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Bravo Michael! I concur. All of that needed to be said.

As an aside, re; infantalization and becoming effette, I am already deeply regretting my vote for Obama - not that it would matter if I had voted eslewise, living in NY - but it's the priciple that counts.

no one said:

"As an aside, re; infantalization and becoming effette, I am already deeply regretting my vote for Obama"

You mean your vote last November? What's he done since then to piss you off?

I'm realizing that this could detour us into messy political waters, but I am truly curious. It can't be about wanting to restrict access to the most egregiously inappropriate weapons? Or letting gays become Boy Scouts?

Say it ain't so!

Wait a minute--it's about letting women assume combat roles. That must be it. My opinion is less well formed on that subject. But surely there are two good sides to the argument. You can't "deeply regret" your vote just for that, can you?

Bruce, women in infantry MOS' is just plain f'ing retarded. I can't think of a better way of putting it. No country on earth does this. Infantry is NOT sitting in a cupola in an armored vehicle behind a ma duece, nor is it flying a helo around (which some women do these days). It is humping an 85 pound pack + ammo+weapon+commo gear up and down any terrain for days on end. It means carrying a wounded man on your back on top of all that gear, while you're being shot at and returning fire.

Do we really want women to have to endure the brutal foulness that is infantry combat all because some ivory tower feminists concocted the bizarre notion that gender is merely a social construct and because such fringe elements comprise a substantial portion of Obama's base?

And yes, the standards will be lowered so Obama can look good to his base by filling quotas, qualified or not.

Simultaneously, he wants to cut military benefits for veterans. My son just got back from A-stan. he went through hell there. Blast concussion on 4 different ocassions. Traumatic brain injury (I think he'll be ok in the long-run). He had to kill people. he had to burn six uniforms because they were soaked with the blood of his men - two of whom were killed, several wounded severally (one had his penis shot off and another lost a leg. Yet another will have a colostomy bag the rest of his life).

Obama would rather spend my tax $s on illegal immigrants and welfare mooches than on my son and vets like him. The guy is scum pandering to the lowest and weirdest elements of society.

I don't care about gays. As long as they're pulling their weight they should every right that everyone else does and be free from descrimination.

Also, yes on the guns thing. The 2A says they are a right. Don't like it, change the Constitution by holding a convention as outlined in the doc itself. Don't nibble away at it. Some might be happy about eroding the 2A. They won't be so happy when the 1A, etc gets the same treatment.

Then there's the whole kill list thing which Obama seems to delight in micromanaging. Assassination is illegal. Assassination of suspected American citizens sans due process is doubly illegal.

Then there's all the welfare and entitlement pandering. Tax and spend. Tax and spend. My hard earned money is promised to go at an increasing rate to slugs that don't work and pop out babies, etc, etc.

I knew it was the end when I heard comrade Obama's inaguration speach. The guy is out of control.

Buddhism is is all about dealing with suffering, but suffering in a much wider sense, encompassing all that's said here and much more.

"I knew it was the end when I heard comrade Obama's inaguration speach. The guy is out of control."

Right on. Comrade Lincoln also gave many speeches that indicated the end of times.

Obama will probably seek to trademark "Suffering" so he can then sell his "cure" to all the utopianists that don't want to cowboy up.

Wait a minute, that's exactly what he's doing.

No one, thanks for responding in detail and satisfying my curiosity about your feelings re Obama. For a variety of reasons, I think I'll pass on getting into a debate with you about this stuff.

When I was in the 10th Grade my high school English Teacher said that every story has to have conflict. She said without conflict there is no story.

It seems to me it's always the people with the most who complain of pain the most. The guy panicking over a rash, the guy complaining that his kid didn't make it into an Ivy League, the person constantly moaning in the workplace. I can't help despise those kinds of people. So I agree with Michael there. These kind of people identify too much with their ego and physical bodies. We're all guilty of that to some degree, but it seems a lot of people could benefit from a big dose of humility, and a little course in Buddhism wouldn't hurt either.

