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My mother and father are the top two people in this photograph. I like to remember them this way as very happy young people on a warm sunny day with their friends having fun. - AOD


I agree with you. I can't help but note the extreme cruelty of physical life. People and animals call out in their fear and pain, and are met with...nothing. I think of animals, and how babies, the most vulnerable while still in the nest, are eaten alive, totally conscious as their small bodies are being masticated and consumed by a predator. And animals in slaughterhouses. And humans who endure agony, crying out and praying, whose pleas are met with stony silence. No one "up there" intervenes or seems to care.

I find it a bit sycophantic when religious (or just spiritual) people speak of a "loving god" or a "merciful god." These people seem to be speaking flattering words to God to try to provoke a benevolent response on His part, like a peasant would ingratiate himself to a king. But I just don't see any evidence of a higher power that is loving or merciful, at least not here on earth. So why call God that? If there is a creator of this world and its creatures, maybe "he" is not very sympathetic.

Once in a while, you hear miraculous stories of someone being saved by a guardian angel who suddenly intervenes, and then disappears just as quickly. Incredible. But these are few and far between, and for every story like this, there are a million incidences where there was no miraculous intervention, where the catastrophe was allowed to play out to its horrifying end.

I believe there is strong evidence for an afterlife. I believe it is a mostly subjective realm that is very much connected to our own subconscious and dream states.
But I do not see much evidence for a loving God. With that said, I believe strongly in the power of love, compassion, empathy and sympathy.
I just don't see those same qualities in evidence from an omnipotent being.

On the OTHER hand... ;-)
If we grow through suffering - and there's no doubt that we do - and the physical plane is ground zero for challenge and suffering, then it would be counterproductive for a God or spirit guide to step in and alleviate all our suffering. We are meant to endure pain and difficulty on a soul level: to toughen us, to season us, to wizen us up, and to mature us. A child MUST endure the pain of getting burned a few times so that it will gain the wisdom to automatically check the dial on the stove and reach for a pot-holder.
By entering into physicality, we have chosen to enter into an experience that is by nature tight and limiting and filled with resistance. It's by enduring this stuff that we grow. Grow more bitter? Absolutely.
But hopefully also grow more humbled, more wise.

Interesting discussion! Here’s my best take, in a nutshell.

We are not here at the mercy of a God who toys with us. On the contrary, we are pieces/aspects/offshoots of God. When looked at in toto—including the animals, plants, and all other entities throughout the Cosmos—we *are* God.

So why would God subject Himself, at times, to the sorts of agony Ro describes? Because it’s a fact of life—a characteristic of consciousness—that interest is created through variety. Sometimes it’s engendered through extremes. Which means that to know the most profound joy, we must likewise embrace the deepest suffering.

Does this make sense when you’re hurting? Often it doesn’t. Not at all. Because at such times, it seems like that’s all there is—pain. And it’s this sense of *seeming* to be without end that makes pain what it is.

But here’s the good news. The opposite is equally true. The ecstasy we are capable of experiencing also has a quality of purity and endlessness. That’s what makes it ecstasy! And believe it or not, when the fragments of God that we are return to this blissful state, we find that the pain has been worth it.

I do my best to find what joy I can, here and now. I couldn’t go another day if I didn’t. But it helps to know that this physical reality is but a tiny part of what I have been and will be.

Well, yeah, Bruce! - AOD

> And believe it or not, when the fragments of God that we are return to this blissful state, we find that the pain has been worth it.

Antinatalists would say that not even all the pleasures in the world would make all the pain and suffering worthwhile. Not that I'm one of them, but just letting go of that idea.

"Antinatalists would say that not even all the pleasures in the world would make all the pain and suffering worthwhile."

Juan, I guess that's taking a dislike of reincarnation to the hilt—even one time around is far too many!

But who hasn't felt that way at times? I certainly have. Though never, come to think of it, since my transcendental experiences back in the 90’s. And that’s despite some very challenging times. There are good reasons for my being here, and I suspect I'll be glad I stuck it out.

(Having said that, I’ve also prepared options to bring this life to an end, if it ever feels right to do so. I need to know that I’m here *by choice*. And not to lose control of my fate—I’m 73, living alone—to the medical establishment.)

But getting back to my larger point, I was reading Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness yesterday, and saw this:

“I was seeing and comprehending the sublime meaning of things, the reasons for all that had before been hidden and dark. The great truth that life is a spiritual evolution, that this life is but a passing phase in the soul's progression, burst upon my astonished vision with overwhelming grandeur. Oh, I thought, if this is what it means, if this is the outcome, then pain is sublime! Welcome centuries, eons, of suffering if it brings us to this! And still the splendor increased.”

