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"fake SSkeptics sell this very same scam.You see it's simple really. All knowledge is already there, and all we lack is critical thinking on your part."

Genius! :)

How is progress a myth when I have a computer and smartphone that work without intervention from gods or angels? How is illness defeated by western medicine but not prayer or visits to Lourdes? No mist or ambiguity - it either works or it doesn't.

Progress is the result of historical accretion of rationally observing how reality works and the growing collective memories of humans.

Religions had a very poor, false understanding of reality. Science gives us everything worthwhile we now have.

Some say that science and technology are leading us to our own extinction. But extinctions are part of historical reality- with or without science.

Just as with spirituality and evolution, why does it have to be 'either or'?

Hathaway said, "Science gives us everything worthwhile we now have."

Surely you didn't really meant that! Perhaps you were exaggerating for effect. I don't know. But, obviously there are many worthwile things in life that science didn't 'give' us and humans had a perfectly worthwhile life before there was anything called 'science'. I don't want to get sappy here but everything in the natural world, the earth, solar system and universe were not given to us by science. My conscious experience, my emotions, music, art and literature I think help to make my life worthwhile and none of them were given to me by science; neither was my family and all of those people in my life from which I have learned so much!

This sunny morning as I and my dog walked through the woods filled with blue phlox, ferns, delphinium, spring beauties and many many other amazing and beautiful plants, I thought to myself that paradise couldn't be any more perfect than this and none of that was given to me by science to make my life worthwhile.

Come on now. Think a little deeper. (I suspect you just need to live a little longer.) - AOD

"Some say that science and technology are leading us to our own extinction. But extinctions are part of historical reality- with or without science."

Well ... yeah. But if our science and technology turn out to be the proximate cause of humanity's extinction, then it would be fair to say that scientific progress proved to be a double-edged sword.

W Hathaway,

||How is progress a myth||

I never said that.


||Progress is the result of historical accretion of rationally observing how reality works and the growing collective memories of humans.||

Basically no argument with you there.

||Religions had a very poor, false understanding of reality.||

I am of the opinion that religions (broadly speaking) at one point in their respective histories advanced our understanding of reality, but religious thinking (that is, dogmatic religious thinking) doesn't serve us well in 2015. It had its pros and cons, but Abrahamic religion did indeed help advance science, morality, etc., directly and indirectly.


||Science gives us everything worthwhile we now have.||

I assume you mean over and above what we had already simply due to Nature. And that depends on how you define "science." For example, mathematics predates "science" as modernly conceived, and it is absolutely necessary in order for science to function at all.

||Some say that science and technology are leading us to our own extinction. But extinctions are part of historical reality- with or without science.||

What Michael said. Overall, your comment doesn't seem to argue against what I said in the post.

“This sunny morning as I and my dog walked through the woods filled with blue phlox, ferns, delphinium, spring beauties and many many other amazing and beautiful plants, I thought to myself that paradise couldn't be any more perfect than this and none of that was given to me by science to make my life worthwhile.”- AOD

Yes, as Matt said-I meant gratitude for science over and above what nature gives us -except it’s really a mistake to say nature gives- we’re part of nature, and if it gives it also equally takes, given the chance. Science intervenes to try to prevent the taking. Hence human population increase and longevity.

We can’t enjoy a walk in the woods if we are all falling over with smallpox and venereal diseases or if our minds are preoccupied with a failed harvest because our seedcorn wasn’t genetically engineered. I think you have a romanticised view of reality. If you analyse it, you will likely find you spend more time on your laptop or watching TV than you do in the woods. Most people do. When I visit the woods, they’re usually empty – that’s part of their attraction. Also, the science of botany improves one’s appreciation of plants.

“Well ... yeah. But if our science and technology turn out to be the proximate cause of humanity's extinction, then it would be fair to say that scientific progress proved to be a double-edged sword.” – Michael Prescott

Nevertheless, there is absolutely no question of abandoning the scientific worldview and all its technological benefits. It would have to be dragged from our cold, dead hands.

It's funny Hathaway, how two people can walk in the woods and one experience emptiness and the other experience paradise. I guess it all comes down to the individual and that perhaps reality exists within the individual not outside of him.

I acknowledge that individuals by discovering certain existing 'scientific' principles have at some level added to the human life experience but as Michael said, science may turn out to be a "double-edged sword". I suspect that few people would abandon the discoveries that science has brought however, but it is certainly appropriate to question “science’ and to seriously consider whether or not the knowledge science brings is complete or lacking. I think it is a mistake to regard ‘science’ as a god and believe that science is the be all and end all of everything that is worthwhile. - AOD

Yes, I admit it. I sometimes have a romanticized view of things; a desire to see things in the best and most beautiful way they could be. One could label me a 'romantic' I guess although I am also many other things.

I see in my thesaurus that the antonym of romantic is " realistic, prosaic, uninspiring, unloving, unimpassioned, dispassionate, coldhearted, unsentimental, insensitive, unaffectionate". Take your pick Hathaway!

