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Reminds me of Charles Tart and his Western Creed...

"In my workshops I often have people go through an experiential exercise where I ask them to stand with their hands over their hearts, and recite something I call 'The Western Creed' as if it were a pledge of allegiance. This is a perspective you'll find in almost any science book, and I wrote it up as a deliberate parody of the Apostles' Creed. By and large, it depresses the hell out of people, especially when they realize that they believe a lot of it, and that these beliefs are culturally reinforced. I should say that I happen to love science – I'm a working scientist. As Abraham Maslow said, science can be a marvelous opening-to-growth system if you use it right; or it can be one of the best neurotic defense mechanisms. Science seems to have degenerated into scientism, which is a functioning religion for many people. This scientism has predominated in our society for a while, and it's extremely depressing."

The Western Creed
© 1983 by Charles T. Tart

I believe in the material universe as the only and ultimate reality, a universe controlled by fixed physical laws and blind chance.

I affirm that the universe has no creator, no objective purpose, and no objective meaning or destiny.

I maintain that all ideas about God or gods, supernatural beings, prophets and saviors, or other nonphysical beings or forces are superstitions and delusions. Life and consciousness are totally identical to physical processes, and arose from chance interactions of blind physical forces. Like the rest of life, my life and consciousness have no objective purpose, meaning, or destiny.

I believe that all judgements, values, and moralities, whether my own or others', are subjective, arising solely from biological determinants, personal history, and chance. Free will is an illusion. Therefore, the most rational values I can personally live by must be based on the knowledge that for me what pleases me is Good, what pains me is Bad. Those who please me or help me avoid pain are my friends; those who pain me or keep me from my pleasures are my enemies. Rationality requires that friends and enemies be used in ways that maximize my pleasure and minimize my pain.

I affirm that churches have no real use other than social support; that there are no objective sins to commit or be forgiven for; that there is no retribution for sin or reward for virtue other than that which I can arrange, directly or through others. Virtue for me is getting what I want without being caught and punished by others.

I maintain that the death of the body is the death of the mind. There is no afterlife, and all hope for such is nonsense.

I read that when the first subjects were being recruited for the Stargate program (see Targ, et al) the first set of subjects were drawn from military personnel and similar operatives who were documented to have been in situations that they shouldn't have survived, but some how did. The more frequently, the better. Consistent survival in extreme complex life threatening situations above and beyond the odds associated with mere chance was thought to be indictative of innate psi. I tend to agree.


I don't know if it's someone looking out for you - someone up there having your six - or if it's part of a greater plan, though I suspect it's the case that spirits do intervene.

Mostly I think it may be our own subconscious psychological instincts combined with true psi ability that get us through. IMO, we are co-creating the story and meaning of our lives in harmony (or disharmony) with higher orders of intelligent organization that could be said to be at the level of spirits and god's. IMO, there is no single GOD that is micromanaging any of this, let alone our own puny lives.

When in harmony with higher organizational schemas, we make it through. When in disharmony, we perish. The flip side being that sometimes perishing can also be a sign of being in harmony - as in sometimes our deaths or lesser misfortunes are sacrfiices that further a plan/organizational order that is bigger than our own egos.

At any rate, I really don't believe that Tart believes what he says he believes. Else, why even get out of bed? Why not just lie there, on welfare, mindlessly hooked up to some pleasure giving drug (like heroine and/or extasy), until death? Something, some calling, some sense of meaning, is impelling him to fulfill a kind of mission in life, even if that is to be a dry uninspiring sour puss.

In fairness, there are those, IMHO, who take the "everything happens for a reason" philosophy too far. I expressed my disdain for this approach to life recently on the great Remembering the Titanic debate. Random chance does seem to operate in the world and it seems to operate most heavily on those with less operational psi ability.

In fact, I think there is a feedback loop that is either positive or negative with regards to how we see the world (i.e. mechanical versus spiritual). If an event that we instinctively know is random strikes and its impact is strongly negative, then we start sliding toward a tart perspective. The more move to tart's world view, the less operational our psi. On the other hand, if we experience an event that we instinctively know involved psi and a connection to something higher, the more open we are to the idea that there are greater forces at play and the more our connection to those becomes operational.