I felt compelled to add to my previous remarks. There are of course people and other living creatures who do deserve our compassion, who do truly suffer, and of whom we can't just say, "Toughen up." Jesus was wise in saying we owe our compassion to those who are truly suffering. I think this is the real issue of the problem of pain, we can't just dismiss them. Maybe it's a true test of the soul, as some will turn away and some won't. And there is a real beauty in those who don't turn away.

Great point, Michael. It seems to me we are indeed blessed to have the time and resources to pursue these intellectual endeavors. Most of us are doubly blessed to have had a big enough taste of material abundance to find it empty and unsatisfying. So we start looking for something more......and find ourselves in deep metaphysical thickets. It might even be called an adventure.

When your butt is really up against the sawblade, such as being stuck on a cliff face, there is little thought of fairness. You either figure out how to make a saving move or two, or perish. If you survive, then you can invest in a philosophical or scientific investigation.

Personally, I am so hard-headed that it usually takes suffering to get through to me. I hate to think how closed and hard my heart would be if all my efforts to avoid pain and suffering had been successful. I really shudder at the thought. Looking back over my life, I find this begrudging gratitude toward my pain, for it surely taught me more than my pleasures.

"...some will turn away and some won't. And there is a real beauty in those who don't turn away."

Yes. Not once in my life have I seen an act of compassion and not seen beauty in it, no matter the politics, the biology, or the rationale."

I'm glad you said this. Thank you, Michael. Good splash of water in the face.

getting myself back on topic...."This kind of mission was effectively dramatized in the movie The Guns of Navarone, based on the novel by Alastair MacLean."

This is a good analogy. Recently I have, personally, been developing, reluctantly and somewhat against my will, an ability to communicate with spirits. They are probably fairly low to medium level spirits (I think, I really dunno). I certainly won't say that I am the next Georgia O'Connor - I'm not and I don't want to be.

At any rate, what I am learning is this: In the spirit world there is a separation between mindsets. Thought is everything. Souls and soul groups with different mindsets are in totally different realms because *they think differently*.

There cannot be advancement or movement to other realms if souls are not interacting with others of different mindsets and thus learning, growing and accepting the whole. The whole is the realization in thought and practice that, ultimately, all the souls and soul groups are part of ONE - like instruments in an orchestra.

Being on the other side does NOT usually mean enlightment. In fact, most souls are just gravitated to a level of knowledge that matches their mindset and there they would sit for eternities, unchanged, but for mechanisms in place and designed to shake them loose ocassionally. They need to get up off their metaphorical arses and begin to assimilate new experiences and view points in order to develop new and broader understanding.

Souls must eventually interact with souls of different mindsets to grow. But how to do that when mindset/thought defines where on lives and with whom one has contact? One primary mechanism is reincarnation into the physical realm.

There are some mechanisms whereby souls can mix on the other side, but the ways in which they mix and work out differences - and hence grow - are limited. Those mechanisms work best with souls that are already quite advanced or otherwise exceptionally open to new viewpoints at a purely intellectual level.

The physical realm, however, is an excellent place for souls of different mindsets to interact because physical laws tend to be predominate over mental/spiritual laws. The thought based barriers are largely gone. However, a carbon based environment packed full of different mindsets is an environment replete with conflict and resulting pain. Then there is the normal day to day entropy associated with carbon based compounds; another source of pain.

Most souls really do steel themselves when deciding (or being ordered by the oversoul) to come here. They know it's going to be a rough mission, but they also know that it is temporary and their pain and stress will be relieved when they pass back over. Some souls become so distracted with life in the physical that they forget to the extent that they get warped. Some souls, being pretty much forced by circumstances to come here, rebel in anger and frustration. In doing so they miss the point(s). An extreme example of this type would be a Hitler.

