you may have not seen them. Other posters can of course discuss them as well.

i think there is a enormous amount of evidence for life after death nde,dbv,evp,itc,adc,direct voice mediums,materialization mediumship,the afterlife experiments,proxy-sittings refute mind reading,cross-correspondences,the scole experiments,xenoglossy,reincarnation evidence,ouija board meesages,poltergeist activity,apparitions,photographic evidence for ghosts,parapsychology evidence,quantum physics concepts many-world's interpretation,the holographic universe model,the ether model,the synchronized universe model,remote viewing.

Michael I applaud your decision. I came to the same place after years of the same types of debate; my attempts at respectful and enlightening give and take were met with insults and brick walls, just as you were. This is why we closed the skeptical discussion forum at our site, but we leave it there for folks to read. I finally came to the conclusion that you have to experience some of these things first hand, to even begin to understand the nature of the subject, much less discuss it rationally. Without that experiential understanding, any amount of discussion is just hot air. Those who will believe will not do so because of what they read in other's words and those who will doubt because of what they read from a closed-minded skeptic or cynic had a flimsy basis of understanding to begin with. It's my opinion that it's more productive to spend time with, (and write for) those who have an open mind and don't rely on a fundamentalist viewpoint, whether it's scientific or religious. Open minded skepticism is healthy, and there are some good well-meaning skeptics out there. But my gut feeling is that some people find “skeptical discussion” a convenient mask to hide their need to bully another person.

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