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HOW DARE YOU....!!!

Nice to see things back to normal.

"In other news, I'm currently rereading Peter Fenwick's The Truth in the Light, a very enjoyable overview of NDEs." - Michael Prescott
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I'm presently re-reading The Art of Dying by Peter Fenwick. It's excellent. I liked it even better than The Truth in the Light. I've got a copy of The Truth in the Light in my "life after death library." We have a really large used book store near us, Mckaybooks.com, that trades books and has a "new age section" which I peruse through whenever I'm there. I counted the other day and I've got a little over 80 books in my "life after death" library. One book I have has some descriptions of near death experiences in it that was published like in 1969. That isn't what the author called them but it's obvious that is what they are. Can't remember the name of the book right now though.

Michael,
now that your blog has become popular and important to some of us here (me included), i thought of this quote from a movie i once saw:

"Remember, with great power, comes great responsibility"

I think that some of us here really like your blog and most of its commentators for being fairly balance, truly open-minded, and cordial to the like-minded folks. while we may be intolerant for some skeptics (and even to some commentators here)and got carried away with some of discussions about them, we are like one big extended family- so that there's always that annoying uncle, or aunt that gets on our nerve and who in return always likes to stir things up...and you, being the owner of the blog, are like the head of the family, and like it or not, you do have to keep a watchful eye over this blog, and make sure things dont get carried away.

but think of it this way, if no one reads your blog, then none of this would have happen, and there will be many of us who would become lost and are not able to talk about things here that mean the most to us. i do believe that many of us here take this forum seriously, and find comfort in thinking that we can share our taboo topics with others without being chastised for it (until recently of late). I suppose you can always quit and close this blog, but since you've gone this far, would you really want to break up this family, and this open forum where we share our thoughts, beliefs, hopes, and fears?

no pressure here, :-P

so thank you for keeping this up, and for making sure that the black sheeps don't get too carried away.

btw- that quote is from spiderman in case someone doesnt know (really?)

Michael,

I really do appreciate this blog. I didn’t have a language to describe my experiences before I came here. I didn’t know people actually discussed things like NDEs, mediumship and survival of consciousness. I know I must sound pretty flaky at times, or at least a little naïve. I don’t have a background in philosophy or parapsychology, so sometimes I feel unqualified to contribute to the discussions here. I do read them all though. I’ve learned a lot.

I have gotten a sense of community here that I really enjoy. I have friends at university, but I can’t tell them about the ghosts in the room when we go for beer on Friday afternoon. I can’t talk about such things at home either. But this is a place where people put up with me and my ghosts, and I really value what I’ve found here.

In my former world of consulting there were usually two kinds of variation lets call them problems for this post. There were special and common/systemic problems. If we treat a special cause of variation as a systemic cause; the problems tend to get worst, also if we treat a systemic or common cause of variation as a special cause that usually meant much effort with little results in improvement.

My point once in awhile their will be a special cause meaning a comment that is hostile or just inappropriate, if we treat that rare inappropriate comment as common much effort will be applied but with little results or improvement in the quality of the blog; in fact it might even harm the quality of the blog. I.e. no instant or timely feedback tends to limit dialog.

Not sure that made any sense but then it did not make much sense to most corporations in the world. Deming taught this “simple but profound” axiom until he was 93 with little success. The ego in its desire to blame and judge and maintain an individualistic mentality desires to treat all problems as special then place blame. This prevents the world most of the time to look systematically.

Now what in the world does this have to do with the paranormal and spiritually? Confusing common problems with special problems creates lots of drama, blaming individuals, judgment and most of all lots of chaos. Systemic analysis for understanding becomes almost nonexistent. It appears the ego cherishes chaos for a variety of reasons. There is great opportunity for hero status in the throes of chaos.

Sandy your ghost stories are interesting to me as I have had some minor encounters with them or some form of intelligent energy. I just saw a TV show the other night and the ghost could cause a light to blink to communicate yes or no questions and they were even able to get the ghost’s voice pretty clear on an audiotape.

These appear to be earth bound “spirits” that have become attached to some worldly object or person. And since time is different in their existence I don’t think they know how long they have been earth bound or don’t care.

This is off topic, but it could be of interest to some readers interested in metaphysical questions:

In a previews post, I commented that Aquinas' view of teleology has nothing to do intelligent design (ID) or William Paley.

Aquinas' teleology is based upon a complex metaphysical system of 4 causes, where one of these causes is called "final causality" (the other causes are the formal cause, the material cause and the efficient cause).

Aquinas borrowed that metaphysics from Aristotle, and applied them to support Christian teachings.