It is possible to screw up in the face of the challenges presented by life, just as the soldiers going after the guns of Navarone could succumb to cowardice, incompetence or simply an overwhelming opposing force. Merely being sent on a mission, even if one volunteerd for it, does not guaruntee success.

"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore.........." (Revelation 3:12)

"The whole is the realization in thought and practice that, ultimately, all the souls and soul groups are part of ONE - like instruments in an orchestra."

Some pretty cool observations, no one! Sounds like you're meeting some wise spirits.

The description of pain in this post is much more compassionate and prosaic than the New Agey axiom about people leading suffering lives because they chose that life before they were born. Or, just as bad, the Karmic understanding that they are suffering because of things they did in a previous life.

no one, your post is unnerving for me, as it fits well with the way my life has played out and how I've felt about it. For example, I've often yearned to give an earful to, and get an explanation from, Whomever's in charge. This life really has felt like some sort of test and/or imposition, one I've felt ill-equipped to deal with because so often what has seemed sensible to me has been at odds with the rules of this game. Stranger in a strange land, that's me.

"Sounds like you're meeting some wise spirits. "

Perhaps Bruce.

BTW, they also tell me that there really is a devil.............................

.........and his name is Obama.

Just kidding ;-)

Wax Frog,

The end goal is all instruments playing in harmony in a cosmic orchestra, but, remember, that the best music is multi-layered and contains minors as well as majors. Even dissonate notes can add beauty and complexity when struck at the right time and place.

The oversoul (or group soul) is like an individual instrument in the orchestra (like a guitar or piano) . The individual personality is like a string on a guitar or key on a piano. The oversoul must work to tune up each string or key if it is, itself, to play in the larger orchestra. No one gets left behind in the end.

Resistance is futile (as Art says) and only adds to pain and suffering.

You don't make the afterlife sound all that appealing NO ONE. What else is on offer?

I should add that one lost soul is so defiant that it is existing in a hellish state. When the life review comes up* he argues, like a lwayer, against what is being shown as his mistakes. He spends his energy convincing himself that he is misunderstood, getting angry about that, and then taking out his anger by plaguing people in the earthly realm. He simply refuses to play along with the cosmic scheme.

He claims he will NEVER surrender. However, I note that he is also a liar and is generally confused. I wonder how long he can continue to exist as he does. What will change his mind?

*The life review apparently is not a one time flash in the pan as NDEs would tend to suggest. Rather it is a process that can be long and drawn out if need be - like a military debriefing. Also, there is another aspect of the process that NDEs don't discuss. It's like a lessons learned and applied process. You have the life review, you take note of certain areas of opportunity for improvement and think about these and then come back to the review board periodically to compare your progressed understanding to the circumstances in the life review that pointed out the shortcomings.

"You don't make the afterlife sound all that appealing NO ONE. What else is on offer?"

Snorkler, maybe you've never played in a band or orchestra. I have and getting it together with others and creating some great sound can be an ectastic experience. It just feels great.

What more could you want?

Didn't someone once say "the car is a passing fancy?"

“Souls must eventually interact with souls of different mindsets to grow. But how to do that when mindset/thought defines where on lives and with whom one has contact? One primary mechanism is reincarnation into the physical realm.” –no-one

So presumably you’re doing your human best to interact with and understand all the whacko socialists who breed on your tax money? If not, why not?

You vote for Obama then complain that he makes Obama like policies. Seems like there’s a beam in your eye.

As for “cowboying up”, yes that’s the American way. Is Iraq grateful for that? Will all that death in Afghanistan mean anything about ten minutes after the troops pull out?

oops, that was posted under the incorrect blog. Sorry for the non sequitur

Thank you for the invigorating post, Michael. If there is another world beyond this one, our friends and loved ones see us and bid us to be courageous until the day that we meet them again.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." -Hebrews 12:1

no one, your last remarks remind me of Anthony Borgia's "Life in the World Unseen." There's no instant enlightenment in the Afterlife, and those who haven't spiritually progressed in this life have to make great changes. I really found it fascinating, his accounts of the different levels in the Afterlife. You might want to check it out.

