THREE ESSAYS ON THE MEANING OF LIFE
“Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.”
– Winston Churchill.
These three essays have been an exploration for the Truths of the human condition in an attempt to find any special meaning or ultimate purpose there may be to our lives.
So how did we go – did we find “the meaning of life”? And, if so – what is it?
THE MEANING OF LIFE?
When asked what is “the meaning of life?” most people answer with things like: love; family; friendships; vocation; religion; community; tribe; country; art; music; compassion; beauty; health; hobbies; sport; romance etc. In other words we proffer, mainly worthy, but personal meanings – things which we find allow us, personally, some moments of meaningful purpose. But the more pressing existential question for the survival of humanity at this time in our history (where our technological evolution is much greater than our spiritual evolution – finding us with atom bombs but primitive religions or nihilistic materialist philosophies) is rather: does our existence have any ultimate purpose which allows our existence special meaning?
In an effort to answer this question we formed an expedition to explore the House of God and the House of Disbelief – both of which claim to be homes for the Truth of the human condition – then we explored without our Houses, along the Road to Truth.
Essay 1 (“An Examination of the House of God”) explored religion for Truth. We examined, particularly, the Christian House of God with which we were most familiar. All up, we found that said House was largely an unsound place to dwell because its foundations were unreliable – an incredible and contradictory Book: the Holy Bible. “Holy” because supposedly written/inspired by God, but our expedition found the Bible entirely written by man. The Old Testament containing: false cosmology; incorrect biology; largely mythical history; and an unbelievable, male, brutal, ethnic cleansing, jealous, needy, sexist, and parochial god of the one chosen people who invented him. This incredible Old Testament “g” god was also a complete dud – spectacularly unsuccessful in protecting his supposedly “chosen” Jewish tribes who were repeatedly defeated and subjugated by the surrounding children of supposedly lesser gods (Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Turks) – eventually ending up dispersed from their “promised” land into an always insecure, and frequently cruel, Diaspora. The New Testament of the Bible was also found to be unreliable; the Gospels – supposedly the “Gospel Truth” about Jesus’ life, words, and actions – were found to be contradictory in several places, which disagreements seem to have been driven by the differing proselytization needs of the competing factions among Jesus’ followers which arose after his death (e.g. Jewish, Gentile, Gnostic). The “Revelation to John” was found to be the dyspeptic ravings of someone who was unwell, and the rest of the New Testament (“The Acts of the Apostles” and various “Letters”) were found to be full of doctrinising about Jesus, not by Jesus. The end result being that in the New Testament the simple, essential, and observable “T” Truths, which Jesus brought us (which pretty much fit on one line): Love – even your enemies; Forgive – rather than seek revenge; Do unto others – as you would have them do unto you, were obscured/diluted by the incredible House-building “t” truths/doctrines of religion.
Many have wondered how Jesus’ simple message of loving, forgiving, and doing unto others translated into all the evils which flowed from the “Christian” House of God over the centuries which followed Jesus?
Our examination concluded that such evils were the product of all the contradictions in the New Testament – which led to many different interpretations and competing denominations – which waged evil and bloody war against each other. And the Truth in the dictum “Power Corrupts” was illustrated by the evils the House of God committed to retain the power it achieved after it became the State religion of Rome (and subsequently of most of the West). Heretics were burnt at the stake; tortured to death in bloody Inquisitions; and/or slaughtered wholesale (e.g. the Cathars). Another enabler of much of this evil brutality (in the name of Gentle Jesus!) was the decision by the House of God fathers to include the Old Testament (with its brutal Abrahamic god) in the “Holy” Bible. This primitive Biblical Abrahamic god (which has so bedevilled the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Houses of God over the centuries) is a “g” god of fear and revenge, invented and perpetuated by the religious officers of said Houses to install and maintain their own power and status. Such “g” god is the worst thing which ever happened to a rational belief in any God.
However, there have also been good people in the Christian House of God who managed to receive Jesus’ message of love, forgiveness, and doing good unto others – over and above all the other messages in the Bible. Such truly Christian people have contributed much to their societies (charities, hospitals, schools and universities) and much to the ethical framework of the West (underpinning civilising successes like abolition of slavery, labour reform, liberty from despotism, individual rights and freedoms). If the Christian House of God is to have any chance of refilling its pews, and thus be able to continue to do the good things it observably has done over the years, it needs to find the real Jesus – man and message.