Romanticism or being a romantic is not a 'dirty word' in my opinion. It is the romantics of the world who have brought into being many things that make life enjoyable and worthwhile. - AOD

I occupy specific cases about an afterlife and how we can study it currently, instead of focusing on such general issues as the Western myths, what some pseudo-skeptics suppose, among other meta-issues...

Hi Matt,
I had to really go back and try to find where I disagreed. I'm not sure I would call it a disagreement after a quick review. I think the only place where I "might" have a departure is on the question of the all controlling authority. On one hand I agree that I certainly don't see "god" as an old man in the sky. Although, if I'm honest there is a point where I do still personify God from my Christian upbringing and tradition. I love the response by Julie and I really like this conversation you have started.

I think that while there more than likely isn't a puppet master micro managing everything. I still think there is one eternal state of "being" that we all come from. Self intelligent and self knowing. I'm still working it out. I suspect that reincarnation and soul growth and evolution is an eternal process toward self knowing or God.

Of course I don't do dogma anymore so I could be wrong. :-)Also, I don't think of God as a super human being angered or pleased as if he/she is part of creation. Ah, the joys of having been raised in a religion and not being able to intellectually embrace it any longer but, also not completely jettisoning the whole thing. Or as a former fundi write put it recently: "Why I still talk to Jesus in spite of everything." :-)

W Hathaway to Amos Oliver Doyle:

<< I think you have a romanticised view of reality. >>

Maybe AOD has, and I have too. But it's all too easy to romanticise things.

For example, it's very common for people to romaticise science.

Admittedly, science has brought us longer life and more abundant food, fast communications, knowledge of the universe and lots of techie-toys to play with.

It's also brought us global warming, exhaustion of fossil fuels, pollution, demineralisation of the soil, destruction of rainforests, nuclear warheads, chemical weapons, cluster bombs, machine guns, cyber-crime, MRSA, increasing rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and massive levels of iatrogenic disease.

Science is just a tool. It is neither good nor bad. The way in which science is used, or should be used, is largely dependent on human factors which are completely separate from science. Power, prestige, and money, for example, play their part.

Science is not a religion. Science is not the Source of All Good Things. Science is not the Only Path to Knowledge or the Way, the Truth and the Life. Scientists are not priests. Stephen Hawking is not the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Scientific Consensus is not Holy Writ.

Science is just a tool. We forget this at our peril.


"Nevertheless, there is absolutely no question of abandoning the scientific worldview and all its technological benefits. It would have to be dragged from our cold, dead hands."

And, I repeat, why is it an either/or issue? Knowledge and understanding come via many diverse routs. My academic background is science-based but I don't have a fundamentalist attitude towards it.

Quite honestly, I don't understand the divisions in most of the issues discussed here.

If you take a walk in my woods behind my house you're going to get ticks and chiggers. Seriously! I got bit by a small tick back behind our house and developed some kind of purplish reddish rash from it and it started moving down my leg so I went to the doctor and he prescribed a 10 day course of doxicycline which meant I couldn't eat dairy for 10 days. It was torture because I love cheese!

And oh yeah, I'm a believer. Not that it matters. Ticks bite atheists just as often as believers I suppose?

"Yes, I admit it. I sometimes have a romanticized view of things; a desire to see things in the best and most beautiful way they could be." AOD

You are rather like John Keats...except that he died very young of tuberculosis. Wouldn't it have been wonderful if modern medicine could have saved him?

This is a very interesting and illuminating post.

I completely agree with the author that skeptics and materialists DO derive comfort from their beliefs. It's the comfort of inhabiting an universe where everything has its proper place and everything can be aprehended by reason.

It's not a coincidence that lots of capital S Skeptics are controlling personalities.

I also agree that belief is sometimes cold comfort. And that Ufology is often some sort of dark mirror for NDEs, mediumship, and other more benign, comforting phenomena.

What strikes me when I read some ufology books is how they fit well with most other psi phenomena (spiritual bodies, past lives, other dimensions, all appear in ufology literature), but they also include these powerful entities that are either malevolent or indifferent to human beings, and they traumatize and violate human beings that are completely helpless, and if you're honest and open about the ton of good evidence for NDEs, mediumship, and other phenomena that points to Survival, you have to be open to the ton of good evidence that abdutees are not just making it all up.

One thing about UFOs that's always seemed odd to me is that they seem to be only a recent phenomena, with people only reporting them in the last 100 years or so. On the other hand, at one time, many people in Western Europe seemed to think that "the little people," elves and fairies, existed. Now you only hear about believing in the little people in Iceland - where many people really do seem to believe in them - enough to raise a fuss if a road is planned for a place where they believe the little people live.

Anyway, there seems to be a need among people of very differing cultures to believe in some kind of extra-natural or special beings with superior powers.

Thank you Fred. You said what I have run out of energy to write.

And yes, Hathaway, I suppose Keats might have been saved by modern medicine, but maybe not. Both my aunt and great aunt died of tuberculosis in an age of modern medicine. (My aunt died at Mayo's Clinic from tuberculosis of the spleen!) Modern medicine doesn't quite have the cure-all for everything yet. If you put your faith in the science of modern medicine you are sure to be disappointed and I speak from experience.- AOD

Another odd thing about UFOs is that sightings have declined significantly in the last decade, just at a time when cellphones with cameras have become ubiquitous. I don't know what this means. Were most of the earlier claimed sightings hoaxes? Or do the phenomena somehow resist being recorded photographically?