Modern philosophers rejected all the Aristotle/Aquinas' system of causes, and admitted only efficient causation (one of the causes mentioned by Aristotle).

Accordingly, modern science (and the materialism derived from it) researches only efficient causes, i.e. the process or mechanisms that produce a certain effect. This is the reason why it's called the "mechanical philosophy", because it's a purely mechanistic (efficient cause based) worldview.

This explains why "science" has difficulty dealing with teleological phenomena, like social phenomena, morality, consciousness and psi. All of these are not reducible to a purely efficient based causation, because they're essentially intentional or teleological, i.e. the teleological aspect is not just one if their aspects, but the basic and prominent one.

And "science" (that rejects teleology since modernity) only can make sense of them forcing a reduction of them in terms of efficient causation. If they cannot reduce them (and they can't!), then such phenomena are considered non-existent, or problematic, or something like that.

As I mentioned, teleology in Aristotle and Aquinas sense exist even in inorganic matter, it's part of material entities.

I've just read a very good paper in defense of this view on teleology in inorganic and organic matter by a contemporary philosopher:

http://www.reading.ac.uk/AcaDepts/ld/Philos/dso/papers/Teleology_Inorganic%20and%20Organic.pdf

(the paper begins from the page 3 of that link)

Science has largely explained the material world in terms of efficient causes without any mention of the intrinsic teleology.

But in cases where teleology is more obvious or evident, like in the functioning of biological organisms or the human mind, hard-core materialist scientists cannot avoid talking about functions, purposes, "apparent design", intentions, etc., because these concepts (essentially teleological) are the most useful and accurate to describe the actual phenomenon.

But these materialist scientists consider these concepts at most as "useful fictions" without any deeper metaphysical implication.

And if you dare to suggest some actual intrinsic teleology in the phenomenon, they'll possibly will tell you (specially if they have read and believed Dawkins) that William Paley and ID creationism is not scientific because... (in this point the conversation is over)

Sorry for this long off topic, I just had my "5 minutes of philosophical inspiration" after the reading of the above paper.

Thanks for the link, ZC - I'll look forward to reading the paper, and will likely have more to say once I have.

For now, though, what I think the ID advocates are missing is that the full truth isn't that we're living in a reality that reflects Intelligent design, it's that we're living in a reality that is Intelligence designing.

In other words, Elvis hasn't left the building.

Going back to lucidity before death cases, here is a link to a survey done by Bruce Greyson.

http://journals.lww.com/jonmd/Abstract/2009/12000/Terminal_Lucidity_in_Patients_With_Chronic.12.aspx

ooops, here it is.

http://journals.lww.com/jonmd/Abstract/2009/12000/Terminal_
Lucidity_in_Patients_With_Chronic.12.aspx

Interesting as I was going to go off topic with the book I am reading entitled “god’s undertaker” by John Lennon.

On page 18 of this book a quote became of interest to me. “Science with its currently successful pursuit of universal competence through the identification of the minimal, the supreme delight of the intellect, should be acknowledged king”. Peter Atkins p 18.

The idea of a king image appears to be needed by the religious and the atheist alike. Now the “supreme delight of the intellect” is an interesting statement as the atheists and for that matter many religious scholars worship at the altar of the intellect which can often become intellectualism. Those ism’s can become very troublesome.

Scientism based in intellectualism can be become as much of a system of beliefs and in need of a king as any religion.

In other words, we still need an Elvis.

Now the term intelligent design has never appealed to me and I am not sure why. There appears to me something that is not quite right with that term. The word intelligent is not a problem for me but the word design does not appeal to my limited awareness of reality.

I suspect how we define the term or concept of design is important. If we consider a synonym for design as purpose then intelligent design may indeed be a good description of reality. But if the term design is defined as planning or devise or propose then I don’t think that is an accurate description of this underlying reality of phenomena.

My preferred term at this time might be intelligent manifestations or expressions as I think that the term design is in the human realm or intellect and not that of infinite intelligence. We humans with our limited awareness may need to plan or design or set goals or whatever. Did that make any sense?

I don’t think that Infinite Intelligence that most call God has to plan or design it just is Isness. Now there may indeed be gods as very advanced souls that most call spirits doing creation of planets, species or whatever to advance their level of unawareness of the Divine Mind.

Interesting as I was going to go off topic with the book I am reading entitled “god’s undertaker” by John Lennon

Great book. And the author is John Lennox (with X), not Lennon... :)

I just want to clarify something about Aquinas' teleology and ID.

Teleology, as understood by Aristotle and Aquinas, doesn't preclude the existence of an intelligent designer in the sense of ID theorists.

