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A beautiful and very thoughtful piece of writing. But still, they'll both have to wait and see. :)

So spot on! I've heard this metaphor before, but it is woefully underused in discussions with afterlife skeptics. The only response I can imagine is that this is a straw man argument, but it's not. It's a simple, yet powerful metaphor.

I tried posting a blog link on Facebook, but it reads "Life After Birth?", and doesn't give an immediate clue to the point of the article. Because of that, I'm afraid most of my Facebook friends won't follow the link, so I'll likely paste a copy of the text after all the Superbowl hoopla dies down. (With a Michael Prescott hat tip and credit to the author, of course). This cannot get away without being shared.

Wrote this today on my face book page (its very off the cuff) in answer to Stephen Fry's rebuke of "god". Love the guy though- and I'm sure many of you have seen it.

"I like Stephen Fry and enjoy his repartee, but you have to remember this is only one argument / opinion, and there are a number of ways of looking at life/ the universe. Science is still trying to understand how life / consciousness / the universe began and operates. So if anything, I think it is intelligent to keep an open mind. Many physicists are now proposing we may have a conscious universe for example, and this may suggest a quantum being or open the door for a possible "god". And as matter can change but not be lost, so the atoms of our make up / or consciousness may just survive and remerge with our conscious universe at death. Lets say therefore this survival (we name a "soul") is infinite, some of us feel for example, that a life as a mammal is only a blink in the eye of a souls life. And that god gave us free will to experience being an animal so that we will learn. Humans therefore like, plants and other animals get disease, have accidents etc, and we are the same. We need to have both good and bad experiences therefore to understand about life, and become compassionate human beings. Perhaps our true self is a spirit, and earth is just a small learning experience and reincarnation allows our spirit to have lots of different types of experiences to give us a more complete understanding. So while our spirit understands why it needs to learn, we don't. I know Brian Weiss ( published books on life regression by means of hypnosis) said that through his hypnosis experience, he was told his son died so he would mourn and come to feel more compassion for others. So he altered his path in life and instead of being a doctor, he became a psychiatrist. And he was told that his child gave up that lifetime to bring this about. I know when Ed Mitchell went to the moon, he said many astronauts have a spiritual crisis of sorts- one even became a minister when he came back. You look back at earth, and its a speck, and so insignificant in the universe. You realise he said, there is so much more to life / our universe than our day to day microcosm. So it pays to keep an open mind. None of us really know, even Stephen Fry, and like him, this is my opinion."

So earth is a tiny microcosm, and for most involves getting up, making breakfast, going to work etc, and a world that most of us can't see or comprehend beyond. Like the babies in your post.

My head has been going this way a bit lately as well. I read one of the astronaut Ed Mitchell's books some years ago and he said that as astronaut's achieved fame, they went to a lot of dinners/events with high ranking military officials, prime ministers etc. And that some had privately told him that they knew definitively that we were visited by aliens- one also suggested he had even seen bodies.

I tend to think Roswell occurred mainly by the way the army acted, i.e. it was a space ship one day and a weather balloon the next. As if you don't know the difference.

Many old men are coming forward to tell their stories as well e.g.

Then theres this, a book transcribed supposedly by a nurse at Roswell who interviewed an alien-

Now I can see heaps wrong with this. He is a Scientologist and it sounds like a rehash of their beliefs. He's written spiritual books before. He can't seem to authenticate that she even existed. Why if aliens are spirits, do they even need a spaceship? A computer? Etc, etc.

But it made me think. I am sure we are not alone in the universe, and there is other life. The so called alien here suggests we are part of an "empire", and perhaps this is not far from the truth. If there is a god, perhaps as scientists suggest the NDE is a mental loop set up for that purpose. Even the afterlife, the various levels-e.g. the summer lands must be a conscious illusion set up for us to have some sort of continuity. So it may all be a net of sorts to contain souls within that empire.

I think it may just be a story, but having said that, there well may be live aliens and the story contain some truths. Although I doubt we are discards as it is suggested, as natural selection, our environment can and does account for human variations I think. However if there is other species in the universe, these aliens and "god" I guess are all going to have their own agendas. Whose is better? Its likely each thinks that their own is. Long long post sorry. What do people think .Lyn x.

I just read your work on ayn rand, i had no idea intellectual psychopaths had a self desgnating label!
. thank you for letting me know of the neurodevelopmentally challenged self identifying population subset known as objectivists.
What a sorry bunch they are.

My first reaction to Fry's comments was that it typified the mystery of committed atheists appearing to get genuinely angry at an entity they insist does not exist nor do they believe in. I appreciate the question was hypothetical, but if hypothetically asked what you would say if you met Santa Claus can you imagine an impassioned condemnation of the jolly fat fellow for favouring the children of the rich over the poor, enslaving elves etc? The idea of cursing the almighty - even in a "what if" scenario - is very much at odds with the claim to be confident in your disbelief.

His arguments themselves are questionable too. Is he protesting a theoretical God for allowing anything physically or emotionally painful to be possible? Or is it the fact that, being possible, he doesn't step in and prevent such "bad" things? Because if its the former it would seem its biology and evolution and the life system of the planet he has a problem with..not to mention free will. And presumably want any heaven to be preceded by heaven. But if it's the latter - that an intelligence which can act but doesn't must be callous or evil, then doesn't he label himself and everyone he loves as equally callous and evil?