"Anthony Borgia's "Life in the World Unseen"

I may check it out later, Kathleen. What I'm experiencing is new to me and I don't want to prejudice my impressions. I'm trying to sort out what, if any of it, is real and what might be coming from my owm subconscious.

Actually, I know at least some of it is real because there are associated physical phenomena.

Any how, I shared it because I thought it appropriate in that some of the message has relevance to the question of pain.

All, sorry about the rant about Obama. I know that there are many here who like him and even think he holds the solutions to society's problems. I am more touchy than usual on politics right now on account of my son's medical and psychological condition. It's really got me upset.

@no one
NP :)

Not really into big band music lately No One
More into bowlfull salads these days.

No One, I appreciate your comments and I'm glad to hear you're developing some mediumistic abilities. But I'm sorry to hear about your son's problems.

FWIW, I have felt for a long time that we should have entered Afghanistan after 9-11, smashed Al Qaeda, and gotten out. Three or four months, tops. Ten years of nation building is ridiculous, especially in a primitive country that will revert to rule by warlords and the Taliban as soon as we leave.

I'm glad so many people liked my post. I thought it might be more unpopular. But I get tired of complaints. For the most part I'm not a complainer, so I have limited patience with grousing and griping. I admit that some people do have it so tough that they have a right to complain and deserve compassionate help. But the victim mentality in our society is getting out of control, in my opinion.

Re Obama, I've always seen him as a shallow opportunist, but I have to admit he's a smart politician and did a good job on his reelection campaign. Since the election I haven't been following politics that closely, but I hope the reductions in benefits to veterans don't become law. If there's anyone who deserves our nation's gratitude, it's those who sacrificed so much for it. And I'll bet Gen. Patton would agree!

"Re Obama, I've always seen him as a shallow opportunist,"

I know you do, Michael. And as of last November you also saw Romney, in contrast, as a man of integrity. It's mind-boggling to me.

Not looking for a debate--I just want to express the amazement I feel at this 180 degree difference in how we see these two men.

As to your main blog post here, your viewpoint is an essential one. Living in the physical plane takes toughness, there's no question about it.

I guess the luckiest of us gets to grow up with parents who exhibit both sides of the coin--toughness and compassion.

I just saw a movie yesterday called In a Better World. It was largely about fathers and sons, and one of the fathers was someone I grew to deeply admire--so strong and self-confident that in two separate scenes, he allowed this other guy, the town bully, to slap him in the face without retaliating.

In the second scene, he had actually taken his young son (and his friend) to witness the encounter. He wanted to make sure that these kids knew that he wasn't afraid of this blowhard. (In part because they too were facing their own challenges in dealing with a bully at school.)

At first I thought--is this guy a wimp? But then, as the movie progressed, it became clear that he himself felt just fine about himself and his behavior. And he understood that getting violent wasn't going to help the situation at all.

So although I like a good fight scene as much as the next guy, at least when the fight is somehow appropriate, I saw this character as being somehow even braver and more impressive than your typical action hero. His self-worth wasn't endangered by the actions of this antagonistic jerk who wasn't worth wasting time and energy on. And that takes a special, uncommon, strength.

At the same time, this man was also extremely tender and affectionate with his son. And that brings me to my main point--he was someone who, as I see it, exhibited the ideal blend of what you might call masculine and feminine traits.

You've presented the "masculine" side here, Michael, and expressed it well.

Re: In A Better World

Particularly noteworthy was the fact that the father in question, despite his fundamental integrity, also had his weak side, and was capable of almost destroying his marriage. Very very human. Those Danes sure know how to make movies. Check out The Celebration or After the Wedding for another couple of great ones.

Tsavo, thanks for those recommendations. I'll check them out!

By the way, my all-time favorite Scandinavian movie is Swedish--As it is in Heaven.