When I have taken the time to get into the heads of people holding the Tart perspective I usually find that early in life some things happened that disappointed them, hurt them, even angered them. They then shut down their psi-side as a reaction and never got over it.

In their cloud of angst they miss the nuances and sublties of the thinking of people like most who post/comment here. Mostly they are railing against those on the other extreme end of the spectrum, easy target that they are.

It's funny because when I was at breakfast today, I thought on questions about the destiny.

I do not know if there is a destiny or if there is a final purpose to reality, but that is not true that everything that happens has a purpose does not mean that nothing happens to us has a purpose. Two extremes: everything that happens to us has a purpose, nothing that happens to us has a purpose. It seems to me quite clear that both statements are false, because many things happen every day seemingly arbitrary and would be difficult to see its purpose, but then, many things we do to build a society have a clear and precise purpose. The most reasonable positions usually start with some, not all or none.

So some things have no purpose and other things have purpose. But is there a ultimate purpose for all of reality? I do not know and I doubt that somehow can be known, but I would be inclined to consider that if history has many purposes, nature has no purpose. Is this materialism? Maybe, but remains compatible with the existence of the afterlife, because there is no necessary connections between the afterlife and the ultimate meaning of reality, or between the afterlife and God. In fact the afterlife is probably a fact of natural world compatible with materialism. And the doctrine that there is no ultimate meaning is unsatisfactory not imply that it is false, as you well know, but we do not know if it is true. So we are as before.

"IMO, there is no single GOD that is micromanaging any of this, let alone our own puny lives." - no one
--------------------------

According to Mellen Benedict's description of the Light in his NDE we are all part of God in the same way that a cell is part of the body. Another words, we are in essence "God." We are all connected and out separateness is an illusion.

No One,

Charles Tart doesn't believe in his "Western Creed." He wrote that creed in order to clarify in stark detail what materialism implicitly teaches in regard to values. Tart came out with a book three or four years back called "The End of Materialism" and has been a proponent for many years of transpersonal psychology which posits a spiritual reality.

The "Western Creed" is what many believe when they make the arguments they do for a completely material existance without the possiblity of anything more. The reality of Matthew Hutson's article, as Michael points out in his summary of what is really being said, is that he's basically reciting the same "Western Creed," albeit at a different angle, with a more narrow topic.

As no one points out, however, there is an extremism the other way when some take the opposite position. EVERYTHING happens for a reason. Really? I'm pretty sure there's some intervention from beyond in some parts of our lives, based on the evidence, but the evidence also shows that there's no perfection in how that intervention comes, just like we as human beings are imperfect.

Point being, it may be misguided to assume that intervention is always going to be some perfect fairy tale story where the gods come to save the day, the world fills with a brillant white light, and all is beautiful. From what I read, those in the spirit world, screw up just as much (or maybe more) than they did while on earth.

Thank you for reminding me why this habitual blog avoider made a habit of yours - an ever sober yet substantial shield against the ventings of the fundamaterialists.

Speaking of Salon, there's an article today, "Near Death, Explained" http://bit.ly/JdRmXZ. Needless to say, several materialists have an angry in the comments section. They seem to enjoy telling everyone else how stupid they are. The story itself seems pretty well-balanced, and is excerpted from "Brain Wars."

Kathleen, I came across Matthew Hutson's article while looking for the NDE piece, which Matt Rouge had mentioned to me. The NDE article was written by Mario Beauregard, coauthor of The Spiritual Brain. I think he sometimes is a little too quick to dismiss skeptical objections, but it's nice to see an informed dualist perspective in a mainstream publication.

"He may say he's being scientific, but really he's operating on the basis of unstated materialist assumptions, which he holds, evidently, as an article of faith."

I couldn't agree more, Michael. And as we know, the best cure for materialist assumptions is to have a spiritual experience of one's own. For some people it can be triggered by coming close to death, and for others, by meditation, dreams, or other means.

Which is why I'm so excited about today's article in the New York Times entitled "How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death".

The Times has had some great pieces in the past few years on the renewal of sanctioned research into these substances, and this is one of the best. Specifically, patients come to the realization that death is not the end. And when the New York Times takes seriously the notion of an afterlife, that's news that's fit to print!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/magazine/how-psychedelic-drugs-can-help-patients-face-death.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=magazine

I'm glad you mentioned the Times article, Bruce. I am so glad that the valid healing properties of these substances, which are so unlike any others, are becoming known to credentialed healers and are being used to help those in need.