Also, prior to the 20th century, there were reported sightings of sailing ships in the sky - tall-masted schooners and similar things floating amid the clouds. It's as if our minds interpret some kind of impossible-to-process stimulus in terms of whatever technology is familiar to us in our historical context - sailing ships in the 19th century, alien spacecraft in the 20th century, and perhaps angels and demons in earlier times. But what is the initial stimulus? Is it purely psychological or something "objective"?

With regard to alien abductions, I suspect that most of these are OBEs that have been misinterpreted as physical experiences. The signposts of OBEs are all present - first a state of sleep, half sleep, or drowsiness, then feeling a vibration throughout your body, then hovering in the air, then passing through a seemingly solid wall. The descriptions of being tortured by nonhuman beings correspond with accounts from shamanistic vision quests (and some hellish NDEs).

Stephen Snead,

Thanks, I basically agreed with everything you wrote!

Michael,

||Another odd thing about UFOs is that sightings have declined significantly in the last decade, just at a time when cellphones with cameras have become ubiquitous. I don't know what this means. Were most of the earlier claimed sightings hoaxes?||

People are getting plenty of cell phone videos of UFOs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX9kWHlO1lg

I had an argument with a friend recently that got pretty heated. He wanted to know why ghosts were never captured on video now that video is ubiquitous. I told him to search on "ghost security camera" on YouTube. But then why wouldn't the media declare that ghosts were real? Well, the media actually do report on these things these days, and they are not totally dismissive.

I don't know if reported sightings of UFOs have gone down or not, or how that would even be measured (reports to the police, other authorities, etc.?).

||Or do the phenomena somehow resist being recorded photographically?||

Or do they *try* to be photographed *just so*? That's how it seems to me. UFOs to me aren't about things trying to stay hidden but things trying to tantalize us with a glimpse.

||But what is the initial stimulus? Is it purely psychological or something "objective"?||

Definitely a missing piece of the puzzle for me.

||With regard to alien abductions, I suspect that most of these are OBEs that have been misinterpreted as physical experiences. The signposts of OBEs are all present - first a state of sleep, half sleep, or drowsiness, then feeling a vibration throughout your body, then hovering in the air, then passing through a seemingly solid wall. The descriptions of being tortured by nonhuman beings correspond with accounts from shamanistic vision quests (and some hellish NDEs).||

Exactly. They seem like Astral experiences. Are people drawing upon collective thoughtforms, or do the Greys exist as "full-scale" beings? Whitley Streiber in Communion is very much on the fence as to their nature and provides several hypotheses.

I have encountered benevolent ETs in OBE-like experiences that initiated healings and provided advice. These were not my own original ETs but beings that people talk about: Arcturians, Mantis ETs, Pleiadeans. Again, their relationship to "real" beings, if any, is unclear.

One thing the Internet made clear is that myth is alive and well in the 21st century. There are elaborate videos on YouTube about the Illuminati, quite serious and believing in approach. There is an infinite variety of conspiracy theories, as we all now. There are videos about positive phenomena as well. Materialism tells us that all of this stuff is in our heads. Maybe not. Collective consciousness may be able to alter physical reality based on myth, or mythical beings (a la functional entities) may have an objective reality of their own.


Hathaway to AOD:

<< You are rather like John Keats...except that he died very young of tuberculosis. Wouldn't it have been wonderful if modern medicine could have saved him? >>

It would have been, yes. But on the other hand, if Keats had lived in the 20th century, suffered from arthritis, and had been prescribed Vioxx™, modern medicine would probably have killed him.

Science is just a tool.

"How is progress a myth when I have a computer and smartphone that work without intervention from gods or angels? How is illness defeated by western medicine but not prayer or visits to Lourdes? No mist or ambiguity - it either works or it doesn't."

What is a myth is not progress but eternal progress, the belief that science and technology will progress indefinitely. And with the mention of gods, angels and cures of Lourdes, you insinuate that all fringe can get into the same bag? Pseudo-skeptic error: for some anomalous phenomena there is much more evidence than for others, for example, there is more evidence for apparitions of the deceased human beings that for angels.

Yes, we live in a highly technological society, but psychical research has shown that an afterlife may be subject to scientific study, that is, science and spirituality can go together...

"I don't know if reported sightings of UFOs have gone down or not, or how that would even be measured ..."

Quite a few sources say that sightings have been on the decline for years.

http://goo.gl/sg1ag

http://www.ufodigest.com/spielberg.html

But as I scrolled further into the results of a Google search ("UFO sightings decreasing," without the quote marks), I found that other sources contradicted this claim, and said that sightings had actually increased.

So I guess I don't know. The meme that sightings are on the decline may simply be Skeptical propaganda.

See that, Roger Knights? Capital S! I think I like it.

"No mist or ambiguity - it either works or it doesn't."

Ah, if only everything were this simple!