Sorry for my flippant comment No One. i did read your harrowing account of your sons experiences, and do feel for him and you all that are connected to that terrible situation over there in A-Stan.I mistakenly attributed your comments to another blogger.

"By the way, my all-time favorite Scandinavian movie is Swedish--As it is in Heaven."

Always on the lookout for a good movie rec. Thx.

What biological basis or evolutionary advantage can be cited to explain the thrill of artistic creation, the quiet ecstasy of manipulating complicated mathematical formulas, the aesthetic appreciation of a sunset, or the euphoria that accompanies an epiphany? If pain is part of life, so is happiness — even, in some instances, extremes of happiness that appear to serve no practical purpose.

The "problem of happiness" is a problem (though a trivial one -- like all other possible problems) only for purposeful design theories, not for evolution by natural selection (PD and ENS for convenience).

In PD, every feature is the result of a decision motivated by a purpose. The solution is always the same: however things are, that is what The Designer(s) wanted. The answer in PD to why there is happiness is that The Designer(s) wanted us to be happy, at least sometimes. The only reason that the Problem of Pain is any more of a problem is a result of the additional assumption that The Designer(s) is/are benevolently disposed towards their creations (specifically us).

ENS has no requirement that every characteristic is directly functional -- as long as they are not too dysfunctional they may be a remnant, an adaptation to a very different environment, and/or a side effect (with no requirement that it is a necessary side effect) of an adaptation that is very different, pure chance, and/or an arbitrary socially selected characteristic (a category that includes the classic sexual selection).

Why do human males have nipples? Why not? Their presence has little or no negative affects, so there was no selective pressure for them to be found only in females.

Generally, pleasure (including happiness) serves to bias organisms towards some particular behavior -- in the terminology of psychology, they act as a reward/positive reinforcement. The risk of pleasure is that it frequently becomes a "super stimulus", continuing to reward behavior that is non-productive or counter-productive. Housecats who are fed tuna too frequently become overwhelmed by the strength of its taste and end up under-motivated for a more varied diet. Humans are super stimulated by sugar (ancestors associated sweet with fruits which provided critically needed calories -- we no longer lack calories, but pure sugar continues to provide very strong reinforcement for its consumption without the benefit of vitamins), and all kinds of "addiction" is the result of this as well.

Why math? Clearly part of the human evolutionary niche is the ability to deal with abstractions (probably because it allowed long term planning, had benefits for complex social interactions, and allowed a system of complex and detailed communication). Evolution selected for being good at it -- for choosing to practice and use it -- by making it pleasurable. Mathematics is just abstraction, and although what we would recognize as mathematics had no practical use for pre-agricultural human and humanoids, finding abstract reasoning enjoyable quite clearly did.

Enjoyment of art reflects enjoyment of communication, abstraction, symmetries and "good" things (environments, objects, sexual opportunities, etc.). If art is valued, then making art adds the positive rewards for a social animal of doing something productive for the group.

What "evolutionary advantage" is provided by art and math? None that I know of. The important question is, however, why you expect that there would be selective pressure to make them unrewarding?

If you are going to argue effectively against ENS, you really do need to have an idea of what it really says. The core of what I said above goes all the way back to Origin of the Species.

Pattons sister was married to my grandfathers brother. He evidently was a character. His grandfather and his great Uncle were confederate officers killed in the war. his grandmother was tossed out in the snow by Federals and died of pnuemonia.

No problewm he helped win WWII by driving Sherman tanks. AS my grandfather an old cowboy the kind with no thumb (roping accident) nose etc, six foot five, from south Texas used to say a man should only cry twice at birth and at his Momma's funeral.

Topher, evolutionary psychology (sociobiology) argues that we can explain virtually all human traits by reference to evolutionary adaptive advantages. See "Darwinian Fairy-Tales" by David Stove for a a witty and thorough debunking.

Great post, Michael!