It's too bad there is so much seeming obligatory dismissing of use by dilletantes, but I can understand why there is a sense of need to. Overall, a positive development.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/magazine/how-psychedelic-drugs-can-help-patients-face-death.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=magazine

I'm glad you mentioned the Times article, Bruce. I am so glad that the valid healing properties of these substances, which are so unlike any others, are becoming known to credentialed healers and are being used to help those in need.

It's too bad there is so much seeming obligatory dismissing of use by dilletantes, but I can understand why there is a sense of need to. Overall, a positive development.

Glad to get some support on this, no one. I don't think it can't be overstated what a profound development it is that these substances are gradually becoming accepted as having extraordinary potential to foster healing.

One of the commenters said--and there were many great comments--that the reason psychedelics are banned is that the mind-opening experiences they give rise to threaten the status quo. If that's true, and I think it is, then the war on drugs is a war on states of consciousness, a war on genuine spirituality.

Now some would argue that the government is simply doing its best to protect us against the dangers of misguided use. If that were the case, alcohol and tobacco would be illegal, because they're both proven killers. Not to mention that neither has the powerful benefits psychedelics have when used well.

Why can't psi and the afterlife be proven the way so many other facts of life can? Because we legislate against the states of consciousness within which these phenomena are seen to be self-evident.

It's as simple as that.

And it's no coincidence that NDEs and psychedelics are gradually gaining acceptance simultaneously, as evidenced by this article praising both psilocybin and the re-discovery of life outside the body. In the New York TImes, no less!

It probably goes without saying, but in my first sentence, leave out "I don't think" or change can't to can. Your choice. :o)

Timely blog article for me as I have been mulling this topic myself.

On one hand, I am a miraculous survivor, having defied death on more than one occasion. In one instance, a violent automobile collision, I could explain my walking away without a scratch due my use of a seat belt or due to the cars hitting at just the right angle to spare me. In that same incident, I could not explain, in the instant prior to the collision, the stoppage of time as I perceived it, nor the intense vibration I experienced, as if my entire being was being enveloped in some sort of high energy field. Yes, I walked away feeling "lucky", even though my car was totaled.

Personally, my sense of purpose in life is something with which I was born, something innate.

On the other hand, perhaps the argument over materialism vs spiritualism is moot. We may be spiritual beings at our core, (as I believe) and if so, we have obviously chosen to experience a material existence, for whatever reason, so I am open to embracing the material world and all that it entails. We aren't accidental tourists.

Bruce, in addition to what said regarding the war on - which I whole heartedly agree with - it's really a war on our own citizens. We fight other wars, ostensibly to promote "freedom" and "democracy" yet we have a proportionally larger % of our own population incarcerated than than the Soviets (aka the "evil empire") did in the hayday of the gulags. Ridiculous hypocrisey.

There is always going to be a strong contigency of calvinists who abhor the idea that spiritual realization can come from a chemical. Fine. Let them believe what they want to, but I want to to be free from having their beliefs imposed on me.

Making psychedelic mushrooms illegal? Good luck with that officer Krumpke. In another month or so they will be sprouting up, quite naturally, all over my pastures and my neighbors' pastures as well. Another species in the genus will begin appearing in the woods on dead and down trees in July and yet another among coniferous trees and debris this fall.

I am disturbed by stories of irresponsible usage posted on the internet by stoner/partier types. I am certain that these detract from the potential for societal acceptance. My perspective is that idiots will abuse and get into trouble in a wide variety of ways and laws shouldn't be developed to keep the lowest elements safe from themselves - because that is impossible. They will always find a way to screw up and inflict self damage.

ugghhh....multi tasking = typos.

anyhow, the % in prison is largely due to drug laws.

"we have a proportionally larger % of our own population incarcerated than than the Soviets (aka the "evil empire") did in the hayday of the gulags"

That's such an important point!

"they will be sprouting up, quite naturally, all over my pastures and my neighbors' pastures as well"

Now I understand why you live where you do. :o)

"Let's leave aside the fact that Hutson can't possibly know whether or not there is a larger meaning..."