But ambiguity is very much a part of life - and even part of science. All the different interpretations of quantum mechanics work, in the sense that they are all consistent with the equations, but they can't all be true. Quantum physics and relativity theory both work, but have yet to be reconciled. Gravity works, but we don't understand how. Consciousness works, but we don't know what it is, where it comes from, or whether it's epiphenomenal or "hypophenomenal" (https://goo.gl/UQk3VW).

Life got started somehow, but since a cell requires proteins, and proteins are assembled by ribosomes, and ribosomes are made of proteins, we have a chicken-and-egg problem that has yet to be solved. Not to mention the conceptual difficulties in explaining the origins of DNA (or RNA) ...

Then there's the universe, which appears to have been exquisitely fine-tuned to allow for the emergence of sentient lifeforms, a fact that science tries to explain by positing an almost infinite number of parallel universes, each with a different set of initial conditions. This explanation "works," but only if we're prepared to accept a very large empirical claim for which there is no supporting evidence.

The deeper you go, the more questions you find, and the more ambiguous and mist-ifying this seemingly solid world looks. :-)

Michael,
You must have been reading "Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design" by Stephen C. Meyer previously recommended above by Simon Oakes. I purchased a copy and am about a quarter of the way through it. I found the book extremely informative and chock full of many details about the discovery of the structure of DNA and its role in protein synthesis and how that all may support the idea of 'Intelligent Design'. Although it may be more understandable if one has a background in biology I think with a rudimentary understanding of cell structure it is very readable.

Perhaps this book is undervalued and unrecognized for the significance of the hypotheses contained therein. There is a lot of thought-provoking ideas in it and well worth the low price of 15 bucks ($14.00 for Kindle) for 610 pages.

I second Simon Oakes' recommendation. - AOD

“But ambiguity is very much a part of life - and even part of science. All the different interpretations of quantum mechanics work, in the sense that they are all consistent with the equations, but they can't all be true.” – Michael Prescott

I’m not concerned about theories, I’m concerned about the scientific method: observation, trials and then application. There are often anomalies (the theories aren’t perfect), but as you know, there is already enough understanding to give us huge material benefits. I’m a bit surprised you think gravity is an issue. Einstein demonstrated that it’s not strictly a force, but curvature of spacetime in the presence of mass, and his equations are extremely accurate.

There is not enough understanding of consciousness yet, though Daniel Dennett’s ideas of a committee arising from the various regions of the brain seem to make sense. In support of his ideas, I am always amused to observe (yes, observe – that’s the start of science!) how often people say one thing and do another - how often they display hypocrisy. For instance, at the religious level, the talk is of Love, but the actions are often of hate, rage or intolerance of those who don’t agree with them. Can you doubt this?

“What strikes me when I read some ufology books is how they fit well with most other psi phenomena (spiritual bodies, past lives, other dimensions, all appear in ufology literature), but they also include these powerful entities that are either malevolent or indifferent to human beings, and they traumatize and violate human beings that are completely helpless, and if you're honest and open about the ton of good evidence for NDEs, mediumship, and other phenomena that points to Survival, you have to be open to the ton of good evidence that abductees are not just making it all up.” - Rene

There is evidence from the minds and mouths of people for occult happenings, and sometimes physical traces, but is it reliable and repeatable or is it airy and contradictory? Can we learn from it and apply it to our lives?

Quite frankly, unless it is consistent enough to have some utility, it must remain firmly in the realm of story or myth rather than demonstrable fact. Humans do enjoy stories – but the danger comes when these stories are treated as facts. Need I mention the bible and how even now, it is used by so many to contradict evolution?

“If you put your faith in the science of modern medicine you are sure to be disappointed and I speak from experience.- AOD

I’m not sure that this really deserves a response, but you must be aware that millions do trust modern medicine, and indeed, depend on it. For example, if you have severe type 1 diabetes, you would not survive long without modern medicine. And we have all been inoculated against horrible diseases. Mistakes are made, usually due to imperfect trials (thalidomide for example). This does not invalidate the scientific method- rather it reinforces the need to stick rigorously to it!

"There is evidence from the minds and mouths of people for occult happenings, and sometimes physical traces, but is it reliable and repeatable or is it airy and contradictory? Can we learn from it and apply it to our lives? Quite frankly, unless it is consistent enough to have some utility, it must remain firmly in the realm of story or myth rather than demonstrable fact."

Each person must decide these things for himself. For me, there is more than enough evidence to establish the strong probability of life after death. A good introductory book on the subject is Stop Worrying: There Probably Is an Afterlife, by Greg Taylor. ( http://goo.gl/uG0ghE )

As for repeatability, there have been decades-long investigations of particular mediums, statistical studies of groups of mediums, etc. There are also many methodical studies of NDEs and spontaneous (not hypnotically induced) reincarnation memories. But since we're dealing with human behavior, there are limits to what can be done. Parapsychology is more like field anthropology than physics. Repeatability isn't a criterion in anthropology, yet anthropology is still a science.

Can we learn from it? I've learned a great deal from my study of NDEs, channeled writings, and similar material.