David Stoves book is hilarious particularly when he talks about kin altruism, Berlinskis book The Devils Delusion is also excellent and I quote both in my own book as well New Atheism as a Cult of intellect. If nothing else writing the book was worth it for the bibliography it produced .Happy to send anyone on the blog a free pdf version.

The early practitioners of socio-biology did indeed make some excessive claims of this type -- as well as using simplistic analyses of the evidence to claim proof of simplistic theories. This is why they were derided by both evolutionary theorists and psychologists. I'm sure you can still find some people who speak in such terms, but they are far from the mainstream in socio-biology or in biology in general.

If you look in the actual literature of the field as it exists today, you will find that many of the "explanations" being proposed are precisely the kind that I was discussing. Socio-biology does not claim that all human characteristics are directly adaptive, only that they are the product of selection, in the same way that physical characteristics are (e.g., nipples on men are in no way inconsistent, and I doubt that the enjoyment of music will turn out to be either, though I don't think that that has been firmly established yet).

Tilting at caricatures is from the CSICOP playbook. I've said before that I firmly believe that there is a huge hole in our understanding of the Universe (I am a member of the Parapsychology Association and was one of the authors of the Parapsychology FAQ that circulated on the Internet for many years, after all). I really am willing to listen to arguments that the development of biological diversity overlaps that hole. But straw man arguments don't qualify as arguments for that -- they only address the incorrectness of the hypotheses (I use the plural since in case you haven't noticed it, your claims about what Evolution Theory says contradicts itself) that no one believe are true.

Alas Poor Darwin ,arguments against Evolutionary Psychology presented one of the most through academic critiques of evolutionary psychology.great essays by Midgely, Steve and Hillary Rose, Patrick Bateson and others EP is a type of unified Field theory for Biology and is about as successful. One of the most interesting insights into the personality of the New Atheists and theri Skeptic dopplegangers is the realtionship of therir beleif systems to their parental realtions.
beyond the attainment of a maximal number of the bland intellectual virtues, there is nothing that it is to be scientific, no common essence to the diverse and variously productive projects generally collected under the heading of science. The contrary assumption is not only mistaken, but can be seen to justify bad, and even sometimes harmful, science. Such is the case for evolutionary psychology, or so I maintain.

John Dupre. Human Nature and the Limits of Science (Kindle Locations 942-945). Kindle
George Ellis (1998) has argued that while these attempts may result in more power for science, the arguments are flawed because they are based on the following: • Unjustified and often unstated assumptions or restrictions that are based in metaphysics, not science • Misrepresentations of scientific findings • Misrepresentation or dismissal without substantive argument of any positions or data contrary to their view

.

Topher, I'm addressing the popularized version of evolutionary psych, not what's in the formal literature, which I haven't read. I'm sure the formal writings are better, just as they are in the case of regular (non-psych) evolution. Popularizers like Dawkins make excessive claims for neo-Darwinism, which would never stand up to peer review. Since the vast majority of educated people are exposed only to the popularized versions of these ideas, I think they're worth debunking in their own right.

Your mileage may vary ... :-)

Topher Cooper - Socio-biology does not claim that all human characteristics are directly adaptive, only that they are the product of selection, in the same way that physical characteristics are (e.g., nipples on men are in no way inconsistent, and I doubt that the enjoyment of music will turn out to be either, though I don't think that that has been firmly established yet).

This seems to be the position of evolutionary biology, that all human qualities are the result of positive and neutral selection either biological or sociocultural. They were presumably built up gradually over millions of years, through the various stages preserved in the fossil record, such as Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Neanderthal, Homo sapiens, Cro-Magnon. This would include cherished positive qualities like moral codes, compassion, empathy, love, art, music, mathematical ability. For instance, moral codes presumably are an emergent product of selective pressure generating a genetic component, plus the evolution of social contracts. The overall binding purpose of all these “contracts” was to increase the survivability or productive efficiency of the species or group. This requiries behavioral codes of cooperation and codependancy.