Oh, let's not. Because the fact, the honest, objective fact is, that if Hutson can't possibly know if someone up there has or hasn't "got your back", and he thereafter holds that no one has, then it follows that he has chosen what he will believe.

Welcome to the believer's club, Matthew Hutson! And do the materialist faithful hold regular services?

Bruce and No One:

How do you reconcile a materialist argument that drugs/substances alter our state of mind, and therefore show that spirtuality and the "connection" you feel is within the mind, and nothing more? And what about people that have "bad trips", what happened to their spirituality/connection? I can just hear the argument now, "of course you're going to feel good, that's what they're suppose to do!"

I don't have an opinion on whether drugs can give an actual spirtual connection or whether they just cause a disorientation/hallucination/delusion of the mind. But I do see a lot of lives destroyed by heavy drug use (although, probably not with the kind that Bruce is referring to - psycedelics).

I'm unfamiliar with the subject matter, so pardon my ignorance, but I am very curious to hear your answers.

Sleepers,

Basically my perspective is the radio as receiver model of consciousness. The music out on the airwaves exists independently of the hardwires of radio. Where you set the dial on the radio, however, determines what music you hear....destroy the radio - or a piece of it - and you lose the ability to hear music (if it's your only radio), but the music still exists......sometimes, due to habitual thought patterns, egocentricity, social/cultural pressures, etc the 'dial' gets stuck on a certain station and the longer it is stuck the more stuck it gets......psychedelics act on the hardwiring of the radio (aka your brain) in a way that keeps you alert and wide awake, yet alters the setting of the 'dial' so that you are able to perceive 'music' beyond your habitual setting(s).

Psychelics do create some meaningless 'noise' and this is where I think there is some psychological danger. It takes a fairly stable mentality to know what is noise and what is valuable, but most people can do this fairly well, IMO.

The psychedelics are not like other drugs, alcohol, cocaine, opiates, cannabis........the action and effects are totally - radically - different. Also they are non-addictive. In fact, their effects diminish to about zero in about three days if daily use is attempted. Most people don't want to use that frequently because the effects are so profound and take a while to integrate.

I agree that narcotics can destroy lives. I've seen it myself. Though I think that most people can and do handle even these for recreational purposes. The problem with drug abuse and addiction is that the train wrecks tend to be most salient. The users who handle these things - the majority - just don't come to our attention because, well, they're not a problem. It's kind of like bad drivers. They're obvious because they have accidents.

Oh, and bad trips do happen. Still I think that there is often much spiritual value in a "bad trip". If you're looking for a feel good happy time, psychedelics are probably not for you (not you, specifically, Sleepers, but the generic "you").

IMO, an overly possessive ego is usually at the root of a bad trip and the "badness" of the trip can often be overcome by letting go a little, forgiving a little, loving oneself a little more. Then the "bad" part is often re-examined and found to be very informative and even liberating. It, however, for some be a rough process at first.

Sleepers, I agree with no one's radio analogy. You can smash the radio, but the music lives on because it originates elsewhere. You can even make precise correlations as to this faulty transistor causing that particular symptom, but it doesn't mean you know a thing about where the music is coming from.

As to bad trips, I disagree with no one that the problem is "meaningless noise". I think it's likely that everything that happens during a psychedelic session is drenched with meaning.

Many of the frightening or painful episodes have their origin in our personal history, a fact that's been thoroughly explored and described by people like Stan Grof. He used LSD (when it was legal) to uncover and deal with feelings that may long have been repressed and hidden, some of them stemming from birth and even before, to what we call "past lives".

Bruce, hopefully we are not dragging this thread permanently off course, especially given our host's distaste for conversations on drugs, but you misunderstood me about "bad trips" and noise.

As I wrote, I think bad trips *do* have value and can provide much useful insight. In fact even good trips often have some painful aspects that, once worked through, lead to liberation and extasy. So I agree with you.

That said, some times a bad trip can be the result of failing to respect the need for proper set and setting. Psychedelics will usually render a user hyper sensitive to deeper levels of meaning and ramifications of actions (kind of life review like sometimes). If taken in the company of mean spirited people or around too much chaos and disharmony, those negative energies can set the user off in an unpleasant direction.