Our attempt to find the real man, revealed that Jesus was a brave and spiritual man who tried to reform his religion (“You have heard it said…but I say unto you…) and for this he was killed. Jesus was killed by religion – not by “the Jews”, or the Romans. Neither did he sacrifice himself for our Salvation – to save us from our Original Sin (of being born human?) Jesus was killed specifically by his religion’s high priests in an effort to protect their power from his radical ideas and actions.
But what about the big message that underpinned the growth of the House of God – Resurrection? Resurrection was the big ticket item for the Christian House of God – the key to its success. Two thousand years ago, in a time when life was brief and brutal for most, the Christian House of God promised eternal life in heaven in return for belief (and in return for the power in our massed hearts and minds – and for the money in our pockets) – but what is the Truth? Our examination found that, despite all the disagreeing stories spun around the event of Jesus’ reappearance to his disciples after his death, we can know that Jesus’ disciples definitely experienced a paranormal phenomenon – an event sufficiently convincing to turn his previously cowed and doubting disciples into brave believers – prepared now to die for him rather than deny him. That such a transformation of the disciples is the Truth, not just another Biblical story/allegory/metaphor, is evidenced by the fact that the religion which they formed in his name endures to this day against all the brutal odds against – and is why we are still talking about a humble tradesman from the backblocks of Israel two millennia after his death.
We hunted for evidence of Truth in other paranormal phenomena in Essay 3.
Essay 2 (“An Examination of the House of Disbelief”) examined the soundness of the House of Disbelief, which, like the House of God, also believes that it is home to the Truth of the human condition. Specifically, the House of Disbelief holds the Truth of us to be that we are just accidental matter in an accidental universe. To imagine that our existence can have special meaning or ultimate purpose is ultimate vanity – and any God is unnecessary to a clear mind; and invisible to a clear eye.
However, our examination found, that while the House of Disbelief’s foundations were sound (mainly the observable “T” Truths of our physical sciences), upon these foundations have been built unsound philosophical pillars. “Pillars” like: the problem of evil; materialism; scientism; determinism; reductionism; physicalism; nihilism; existentialism; neuroscientism; behaviourism; natural selectionism; Neo-Darwinism; Freudianism; atheism; relativism; post modernism. Such “isms” have written materialist fundamentalism’s creed: “I believe that: the Universe just “emerged” from a state of nothing (accidentally); life just emerged chemically (spontaneously); all species including us then just evolved (mechanically); via nature selecting (blindly); for survival-favouring mutations (randomly happening)”. Leaving us necessarily devoid of any ultimate purpose beyond those of our selfish genes – and our existence necessarily devoid of any special meaning beyond our personal meanings. And leaving God without a role.
The House of Disbelief likes to think that all the above is as-good-as proven by our physical sciences’ (physics, chemistry, biology) almost complete understanding of our physical bodies and the physical reality we find ourselves in. However, our examination found that said House of Disbelief had no understanding of the nonphysical aspects of our reality – especially the observably nonphysical factors in the human equation – factors like consciousness, humour, dignity, shame, right and wrong, our spiritual self and its understanding and pursuit of non-Darwinian beauty. Physical science’s only explanation of such being the usual argument that their existence must be due to natural selection – without having the first clue about how (in a supposedly entirely physical universe) the many things observably nonphysical factors in the human condition came to be in existence, in the first place, to be so selected by nature in the second place.
Our examination also found that the supposedly compelling arguments of the House of Disbelief against the existence of any “G” God are, instead, just sound refutations of the unsound arguments that the House of God employs for the existence of its primitive “g” god. This is a good example of the fact that, while two diametrically opposed positions can’t both be right, they can both be wrong – in this case they are both wrong to base their argument about the existence, or not, of any God around only the Abrahamic god of the Old Testament – as if this is the only “G” God there could possibly be. The acceptance of this god by both parties means that all the House of Disbelief has to do is the easy task of demolishing the incredible Biblical “g” god – in order to claim demolition of any “G” God at all. Similarly, the House of Disbelief’s “Problem of Evil” argument used successfully against the House of God’s purpose and meaning of life (that life is a one-off test for eternal heaven or hell) – are held to be sound refutations of the existence of any and all ultimate purpose and special meaning of our existence.