Does it have utility? I'm not sure this is a valid criterion for scientific (or metaphysical) truth. Learning about the lifeways of aboriginal tribes or the reproductive cycle of an earthworm may have no clear-cut utility. What is the utility of string theory or the Big Bang Theory or the multiverse theory? Most of "pure science" has no obvious utility; this is what makes it "pure." But there is evidence that people who immerse themselves in the study of NDEs report a significant change in their personality, their priorities, and their outlook on life.

"For instance, at the religious level, the talk is of Love, but the actions are often of hate, rage or intolerance of those who don’t agree with them. Can you doubt this?"

I certainly can't. And to advance that train of thought, try M. Scott Peck's 'People of the Lie'.

“For me, there is more than enough evidence to establish the strong probability of life after death. A good introductory book on the subject is Stop Worrying: There Probably Is an Afterlife, by Greg Taylor.” … there is evidence that people who immerse themselves in the study of NDEs report a significant change in their personality, their priorities, and their outlook on life.” - Michael Prescott

But how can an afterlife, if it exists, help us in this life? By definition, it is not here and now. That religious and occult experiences alter many a person’s outlook is unquestionable. The real questions are: to what end, and is the new outlook fruitful and worthwhile? Will it further human endeavour or hinder it?

For instance, if someone claims to have had hellish mystical experiences on “astral planes”, should that be a worry for us here and now? I should hope not! We could become distracted from sensible living, turning vague dreams and nightmares into firm beliefs, which we treat as facts, whether these are positive or negative.

You say that not all scientific theories can be correct; I say that all the myriad religions and occult beliefs are (almost certainly) incorrect!

Hathaway, with all due respect, I think you have made your point. By using the scientific method, great advances have been made in ameliorating and curing human disease. Few people would disagree with this statement. - AOD

"But how can an afterlife, if it exists, help us in this life?"

1. It can assist in the grieving process, and in resolving painful emotional issues. Induced After-Death Communication is a form of therapy in which people apparently commune with deceased persons who were important to them, and sometimes overcome severe emotional problems by doing so. (Google: Botkin + Induced After-Death Communication.)

2. It can open us up to aspects of life we had previously dismissed or ignored. In my own case, I was a materialist and skeptic until I started to investigate these matters. My worldview has immensely expanded as a result.

3. It can make us better, more caring people. For me, in-depth contemplation of the life review reported in many NDEs made me far more aware of the consequences of my actions, and more concerned about treating others with kindness and respect. I was much more self-centered and emotionally remote twenty years ago than I am now.

4. It can provide a sense of meaning and higher purpose to life. An absence of meaning probably lies at the root of the anomie afflicting much of the developed world.

5. It can help us to develop our intuitive abilities, and to access parts of our mind (or our higher self) that are ordinarily cut off from conscious awareness. In my career as a writer, I've learned to rely on intuitive input whenever I'm blocked or stalled on a project. This has saved me a lot of frustration and improved the quality of my work.

6. It can offer solace at difficult times in our lives. Roger Ebert, facing death, told his spouse that this life "is all an elaborate hoax." Seeing the physical world as merely a temporary way station in a larger journey can put our troubles in perspective. When my writing career fell apart for a while back in 2009, I was saved from being too depressed about it by my sense that whatever happens to me in this life is transient and of secondary importance.

7. It can make it easier to handle the dying process. People today often are unprepared to face their own mortality or that of their loved ones. Desperate attempts to prolong life at any cost, even when quality of life is minimal, are one result of our denial of death, or our view that death is an enemy that must be conquered (which, ultimately, it can't be).

8. It can combat the logical implication of materialism that a human being is essentially a "meat puppet" or a DNA robot - a dehumanizing viewpoint that takes us "beyond freedom and dignity" (as behaviorist B.F. Skinner titled one of his books) and in the long run leads almost inexorably to eugenics, totalitarian control, and genocide.

I'm sure there are other ways in which learning about postmortem survival can be helpful to us here and now. Those are the main ones that occur to me offhand. There's also a broader point: If in fact this life is "an elaborate hoax," somewhat akin to the virtual-reality environment of a computer game, wouldn't we want to know it? Wouldn't the denizens of Plato's cave benefit from breaking free of their shackles and finally stepping into the sunlight, rather than being forever restricted to a view of shadows on a wall?

W Hathaway,

||I’m not concerned about theories, I’m concerned about the scientific method: observation, trials and then application.||

I think you missed the part about "hypothesis," which is later called a "theory" when people feel/think/know(?) it has been proven.

In any case, although you seem on the fence between a Skeptical and spiritual position on things, you are making the error that Skeptics often do: treating the scientific method as some sort of codified thing, all bound up in leather and agreed upon by the United Scientists of the World.

There ain't no such book. Indeed, science is a social system prone to all the foibles of a social system.

Moreover, Skeptics tend to speak of science as though it were, in general, characterized by the replicability in the laboratory of physics and chemistry. With those two sciences, in general, you can say, "Lookie here, every time we do this, *this* **always** happens!" They then selectively trash anything that is not so characterized that they *desire* to trash while not trashing those sciences (e.g., anthropology, per Michael) that they do not desire to trash. It's some pretty funky epistemology they've got going on.

"I’m not concerned about theories, I’m concerned about the scientific method: observation, trials and then application"-W. Hathaway.