My comment about "noise" was more in reference to user experiences I see posted on druggie websites wherein the user appears to gain little of spiritual value and the reports seem to concentrate purely on the tripping side effects as opposed to insights. Actually, I have known some people, personally, who use these substances merely to enhance the wildness of a rave event - not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that sort of purpose, just that it is not going to lead to the kind of gain that Grof, et al describe.

Skepticism seems often to me to be nothing more than cowardice wrapped in disdain. The skeptic is frightened by the possibility of a wider, more significant reality. The skeptic would prefer to remain under a rock rather than explore beyond the limits of said rock, and so he or she insists there is nothing other than the rock.

"On the other hand, perhaps the argument over materialism vs spiritualism is moot. We may be spiritual beings at our core, (as I believe) and if so, we have obviously chosen to experience a material existence, for whatever reason, so I am open to embracing the material world and all that it entails. We aren't accidental tourists."

I am with you Darren C. I really do appreciate and respect the laws of gravity! I am really glad that science has dveloped anti-biotics!

But why can't we have both good science for our physical existance and spirituality for our souls?

It seems to me that the outspoken materialists may see themselves as self appointed knights fighting a battle, but that battle was won towards the end of the Renaissance period. Reason and enlightenment won out over the oppression of the church.

It's over, ok? And there will be no way of life threatening insurgency because science has not only proven itself to be extremely useful, but we are also utterly dependent on it. Our society would collapse and individuals would die in epic historic proportions if science were supplanted by something akin to the rules circa 1300 AD. Ain't gonna happen.

So I have to lean towards what r emmet lee says (above). It's all about some personal control/fear issues.

Skepticism seems often to me to be nothing more than cowardice wrapped in disdain. The skeptic is frightened by the possibility of a wider, more significant reality. The skeptic would prefer to remain under a rock rather than explore beyond the limits of said rock, and so he or she insists there is nothing other than the rock.

And your evidence for this claim is?

well then, sbu, what, in your opinion, motivates the vehement materialist skeptic?

Some other possible motivations for skepticism are discussed in an old blog post of mine called "Homily for the Holidays."

http://tinyurl.com/6uzdkr8

I think there's a variety of motives. It's not helpful to demonize those we disagree with. Besides, any psychological attack can always be turned around. For instance, if we say, "You skeptics are afraid of facing a larger reality," the skeptic can reply, "You believers are afraid of facing the fact that physical life is all there is."

You are right, Michael concerning demonization and over-generalization.

However, people can say whatever they want to and that doesn't make their point valid; and i think that would be the case if your attack turn around exchange were to occur (actually, it does occur). I would say that, using accepted principles of scientific inquiry, we have had the courage to examine all of the evidence pro and con in a fairly objective and honest manner and have come to the conclusion that something paranormal is going on.

The hard core skeptics cannot honestly make the same claim. They are consistently caught ignoring evidence that does not fit their assumptions and, quite frankly, they are frequently caught using arguments that are disingenuous. IMO, they have proven themselves to indeed be the more closed minded group in the debate.

So they could our words back at us, but they would lack force and validity.

well then, sbu, what, in your opinion, motivates the vehement materialist skeptic?

I have no idea - but the hostility goes both ways. Stereotyping is usually not helpful in a discussion. I believe most sceptics are rejecting evidence for the paranormal as they aren't finding it compelling. It's as simple as that, there are no hidden motives etc.

sure - some sceptics are quite militaristic. Like the Myers who refutes the Salon article here http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/04/24/the-nde-delusion/
I only managed to read the first 10 lines as I'm also getting fed up with the crusaders of scientific rationalism and spritiual extinction.

"Stereotyping is usually not helpful in a discussion."

You are correct as was Michael when he called some of us (myself included) on doing that.

"I believe most sceptics are rejecting evidence for the paranormal as they aren't finding it compelling. It's as simple as that, there are no hidden motives etc."

This I don't buy because, in large part and as evidenced by the article you link to and the comments that follow, I don't see where most hard core skeptics even thoroughly examine the evidence before rejecting it as non-compelling. That, or they propose 'could have been' scenarios as counter explanations that are more improbable and just plain silly that the paranormal explanation, but for the fact that they are materialistic scenarios. Worse, the counter scenarios usually ignore important facts.