It's possible that God, aliens, transdimensional beings or any other intelligent agent would create, by design, certain biological structures, or the origin of life on Earth.

But it's independent of Aquinas' teleology, that exist as a metaphysical property of the natural world.

Atheists like Dawkins and other have caused a great deal of confusion because they intentionally misrepresent, with crude caricatures and lies, their opponents' positions.

People like Dawkins confound intentionally Aquinas' teleology (summarized in his 5th way to prove God's existence) with ID, and ID with biblical creationism, etc. This explains that Dawkins tries to counter Aquinas' fifth way by refuting (caricatures of) ID...

Paradoxically, in his debate with Lennox, Dawkins said he's open to the possibility that life on earth was the product of extraterrestial beings... and this entails that Dawkins is accepting that origin of life on Earth could be product of intelligent design (of aliens).

Thus Dawkins tries to refute ID when arguing against Aquinas' fifth way, but appeal to extraterrestial ID as a possible explanation to the origin of life on Earth when arguing against a possible divine origin of life in this planet.

Anything goes for atheists when they want to avoid any divine foot!

In conclusion, prominent atheists like Dawkins intentionally confound Aristotelian teleology with ingelligent design with biblical creationism (i.e. creation by the Christian God), because this confusion is very useful to their PR purposes of spreading materialist atheism as the only truth.

"Anything goes for atheists when they want to avoid any divine foot!"

"Great book. And the author is John Lennox (with X), not Lennon... :)"

it sounded so much better as lennon for all of his fans out there in music land.

Thanks again for that link, ZC. It's good to see a contemporary philosopher defending teleology "all the way down" through inorganic matter. As he notes in his conclusion, " . . . to admit inorganic teleology is not to diminish one whit the special character of teleology in the living world, especially as it finds its optimal expression in human life and action. The contrast between the two is stark, yet the existence of both militates against a Cartesian-style dichotomizing of the universe.

I could easily spin into a 2500-word dissertation on this topic, but I'll defer. The one observation I will share is that if a single-celled slime mold can solve a problem with an efficiency that apparently exceeds what humans are capable of, then it would follow that human beings, who are a pretty impressive collection of cells, are likely to have latent capabilities that exceed all imagination.

It’s probably also worth noting that the slime mold solves its problems without the benefit of a brain. So I guess that makes two observations.

I haven’t read God’s Undertaker, only Mohrhoff’s review at AntiMatters. Ultimately, the review leads me to believe that Lennox is just another of the theists, continuing to argue for Cartesian dualism. It’s not that the theists are “right” and the materialists are “wrong”; it’s that both camps are blinded by their own perceptions of God. Mohrhoff is another one suggesting a “third way” to look at this question when he concludes his review by noting, “Lennox asks if science has buried God. Perhaps it is not science that has buried God but God who has buried himself.”

I could easily spin into a 2500-word dissertation on this topic, but I'll defer. The one observation I will share is that if a single-celled slime mold can solve a problem with an efficiency that apparently exceeds what humans are capable of, then it would follow that human beings, who are a pretty impressive collection of cells, are likely to have latent capabilities that exceed all imagination.

It’s probably also worth noting that the slime mold solves its problems without the benefit of a brain. So I guess that makes two observations. -Michael H

These two excellent observations bring to mind my little poem:

Wising Up

So how did honeybees evolve,
To do business as they fly;
To navigate
By the sun’s position in the sky?

From eggs laid by a queen,
Most hatch as worker clones;
Some are guards; others scouts;
There are nurses; even drones.

They co-operate in colonies
Fifty thousand strong;
Single-mindedly, determinedly,
All summer long.

They’ve arranged a special symbiosis
With the flower;
In exchange for pollination:
Nectar-power!

Whenever scouts discover
Blossoms at their best,
They fly back home
And dance directions to the rest.

With big bulbous eyes
And ultraviolet sight,
They can see patterns on petals
Which guide them to alight.

By use of two pairs of wings
Which hook up in flight,
They can pitch up and down;
Or yaw left and right.

Inside the nest, by alchemy,
The nectar (gathered crude)
Is refined to golden honey,
Transcendental food.

The honey store does more
Than just permit bees to survive;
By sipping it, they somehow milk
The wisdom of the hive.

I know our brains to theirs
Are twenty thousand times the size;
But fifty thousand honeybees
Add up to ‘very wise’.

Add up to ‘very wise’.

So does that poem, Ben - I'm copying and pasting!

Great poem, Ben!