Thanks everyone for your kind comments, Art, AOD, Ros, Bruce, everyone.

I've been thinking lately, about how scientist have come in the most recent decades closer and closer to answering some of life's most mysterious questions. None of them involve any higher reality.

Of course science can't "prove" that naturalism is right, it can just point at that possibility with an ever increasing body of evidence. But nothing in science is ever proven 100%. There could always be a higher supernatural purpose hidden behind what is meant to appear as a purely natural Universe.

It could also be all just an alien simulation.

But it turns out there are fairly sound explanations for many things that not long ago were thought to be "beyond" the realm of science.

Not so long ago, even Einstein thought that there had to be some greater spirit responsible for all this, now, most elite scientists agree that this Universe arose from nothingness, and that at quantum level this was not even impressive but necessary, the only thing that could happen, since "nothingness" is intrinsically unstable.

Yet, while ambiguous, I've known of so many "coincidences" regarding people no longer here, it all steel seems incredibly odd.

I'm trying to take comfort about my parents' death not in hoping they may somehow still be here or somewhere, but in knowing that they were once here, young, healthy and in love, and (even if it was for finite time) they enjoyed and suffered like the best of us, and loved me as much as I loved them.

Right here, right now is everything we can be sure of.

Of course, even while I may be growing more skeptical of life after death with each day that passes, I will continue to read this amazing blog, that helped me to cope with my mom's passing 6 years ago and since. And who knows, maybe some day we will know the truth.

"I've been thinking lately, about how scientist have come in the most recent decades closer and closer to answering some of life's most mysterious questions. None of them involve any higher reality."

Well, I don’t know about that. It’s generally acknowledged that the initial conditions of our universe appear to be "fine-tuned" within remarkably narrow tolerances to allow for stability and habitability. Scientists have tried to explain this in several ways, none of which is very satisfactory: a) There’s an infinitude of universes, all with different initial conditions, so by chance, one would have to be suitable for life. b) All possible universes exist in potentia but only one observed by a mind can be actualized, so the narrow pathway that leads to sentient beings will be retroactively instantiated by an observing consciousness. c) The universe is a simulation on some kind of extradimensional computer.

It’s hard to believe that any of these theories will ultimately prove true.

Evolution has also run into the problem of irreducible complexity (some biological developments have no utility and would not be preserved by natural selection unless coupled with other developments — the more developments that are are needed simultaneously, the less likely they could arise by chance), while the origin of life remains a complete mystery (proteins are necessary to manufacture other proteins, so how did the first proteins come into existence?).

The "hard problem" of consciousness remains unsolved, with some scientists reduced to claiming there is no such thing as consciousness at all. (I wonder what faculty they are using when they think up this idea, research it, and communicate it.)

If anything, I’d say the questions raised by contemporary science open the door to "spiritual" musings. Materialism was much more firmly entrenched in 1900 than it is today.

"Materialism was much more firmly entrenched in 1900 than it is today".

I think they call themselves naturalists these days... or was it physicalists? Not sure...

Of course they would not agree with that statement, and we do have to admit that many things and phenomenons we used to think as intimations of some deeper, mysterious or even spiritual reality have proven to have physical explanations.

But also, the more we go deep into issues such as the Universe very first moments, the origin of life or even the nature of consciousness, the more intricate it becomes.

And I'm sure that more than one here has had experiences with veridical content, as real as they get, that according to scientist could never happen.

For me there are several things that I find difficult to explain by evolution or survival of the fittest. 1. The evolution of vision, especially color vision as humans perceive it and the various forms of vision in not only mammals, birds and fish but also in insects and mollusks. 2. The evolution of the mammalian sex organs in two sexes. (Well it used to be two sexes). I don’t know how that all worked out so well. 3. Evolution of the wings of the bat.

I don’t know which of these three things is the most perplexing for me. Maybe it is the wings of the bat. How in the world did a small rodent like creature develop large sheets of skin attached between its fingers and its ankles and legs by survival of the fittest? Imagine a human evolving to that same extent that skin from the fingers would extend in a large flat sheet from the hands and get attached to the ankles and legs. Something else must have been going on.

Could it be “intelligent design”? - AOD

The thing that inspires such awe in me that I think there must have been deliberate engineering/creation involved in this world and its the spider.

Having strong silken strands come out of their bums, with little spinerettes that "direct the flow"...and using the strands of silk to drop down and suspend, and build their homes, and wrap prey...and now they're saying that the flying onto the wind that little spiders do is a result of their ability to detect electrical conditions.
I find them so fascinating.

I don't know how someone can contemplate the startling and brilliant variations that have emerged in various life forms, and just call it random mutation as opposed to seeing *design* in that. Maybe that's just simplistic on my part though, I'm not an evolutionary biologist.

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