I think we are well aware of the scientific method, its purpose being to create a theory around a phenomena based on a materialist ideology. The scientific method and orientation is fine for objective criteria but falls short when it is applied to subjective ones however. We are social creatures and live in a range of social contexts- be it interpersonal, a group, a culture etc. Isolating variables of study using the scientific method on human phenomena within a society, has been troublesome to say the least.

"There's also a broader point: If in fact this life is "an elaborate hoax," somewhat akin to the virtual-reality environment of a computer game, wouldn't we want to know it?"-Michael.

Personally for me, the broader point is perhaps the main issue. By physicists adhering solely to a materialist based reasoning and measure, they have failed to address the conscious one that is so prevalent in our species. A historical ideology that sees consciousness phenomena and its study ( or a conscious universe ) as insignificant, is very unscientific if you ask me.

"Quite frankly, unless it is consistent enough to have some utility, it must remain firmly in the realm of story or myth rather than demonstrable fact" - W. Hathaway.

I don't know if it's a good idea to only study something if it's prevalent. Having said that, Psi, Out of body experiences, NDE's, etc, are prevalent, and is reason why these human experiences should warrant study. The way I see it, science has yet to understand much about the universe and is forever evolving. So rather than seeing ' a common human phenomena' as myth as it can't yet be objectified, is rather a moot point.

Cheers Lyn.

"There is not enough understanding of consciousness yet, though Daniel Dennett’s ideas of a committee arising from the various regions of the brain seem to make sense."

But Dennett does not study psychic phenomena so he little weight in this blog.

"Quite frankly, unless it is consistent enough to have some utility, it must remain firmly in the realm of story or myth rather than demonstrable fact."

That's a shortsighted pragmatism, because there may be many things that may not be immediately useful but they happen. In addition there is a spectrum between legends and myths and facts demostrated beyond doubt; some psychic phenomena are phenomena that have probably happen.

"But how can an afterlife, if it exists, help us in this life?"

It we can help to suffer less through death, to choose the best path after our death...

“If in fact this life is "an elaborate hoax," somewhat akin to the virtual-reality environment of a computer game, wouldn't we want to know it? Wouldn't the denizens of Plato's cave benefit from breaking free of their shackles and finally stepping into the sunlight, rather than being forever restricted to a view of shadows on a wall?”- Michael Prescott

The problem is, that you can’t know it – all you can do is gather contradictory or puzzling evidence. Our minds and senses have evolved in (and are primarily geared for) this reality, where the laws of nature are reliable.

The psychological help you mention is just the balm provided by any religion. But religion ultimately leads us away from reality- and personally, I think this is implied by Matt Rouge’s main post (even if it wasn’t his intention to say this).

Why the stuff about eugenics and genocide? I have already mentioned how modern medicine improves the lot of people – especially ill and vulnerable people. The vision of genocidal tyrants is a religious vision, whatever philosophy they choose to call it.

No, here and now I recommend to you the twin balms of utilitarian philosophy (the greatest good for the greatest number) and the scientific method as the best means to implement it. Onward and upward - at least until Nature finally takes back what we have so brazenly stolen from Her: I do agree the implications of the stories of Prometheus, Faust and Dorian Gray.

"The problem is, that you can’t know it – all you can do is gather contradictory or puzzling evidence."

That depends on the meaning of knowing. If knowing is absolute certainty, then I do not know if there is an afterlife, but if knowing is probably knowning, then I know that there is an afterlife. And without examine the evidence carefully your statements are empty.

"The psychological help you mention is just the balm provided by any religion."

I do not agree. I'm not religious, but the empirical evidence on a afterlife can give me a balm. Your rant against religions is off topic on this site, because I think most visitors to this blog seeking spirituality outside religions.

"No, here and now I recommend to you the twin balms of utilitarian philosophy (the greatest good for the greatest number) and the scientific method as the best means to implement it."

Utilitarianism can beget monsters with the logic of the end justifies the means...

Just curious Hathaway---that is I would like to make an observation by gathering some facts about your experience with and knowledge of what you would probably call myth. As I re-read your posts I see that you seem to speak in broad generalities presenting black or white choices with few specifics and little or no grey. Just how well acquainted with those issues of "myth" regularly discussed on this blog site are you?

Have you read Dr. Ian Stevenson's "Twenty Cases Suggesting Reincarnation" and his studied cases of Xenoglossy?; the decade-long studies of Leonora Piper by Hodgson, Sidgwick and Hyslop as well as other writings by them?; the complete works of Patience Worth and Pearl Curran and the intensive study of that case by Dr. Walter Franklin Prince? ; and the lifetime studies and voluminous writings of Frederic Myers and his associates? What is your opinion of these studies? - AOD

W Hathaway said:

"But how can an afterlife, if it exists, help us in this life?"

That's like asking: when I go to bed tonight, what good does it do me to know I'll wake up tomorrow morning?

It comes in handy. Definitely.

Of course, if you don't believe it's true, it's a moot point. But to suggest you can't see any value in even considering the possibility -- well, that doesn't make any sense.