I haven’t read God’s Undertaker, only Mohrhoff’s review at AntiMatters. Ultimately, the review leads me to believe that Lennox is just another of the theists, continuing to argue for Cartesian dualism

Actually, in his book Lennox doesn't argue for Cartesian dualism, but for a science-consistent theism and intelligent design.

Just for the record, it's possible to be a theist without being a Cartesian dualist, and it's possible to be a theist while being a materialist about persons (e.g. Christian philosopher Peter Van Inwagen).

Also it's possible to be Cartesian dualist without being a theist.

I read Mohrhoff's review some time ago, but I think he fails to grasp some of Lennox's basic contentions and some of his objections are question-begging (something similar ocurred in Mohrhoff's review of Chris Carter's book).

It’s not that the theists are “right” and the materialists are “wrong”; it’s that both camps are blinded by their own perceptions of God

Necessarily, theists and atheistic materialists cannot be both right, because they assert contrary claims. So at least one of these positions is necessarily wrong.

For instance, "everything is material or physical", if true, falsifies theism (that conceives God as a immaterial spiritual being). But if theism is true, atheist materialism is false.

Both cannot be right. At least one of them is wrong.

But both could be wrong, if a "third way" (let's to say, Griffin's panexperientialism) is right.

The problem is that nobody can claim to have the correct perception of God, because the interpretation of perception is in part dependent on our worldview and epistemology.

A radical empiricist cannot "perceive" God, because by definition God is immmaterial and hence not perceivable. This epistemology prevents any knowledge of God.

At most, we can examine our conceptions, and expose their inconsistences and fallacies, and improving it constantly when new information appear.

But it's hard to be sure that our position is the only true conception of the world.

And this is one of the problems of Mohrhoff's reviews in general. He accepts Radical Constructivism as a valid epistemology and his reviews are colored by this perspective.

Philosophically, radical constructivism is instrumentalist, subjetivist and anti-realist-- it asserts that "truth" doesn't refers to anything external, to a metaphysical reality "out there".

That conception is not metaphysically neutral, but metaphysically subjetivist since it stresses experience over the external reality (and experience is a subjetivist concept, since there is not experience without experiencer).

RC could be true, but it's not metaphysically neutral. It implies the falsehood of certain positions (e.g. of realism), including realist based theism.

It's worth considering when reading Mohrhoff's reviews, because some of his objections are entailed by his epistemological and metaphysical commitments, and thus are question-begging against his opponents.

I say that to suggest that a book shouldn't be evaluated by a reviewer's opinion alone, but rather by a direct reading of it (if it's possible).

Just imagine a review of Lennox's book by atheist PZ Myers. He could conclude: "This is another piece of creationist propaganda motivated by religious bigotry"

Readers of the imaginary Myers's review will agree with him because they share with him his ontology (materialism) and epistemology (scientism), that are just aspects challenged, criticized and refuted by Lennox's book.

Both cannot be right. At least one of them is wrong.

But both could be wrong, if a "third way" (let's to say, Griffin's panexperientialism) is right.

I think that what neither appear to understand is this: matter is spirit.

The problem is that nobody can claim to have the correct perception of God, because the interpretation of perception is in part dependent on our worldview and epistemology . . . But it's hard to be sure that our position is the only true conception of the world.

Whatever philosophical position we’re currently operating from - whether we’re aware of our own position or not - leads us to believe that our perception is the “only true conception of this world”. This is the source of all conflict – it’s our need to find reinforcement for our positions that helps keep us from noticing that everyone is operating from their own separate realities – we’re all a world unto ourselves to one degree or another. Regardless, though, recognizing that our current position is not necessarily absolute demonstrates a great deal of wisdom - it’s pretty difficult to discover anything new when we’re convinced we already know everything.

(His commitment to RC is) worth considering when reading Mohrhoff's reviews, because some of his objections are entailed by his epistemological and metaphysical commitments . . . I say that to suggest that a book shouldn't be evaluated by a reviewer's opinion alone, but rather by a direct reading of it (if it's possible).

Of course, but this relates to the above. Just as Mohrhoff, Myers and Lennox himself will all have divergent opinions regarding the Lennox premise, so will every individual reader, because everyone is influenced by their own philosophical position. As an extreme example, very few of us here would be able to give an honest, objective reading to Dawkins or Dennett, just as the PZ Meyers crowd would find Lennox unbearable.

All of this connects to my earlier comments that I don’t think there’s any chance that philosophy in its current state can lead anyone to truth. As Peter Kingsley points out, philosophy long ago degenerated from what originally meant the “love of wisdom”, to arguing about what wisdom is. And somewhere along the line, wisdom itself, not to mention any discussion of how to access it, got lost amidst all the arguing.