While it is difficult to assign motive to any individual's failings in this regard, when a pattern begins to emerge it doesn't seem so unreasonable to me to engage in some speculation as to motive.

That fact that animosity goes both ways says less than you may think it does. I assume you are a upright gentleman, sbu. Let's say someone who knows you, a friend of yours, agrees with that assumption. Let's say someone else who doesn't know you says that you beat your wife. Insists you do.

Let's say the friend and the stranger making the accusation argue over whether or not you are a wife beater. The friend presents all sorts of evidence in your defense. The accusatory stranger scoffs at the "evidence"; ignoring substantial portions of it and twisting, with contortionist logic, other aspects to fit his wife beater accusation. Animosity arises between the friend and the accuser. Do we decide that the friend and the accuser are equal in their arguments and positions and equally justified (or unjustified) in their animosity?

More to the point, I think the hostility that you see between so called "skeptics" and so called "believers" arises on each side for different reasons. I really do read the skeptics as arogant, disdainful, condescending, ill-informed, close minded and sometimes just plain mean spirited. It's right there in front of us leaping of most everything they put out there. Again, look at the article you linked to and the related comments. From what I have seen, I don't think that link is atypical.

Then you have the other camp; people like our host (MP), Chris Carter, Dean Radin, Russell Targ.......too many to list easily.......that are looking at evidence and going it where it takes them, sometimes reluctantly, sometimes rejecting that which is unsubstantiated, sometimes demonstrating flexibility by changing their perspective based on evidence; demonstarting attitudes that are consistent with real scientific inquiry.

One camp's animosity arises from frustration that the real science of the paranormal that they are dedicated to is pooh poohed as woo woo and the other camp's animosity arises from ......what exactly? It seems that is was always there as a instinct to attack and denigrate anything that does not agree with their chosen world view.

I really don't see the animosities as the same.


It seems mostly to be an ego boost, hardcore materialism. A kind of tough guy approach - "The universe is random and meaningless, and you aren't the author, nor even the proofreader. But I, tough and wise materialist, can face this bleak existence, and sail these merciless seas like a pirate."

Or I could put it this way: Athiests say the universe does not need a Creator to exist. I say, hey, science does not need materialism to exist, but, possibly lacking any other option or set of tenets, creed, code, athiesm needs science. Science itself seems to be beginning to suggest that the hardcore materialist way of perceiving consensus reality may just be in some extent, greater or lesser, in error. And as far as the benefits of science, I have pointed out that it wasn't religious types who fathered the atomic bomb, the planet killer - it was athiests. Robert J. Oppenheimer was apparently an embittered athiest.

Addressing another question: What do you think of this article that has appeared above?
http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/04/24/the-nde-delusion/

My opinion on the article. In this article we have three main claims: the supposed veridical NDEs are always collected second-hand, anecdotal and uncontrolled as to be scientifically valid, the ECM does not occur when brain activity is flat but occur sooner or later and is not physically possible an invisible entity that can see their surroundings as appears to occur in the ECM with extracorporeal experiences.

Well, on the first claim, we note that while there is no veridical ECM recorded under laboratory conditions, or maybe yes, I do not know, there are many cases of veridical ECM collected by nurses and doctors over the years, cases that are not always invalid because not be experimental because the evidence is gathered by competent and trained observers. Pseudoesceptic fallacy: that all testimony is considered invalid and suspect. Another fallacy: assuming that certain imaginary scenarios about how the patient was able to obtain accurate information during ECM through the known senses are true only because they are logically possible, when these scenarios are extremely unlikely and there is no evidence in favor of them.

Then we have cases of patients who know that their experiences occurred during the flat brain activity because they said they perceive certain events that occurred when their brain activity was flat.

Finally, we can ask who told us that the soul has to be perceived by the photons? If there is a soul could perceive its environment through other particles unknown to actual science. Another fallacy: assuming that if something exists, it must necessarily be some consequences, when it need not be.

"But I, tough and wise materialist, can face this bleak existence, and sail these merciless seas like a pirate."

LOL. That's a good line. Certainly true of some materialists. I think William James made a similar observation somewhere in his writings. He was amused by how dogmatically the materialists of his day insisted that life is meaningless, bleak, and hopeless.