It's in the "not knowing" that the lessons are learned. There is a very close connection between memory and emotion. The more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. If we knew absolutely for certain we wouldn't have such powerful emotional responses when someone we loved died if we knew 100% absoultely for certain that we'd see them in Heaven, or if we knew 100% absolutely for certain that this side was a hoax or illusion when anything bad (or good) happened. We'd think "Oh well it's just a hoax or illusion" and nothing that happens here really matters. But since we don't know absolutely 100% for certain we have strong emotional responses to all of life's lessons.

We simply learn here what can't be learned in heaven. It has to do with the difference in physics of heaven as described by near death experiencers and the physics of what experience now. Heaven seems to be a place where time and space don't exist and where past, present, and future all exist at once, and where the feelings of oneness and connectedness are so powerful that you literally feel like you are everywhere in the Universe at once and you have instant access to "all knowledge" and simply by focusing your attention on a time or place you feel like you are there.

But because of those feelings of oneness and connectedness it may be impossible to know or understand what it means to be separate unless you first come here and experience it. We have to experience enough separation so that we don't lose our sense of self after we cross back over into heaven.

"I had the realization that I was everywhere at the same time...and I mean everywhere."
http://www.beyondreligion.com/su_personal/dreamsvisions-kundalini.htm

"There is no distance here. So time does not exist."
http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/NDE_Experiences/mark_h%27s_nde.htm

"I had to merely think of a place and time and I was there, experiencing everything about the place and time and people present."
http://celestial.kuriakon00.com/nde/mark_horton.htm

It's in the "not knowing" that the lessons are learned. Not knowing is what evokes the emotion and emotion is what makes us remember.

“Consciousness Creates Reality” – Physicists Admit The Universe Is Immaterial, Mental & Spiritual

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/11/11/consciousness-creates-reality-physicists-admit-the-universe-is-immaterial-mental-spiritual/
-----------------------------

A new born baby knows nothing. They explore the space around them and experience time and by just being here they learn about time and space and being a separate person and become co-creators of what happens around them. They learn about separation and what it's like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time universe. They experience so much separation that they will never forget what it was like to be separate.

Then after their physical body dies they take all those memories with them to the place we call heaven and they can use that knowledge to create their own reality, and by focusing their attention they can be anywhere and anywhen they want to. They feel like they are part of the entire universe but they still remember who they are.

"This was very pleasant and comforting and went on for microseconds or billions of years, I have no idea since time just wasn't an operative construct and had no meaning or relevance to existence. I literally had the feeling that I was everywhere in the universe simultaneously....{snip}...I was unique yet I was the tiniest part of the whole."
http://celestial.kuriakon00.com/nde/mark_horton.htm

Emotions Make the Memory Last
More Detail, Easier Recollection With Emotional Memories

http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20050131/emotions-make-memory-last

W Hathaway,

||The problem is, that you can’t know it – all you can do is gather contradictory or puzzling evidence.||

Contradictory and puzzling like the fact that quantum mechanics and Relativity cannot as yet be reconciled?

Contradictory, puzzling... That's reality, my friend, when you go into the Mist. Even the hard sciences can take you there.

||The psychological help you mention is just the balm provided by any religion.||

I think this is the "too good to be true" argument in another guise. Well, some truths *are* comforting.

||But religion ultimately leads us away from reality- and personally, I think this is implied by Matt Rouge’s main post (even if it wasn’t his intention to say this).||

No. Humans make the "big picture" intelligible through creating stories, or a mythical framework, if you will. In order to connect Truth A with Truth B, we fill in the blanks with the best we can do at the time.

Greek Myth resonates with people around the world today because it is a concentrated dose of psychological and emotional truth, even if we have moved far beyond its cosmology.

Christianity and Islam each were holding vessels for truth that helped humanity advance. Though each was flawed, both religions fostered advanced philosophers, doctors, and scientists like Augustine, Avicenna, Averroes, and Thomas Aquinas.

I think we've well outgrown these religions as literal belief systems, but had we lacked them, we would have needed similar mythical systems to progress. The idea of science as it exists today didn't at the time and had to evolve.

I also don't think people are stupid for believing in religions today. Again, they efficiently summarize a lot of basic metaphysical and moral truths for people. Yes, there is a higher power, an afterlife, a moral code we need to follow. What I don't like about the Abrahamic religions as they exist today is their dogmatic way of looking at things, which is hurting humanity at this point.

||Why the stuff about eugenics and genocide? I have already mentioned how modern medicine improves the lot of people – especially ill and vulnerable people. The vision of genocidal tyrants is a religious vision, whatever philosophy they choose to call it.||

You're right. But in the 20th century those "religious visions" included things like Germans being the master race destined to rule Europe, if not the world, or Communism destined to unite the world proletariat under the red banner. Skeptics assume that humanity can tolerate a myth vacuum. It can't. When you drop the moral values of a spiritual system, you inevitably adopt the values of some secular system. Since human life is no longer a fundamental value, lots of people die.

Ah, but how about a noble, enlightened pure Reason? Take a look at the French Revolution to see how that worked out.