It appears to me that one of the real problems in discussing wisdom is the tendency to mystify it somehow – to imagine that it arrives as an extraordinary revelation. But the truth is, all that wisdom really is, is a deep, natural intelligence. It’s so subtle that we rarely notice it - it just seems like common sense. I’d venture that everyone who reads this blog, or considers the topics discussed here to have some validity, arrived at their current position because they just sense that the self has an aspect to it that suggests immortality. I also suspect that this is why the materialists, despite four centuries of growing and continuing influence, still comprise such a small percentage of the population overall.

I also think that one of the reasons that materialists are so militant and vocal involves the conflict that they experience with their own common sense - I know this was true in my case. I was an atheistic materialist once, but there was an uncomfortable edge to it - it just didn't feel right - I just sensed I was missing something. (Turned out I was missing just about everything).

The western philosophy that appears to me to come the closest to articulating the understanding that arrives in concert with a deep realization of wisdom is idealism, especially Plotinus, but I don’t think he or any of the idealists that have followed have been able to articulate how someone can arrive at a deep realization of wisdom for themselves.

For what it’s worth, I think ZC is on the right track in her willingness to question her own perceptions and to recognize that everyone else’s opinion is ultimately just that. In the end, though, I’m convinced that the answers cannot be found in complexity, but in simplicity. I also think that to arrive at wisdom ourselves it is necessary to find the deep, unconditional feelings first – the intellectual understanding will arrive by itself at the higher levels of feeling, but the feelings won’t arrive from an effort to arrive at the intellectual understanding, and neither will the understanding. All that one can arrive at by attempting to "understand the understanding" is an interpretation of another person’s understanding that’s influenced by our own perceptual filters, if that makes any sense.

That’s how I see it, but ultimately, that’s all it is. Keep your own council.

“I just sensed I was missing something. (Turned out I was missing just about everything).”

Many years ago as a consultant I was conducting a seminar that was two days a week for three weeks. Well this group turned out to be a very difficult group. So living in a state with mountains I went to the top of a rather short mountain of about 4500 feet. After much thought and totally alone 20 miles from any human I went to a high peak at that mountain and raised up my arms and shouted “what am I missing”. I heard a distinct voice say “just about everything”.

I thought this voice meant on how to conduct this seminar but as it turns out this voice meant just about everything about the mysteries of life and of course included how to conduct a more effective but less confrontational transformational seminar.

“In the end, though, I’m convinced that the answers cannot be found in complexity, but in simplicity.”

I agree with this statement as I made a discovery about ten years ago that to my knowledge has never been written about before and when this discovery came to me after years of seeking it is so simple to state. For days I thought to myself it is too simple of course then it dawned on me after a few days if it is a significant discovery history has shown me it would be simple to state.

The interesting thing to me at least is that I have been unsuccessful with revealing this discovery to anyone else with the exception of one family member but they may only be nurturing my ego or whatever. It appears a “truth” as all truths I suspect are simple to state but profoundly difficult to comprehend.

Now I see a difference between a discovery and a realization as I have had one realization and a realization comes in an instant by some form of grace or whatever and removes all doubt. Discoveries like insights or conversions do not remove doubt.

“For what it’s worth, I think ZC is on the right track in her willingness to question her own perceptions and to recognize that everyone else’s opinion is ultimately just that”

Not all that is stated is opinion but separating the difference between a biased opinion and truths is not for the faint of heart. The bible is full of someone’s opinion but it also contains some profound knowledge of reality. At least that is my opinion.

“All of this connects to my earlier comments that I don’t think there’s any chance that philosophy in its current state can lead anyone to truth”

Agreed.

“Whatever philosophical position we’re currently operating from - whether we’re aware of our own position or not - leads us to believe that our perception is the “only true conception of this world”.

I think the words us to believe might be better stated most to believe because as you stated in the same paragraph it takes much wisdom to think deeply about how our current position is not an absolute. Discovering and realization of truths and being co creators with this infinite intelligence most call God just might be infinite receiving the joy and expression of self-discovery ad infinitum.

“I think that what neither appear to understand is this: matter is spirit.”

I agree Lennox ends his book with two choices mindless matter or a creator. Maybe matter is not mindless but has a level of consciousness that we have failed to detect. Like frozen consciousness that gets it substance and vitality from spirit. But in no way is this a put down of his book I found it very well researched and thoughtful.

I posted but two choices yesterday on the recent post but no one challenged me on those two choices.

I hope there's room for an Interested but as yet Unread newbie who'd like to see who else is experiencing or writing about Spirit! :)

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