Still, I'm not as critical of materialists (in terms of motive) as some here are. Besides the various perfectly understandable motives I listed in my "Homily for the Holidays" post (linked above), there's also another motive that occurs to me. Many scientists are justifiably awed by the beauty, elegance, rationality, and predictability of the physical world. They take a deep, almost aesthetic pleasure in grasping why soap bubbles form in the sink or why leaves turn red in autumn. The paranormal upsets them because it introduces discordant notes into this beautiful symphony. It just strikes them as deeply wrong, in much the same way that introducing rap music into "Madame Butterfly" would offend an opera lover or introducing randomness into the rules of chess would offend a grandmaster. It's an assault on their sensibilities and values.

And this isn't a trivial matter. After all, it took heroic efforts by some of the best minds on earth over many centuries to build up the modern scientific worldview.

"They take a deep, almost aesthetic pleasure in grasping why soap bubbles form in the sink or why leaves turn red in autumn."

You know, MP, that has never occurred to me, but I think you are on to something. A lot of truth in that thought. It's a fair statement.

IMO, it still doesn't excuse dishonest arguments or off hand dismissals of that which offends. It does make them more understandable.

"The paranormal upsets them because it introduces discordant notes into this beautiful symphony."

It's ironic, because for me it works exactly the opposite. (And I'm sure for you and others here, too).

The discordant notes that offend ME most of all are suffering and meaninglessness. And it's only through coming to terms with psi and the spiritual aspects of existence that I've been able to find answers that seem both pragmatic and fundamentally valid.

Good point, Bruce, but from a materialist perspective the suffering and meaninglessness are not discordant. Somewhere Richard Dawkins writes about some random tragedies that made the news, then concludes that we shouldn't be surprised by such things because they are exactly what we would expect in a universe of blind causes. To him, the various tragedies were apparently somewhat reassuring, inasmuch as they reaffirmed his worldview - rather like atheists who relish stories of a church collapsing on the congregation or a bus full of nuns going over a cliff. Their attitude is: "You see? What kind of God would let that happen?"

"from a materialist perspective the suffering and meaninglessness are not discordant"

You're right, of course. I guess for each of us, it boils down to whether we're satisfied with, "Pain? Death? Of course. What do you expect from a rotten universe like this!"

Many scientists are justifiably awed by the beauty, elegance, rationality, and predictability of the physical world. They take a deep, almost aesthetic pleasure in grasping why soap bubbles form in the sink or why leaves turn red in autumn.

I absolutely agree with this (scientific realism to the extreme). Everything is attempted to be fitted into mathematical models. String theories are a good example of this - nice mathematics with no reality behind it.

Leave aside also the fact that many of the most enlightened figures in history have said quite plainly that there is a higher purpose and meaning to life, and that the great error of most people is to deny it or not even to look for it. Whole civilizations and cultures have been built on these teachings, and most art, at least prior to the 20th century, reflects this worldview.

There isn't a contradiction between science and spirituality. Belief is the problem. Radical skeptics and radical believers without evidence are the problem. Everybody else is sane.

The meaning of my comment 'science does not need Athiesm, but Athiesm needs science' has a bit of a subtext - in that there are all kinds of scientists, of all kinds of beliefs, or world views, but it seems the only thing that Athiests (I have a personal set of labels, small a athiesm, which are athiests as people, and capital A Athiesm, which is generally the concept.)seem to have, as a resource, is science. At least currently - I've no serious knowledge of the philosophical history, just a general knowledge.

Given that, some of my other arguments are-so, as the materialists claim, the universe came from nothing (Just as miraculous as a Creator making a universe) and is ultimately random and meaningless, then, from a metaphysical point of view, say we leanr everything there is to know, down to how many atoms there are in the universe, about the universe - what then, is the usefulness or purpose of this knowledge? You've gone all the way to the end of the story, just to find out it was all a bunch of random stuff, that one can take no meaning from, and is, instead, compelled to fritter about studying the 'beauty and wonder' of soap bubbles, or cometary orbits.

I affirm that the universe has no creator, no objective purpose, and no objective meaning or destiny.

I guess for each of us, it boils down to whether we're satisfied with, "Pain? Death? Of course. What do you expect from a rotten universe like this!"

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