Because surely like you and I and the imagined Almighty, Fry has the power to do good things every minute of every day which he does not do, and to right wrongs which he leaves alone. He doesn't feed the hungry every day, or clothe the poor or house the homeless...and he can do all of those things. Physically, financially, it's possible. Not all the hungry,not all the poor as a God might, but enough to fill the hours of a day for one man..that's something he can do. And if he does in fact secretly feed one hungry man he could surely do the same for a second. Literally it is in his power to do so, but he doesn't. Is he evil? It's possible - within his power - to have learnt medicine and healed the sick. He didn't. And on and on. How is God any more callous than he? Omnipotence isn't an answer to that question, since omnipotence is not required of the man..only that he do what he is able to do. But he doesn't. Nor do I.

Then there's the bug that eat's into the eye of a child (Does this bug only eat human eyes? And if so do they lose their flavour at 18 or is it only a child because the image is more emotive? I'm curious to know.) As an expression of natural or god given "evil" or wickedness in the world it strikes me as odd in several ways. Firstly why should the survival requirements of the insect be of less concern - to God or to Fry - than a child's sight? It's a rather anthropocentric view of the value of life. Unless its the need for feeding of one creature upon another at all that is so objectionable...And so it is. But surely an insect unaware of any harm it is doing is far less an example of wickedness than an intelligent and conscience-driven Fry eating the product of a butchered pig, whose death could be described in details every bit as gory, and whose fate was in his hands. Is he - and are his mother, his lover, his friends - examples of God's wickedness because of this kind of feeding behaviour that wreaks such horror on a poor innocent pig?

Finally he imagines a concept of a deity without all of the accompanying assumptions the relgious and spiritual attach to the concept of God. Namely a spiritual existence, afterlife and eternity. Since surely all belief systems that incorporate a supreme being simultaneously believe either that a)we are spiritual beings briefly encased in the physical human form..the pains of which are completely inconsequential in the span of eternity OR b) physical reality is in fact merely illusion..and anything suffered in it, from the perspective of an afterlife, has no more relevance than having once stubbed your toe in a dream. In either scenario is any suffering suffering at all?

But for some, alas, the skeptical baby's scenario comes out to be all too true...

Sheesh! Laurence B, that was masterful!

(Anyway, I always did see Fry as petulance personified.) :)

Lawrence B,
My reaction to Stephen Fry's rage at his perception of God's apparent callousness is an old proverb (I can't find the origin) that's pretty much in line with what you were saying:

"I screamed at God for all the starving children, then I realized that all of the starving children were God screaming at me."

Yes, Lawrence, what you wrote was powerful! It kind of reminds me of an attitude I come upon in many people, who seem to think that just feeling that they're "good people" is enough, that if they "think good thoughts" that makes them "good."

I also love Michael's post here. The experience in the womb and birth seems the perfect analogy for our life here and the Afterlife.

Interesting perspective on Fry's comments:

Interesting article, Julie.

The problem with that interventionist God that Fry wants is that it would destroy our free will. There'd be no Hitler, people could only do good things - but we'd all be robots. At least that's how I see it, although it may be my Catholic upbringing talking. Even so, the interventionist God would put an end to us as free human beings. It's true we couldn't choose to be bad, but we couldn't choose to be good either - we'd be forced to be good.

\\"The problem with that interventionist God that Fry wants is that it would destroy our free will. There'd be no Hitler, people could only do good things - but we'd all be robots." Kathleen//

Or it is through the emotion generated from the "bad stuff" that the soul learns the things it was sent here to learn and in actuality this side is only a holographic illusion created to teach the soul a few simple lessons, the stuff it can't learn in heaven due to the difference between the physics of heaven the physics we experience here?

Emotion and memory are connected. The more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. Perhaps life's lessons have to be the way they are in order to imprint on the soul enough separation so that after it transitions to Heaven it doesn't forget what it was like to be a separate unique individual?

And perhaps the soul's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and it is holistically imprinted with what it needs to learn regardless of who we are, or where we live, or what we believe?

And we all know that good teachers make detailed lesson plans and the more detailed the lesson plan the more effective the teaching and at the top of each lesson plan the teacher writes out a clearly stated objective of what the student will learn by the end of that lesson.

excerpt from Roger Ebert's final moments with his wife, "But the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: "This is all an elaborate hoax." I asked him, "What's a hoax?" And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion."

and Michelle M's NDE description, "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."

and from The Universe as a Hologram, "For if the concreteness of the world is but a secondary reality and what is "there" is actually a holographic blur of frequencies, and if the brain is also a hologram and only selects some of the frequencies out of this blur and mathematically transforms them into sensory perceptions, what becomes of objective reality? Put quite simply, it ceases to exist. As the religions of the East have long upheld, the material world is Maya, an illusion, and although we may think we are physical beings moving through a physical world, this too is an illusion."

and I'll stop for now but you get the picture. and by the way we don't have to have free will in order to learn what needs to be learn. In fact free will could actually get in the way or cloud the issue. What is important is that we experience lots of the stuff that can't be experienced in heaven because it doesn't exist there.

As an aside: I've just finished reading 'Chasing Omega'. It took me so long because I was a tad afraid of the conclusion. Thankfully, it was positive. I do so like the idea that those who touch our hearts remain alive to us somewhere/somehow. :)

The analogy is great, and it's very nicely written, too!

Nice one......

I would love to talk with you, Michael Prescott. I am an author and would like to include some of your own reflections in my next book about birth. See "Ma Doula: A Story Tour of Birth" 2015, at North Star Press/bookstore. see my blog below, too, for chapters from all 3 books.

Hi Michael,

Just come across your post. I am Hungarian and I have known this story for a long time without knowing the author. Anyway, writing
"it's attributed to Útmutató a Léleknek, a Hungarian writer" sounds rather silly since Útmutató a Léleknek means Spiritual Guide, it is not a name of an author.
The story is great, though.
All the best,


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