Now, do I think that if Dawkins and his buddies could inspire the world to adopt their form of materialism that genocide would ensue? No, because materialism is incapable of inspiring people on any appreciable scale. If you want to see a country that has lost its religion with nothing to fill it, take a look at Japan (where I lived for 8 years). An incredibly low crime rate, virtually 100% literacy, and perhaps the highest level of social cohesion in the world, yet it has a cratering birthrate and massive social malaise.


||No, here and now I recommend to you the twin balms of utilitarian philosophy (the greatest good for the greatest number) and the scientific method as the best means to implement it.||

The scientific method has practically nothing to tell us about what is good for the greatest number, other than providing basic facts upon which to base our decisions. Hitler will take the fruit of the scientific method and use it to invade Russia as effectively as possible. A truly moral person won't do that.

||Onward and upward - at least until Nature finally takes back what we have so brazenly stolen from Her: I do agree the implications of the stories of Prometheus, Faust and Dorian Gray.||

The trouble is that "onward" and "upward" are not objectively defined. You need philosophy and spirituality to do that.

Like your posts Fred and Amos, oh and Matt's for sure.

Its my one wish that humanity comes to realise that how we think is of major importance, as it is shown to affect not only what we understand ( by changing the matter in our brain-those atoms) but also those of the universe as well ( as represented by the double slit experiment).

Recent studies show for example that sleep lay's down memory by transporting experiences to the forebrain during sleep. Counselling also increases the size of the hippocampus, i.e. when we get depressed we limit our thinking to a negative loop, and counselling expands it.

So its how we interpret and experience our world- that forms our brain, and therefore our understanding of the world.

Studies also show that people become more accepting of others when they are exposed to different cultures. And I know from my own children who have attended a school in Asia with 53 different nationalities, how this has opened their appreciation for others by coming to understand their differing beliefs and cultures.

I know when I started my psychiatric training 'genes' were also seen as god (all those twin studies). But recent research (psychology papers I have done) show that even if you have a certain gene, lifestyle factors e.g. exercise, diet, etc determine for the majority of us whether that genome will even be expressed.

But science has its draw backs, gosh all those studies using white middle class american uni students and middle aged european women for cancer studies etc. And I don't know how many studies I answered when I determined exactly what they wanted to know, and how many didn't even have the answer I wanted on the sheet. Recent research suggests that opinions, hunches, really do matter and that researchers are all biased in some way and affect how a research process goes down. Oh and means- e.g. Alice Schwarzer the German writer whose recent book suggests that US troops raped 190,000 women in World War Two is a glaring example. Perhaps if she hadn't used a discreet approximation, they may have been closer to 200,? I could so go on.

Thats why the human factor matters in every capacity, how we think that is. And why physicists are such conservative materialists and traditionalists who have a love of formulas. And why we need to teach children when they first enter school to think more laterally, by giving them an understanding of differing cultures, beliefs and more particularly how people tend to think. Further to this, that we come to see the benefit of having different schools of a particular academic institution in the world exchange ideas, to increase their knowledge and understanding through exposure to alternative viewpoints and ideas.

Understanding that 'consciousness' is key in the world may help to limit 'black and white' thinking and the formation of groups like the ISIS. That me, me way of thinking and beliefs that sees the world in 2D.

For W. Hathaway, ha ha. Cheers Lyn.

I suspect the declining birth rate and massive social malaise in Japan might be less about a lack of religion and more about the fact that the Japanese are a highly intelligent race of people - at least six points ahead of us on the I Q scale. In Europe most babies are born to the less well off, poorer educated and less intelligent. Moreover, the warmest communities tend to be the less affluent ones.

"Posted by: Matt Rouge | May 02, 2015 at 07:49 PM"

I really like that response comment, Matt - the whole thing is right on.

“Humans make the "big picture" intelligible through creating stories, or a mythical framework, if you will. In order to connect Truth A with Truth B, we fill in the blanks with the best we can do at the time.”- Matt Rouge

Yes, historically this has been true. But the point about the scientific worldview is that it sees no gods, fairies, angels, monsters, demons or hyperdimensional intelligences, and is therefore able to examine and use the laws of nature to our advantage without fear or emotional compromise.

As I say, this will probably eventually rebound on us, but we are entrenched in that worldview now and cannot escape it. Nobody really wants to escape it. Nobody wants to give up the benefits we have garnered (some may *say* so, but so far I haven’t seen many refugees from industrial society heading for the rainforest to live in harmony with the devas and nature spirits there).

I won’t answer further points you and other commentators have made –I see I’m in a minority of one here, so I’ll just say thanks for your post- it was most thought-provoking.

Thanks Hathaway for sparking this post. For you and others I recommend reading Dr. Bruce Lipton's book titled "The Biology of Belief" which may have some relevancy to this post.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Biology-Belief-Unleashing-Consciousness/dp/1401923127

It has 594 5-star reviews on Amazon. Just reading the reviews may be informative. The book has a weak wind-up but most of the chapters of the book are very thought-provoking. - AOD

"But the point about the scientific worldview is that it sees no gods, fairies, angels, monsters, demons or hyperdimensional intelligences..."

You still go untreated the cases addressed by the psychic researchers and put everything in the same bag...

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