Supposedly all this is bolstered by an immense amount of research and evidence in the behaviors of various primates and other social animals accumulated by generations of scientific workers.

If everything that makes us human was gradually constructed over vast periods of time by various forms of natural genetic variation plus various forms of selection including sociocultural (and there is a lot of evidence for this), then what is left of the spiritual world view that the human is a reflection of the Divine, or at least of innate qualities of the Soul? I guess nothing - this view seems incompatible with the admittedly large amount of evidence for survival from psychical research. It is definitely incompatible with spiritual teachings including those coming out of New Age thinking.

Just wanted to point out the stakes here. Maintaining a big cognitive dissonance looks like a necessity for most members of this blog, unless some way can be found to reconcile the apparently unreconcilable.

"Supposedly all this is bolstered by an immense amount of research and evidence in the behaviors of various primates and other social animals accumulated by generations of scientific workers."

The key word is "supposedly." Actually we know next to nothing about the lifestyles and habits of prehistoric man. Extrapolating from modern-day "primitive" societies doesn't help; they're primitive but not prehistoric. Extrapolating from gorillas or bonobos doesn't help either; they're neither human nor proto-human.

Evolutionary psych arguments are mostly "just-so stories." For a good debunking, see David Stove's book "Darwinian Fairy-Tales," mentioned above.

That said, I don't doubt that game theory and genetic selection both play some role in determining social mores. But let's not overstate it. The Romans used to feed people to wild beasts and leave unwanted infants in trash heaps to die of exposure. The advance of Christianity resulted in outlawing these and other unsavory practices. We can find many other examples throughout history of spiritual leaders and movements that effected striking social changes. Look at the role played by the Hebrew prophets in their society, the role of Protestant churches in the abolitionist movement, and the role of Spiritualism in the suffragist movement.

The interplay between the spiritual and the physical seems to be quite complex, not something that can be conveniently described (or dismissed) in a sentence.

One last thing: The statement "maintaining a big cognitive dissonance looks like a necessity for most members of this blog" looks an awful lot like the kind of thing a troll would say.

I guess nothing - this view seems incompatible with the admittedly large amount of evidence for survival from psychical research. It is definitely incompatible with spiritual teachings including those coming out of New Age thinking.

The problem is that the empirical research of the afterlife and spiritualist ideologies are independent, so that evolutionary biology is not incompatible with the results of empirical investigations of the afterlife.

@juan
(from wikipedia)
A year later(19740 Rudolf Jaenisch created a transgenic mouse by introducing foreign DNA into its embryo, making it the world’s first transgenic animal.[24

From the point of view of the mouse ..how could it distinguish between a god and a human ?
Or, in other words,between evolution and divine design?
Perhaps my imagination is very poor.

Interesting. Great post Michael. Nobody really knows whats going on in the hide of another. We feel empathy (and sympathy) for the bad things that happen to those in horrid circumstances, but can never really truly "go into that person's shoes" and know what its like. To each his own. In all circumstances, no matter how dire, we certainly can find a way to help repair the world. Any purpose, if there be any, has to include that obligation for all of us. So, as my father used to say, "Quit your wimpin and get movin'!"

One last thing: The statement "maintaining a big cognitive dissonance looks like a necessity for most members of this blog" looks an awful lot like the kind of thing a troll would say.

I respect and consider valid the vast body of evidence for the paranormal and for survival, but at the same find the evolutionary arguments quite persuasive. So I myself feel the need to maintain such a cognitive dissonance, unless some substantive arguments can be found against the evolution of most human characteristics. It was probably a mistake to attribute the same dilemma to other members of the blog. Juan points out that the evidence of psychical research, and spiritual belief systems, are somewhat independent, so that is a partial solution.

If there is a moral code inherent in the fabric of reality--and I think there is--then it would be unsurprising that evolution would lead us to emulate to some degree or another that moral code. No cognitive dissonance necessary.

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