The House of Disbelief was also found to be just as much about comfort for its own residents, as it accuses the House of God being about comfort for its residents. Thus comfortable in its disbelief, the House of Disbelief makes no effort to hunt for, and bag, big game – like what a real “G” God could be like, or real ultimate purpose and special meaning – contenting itself, rather, with the cruel sport of shooting the vulnerable, slow-moving sacred cows (incredible gods and meanings/purposes) of religion. All up, our examination of the House of Disbelief found that the only thing concrete about the House of Disbelief is the rubble it has made of the House of God – but you need more than a pile of rubble from an unsound building, to form a sound one in its place.
Having found that both our “H” Houses are fundamentalisms concerned with winning the argument for their comforting “t” truths, rather than finding “T” Truths which could be inconvenient, Essay 3 (“Along the Road to Truth”) then sets out to explore the new horizons – of a land beyond the blinkering walls of both our Houses – for any Truths that we could find.
Although I am not a Buddhist the title for the third essay was taken from one of Buddha’s sayings: “There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth – not going all the way, and not starting”. So, by starting we at least managed to obey his second injunction, but whether we managed to obey his first to go all the way along said road is, ultimately, for you to decide. All I can say is that our expedition explored the mysteries and miracles of the reality we find our selves (two words) in. Particularly the mysteries of our physical universe and the miracles of the human condition. “Mysteries” of our physical universe like: the incredible unlikeliness of something (rather than nothing); the incredible unlikeliness of life (from an inert, necessarily sterile, billion-degree beginning); the essential role of consciousness in the existence of matter; the intelligent mathematical language the universe was written in. And “miracles” of the human condition, like the fact that we (just atoms chemically alive) – can: speak the aforementioned mathematical language in which the universe was written; have nonphysical factors like virtues, shame, ethics, humour; can understand the beauty of non-Darwinian form, music, and art; have (are?) a nonphysical self – and the pivotal role of our being able to love that self to our happiness; have consciousness; have spiritual needs the satisfying of which “lifts”, “moves” us (i.e. not our atoms) and how we frequently spend our Darwinian survival capital, and risk our supposedly selfish animal genes, to meet such spiritual needs. To name a few of the things which are miraculous for us “just accidentally existing, chemically-alive and mechanically evolved atoms” to have.
In pursuit of answers to such miracles and mysteries we baulked at nothing – we explored the unnatural as well as the natural; the metaphysical as well as the physical; the paranormal as well as the normal. All up, we uncovered sufficient credible evidence to be able to conclude that the human condition is to be so much more than the House of Disbelief’s supposedly accidentally existing, chemically alive, and mechanically evolving physical matter of our bodies – and so much more than the House of God’s worshipper of a primitive, brutal, human god. And that such “more” allows our existence to have an ultimate purpose – beyond our body’s animal/genetic purposes, and the largely venal, bodily-survival purposes of our religions – which ultimate purpose, in turn, allows our existence special meaning beyond our own, personal meanings.
So, considering the findings of the three essays together – what answers do we have to the big questions of philosophy: Purpose, Meaning, Life, Self, Happiness, Love, Death, God, Everything?
To quote Churchill, out of the “intense complexities” of these questions, the following “intense simplicities” emerge:
The purpose of anything is what it does, and our state of relativity does creativity. Relativity “does” creativity by allowing the existence of relatively good, better, best – which allows creation through selection for best – evolution. Nature selects for relatively best genetic mutations to create our bodies; we create our selves by selecting for which of our behaviours make us relatively happiest about our selves.
Nothing which is creative can be meaningless – but the extent of its meaningfulness must rest in what it creates. Nature is creative, creating things physical which, under the law of entropy, must return to component atoms – thus things which are ultimately meaningless (for example, our bodies). We are also creative, we create things physical (things of utility or sensual pleasure) and nonphysical (beauty, joy, humour) – but the most ultimately meaningful thing we can create is our selves – nonphysical and eternal.
Life is not a test, but an opportunity – to create – particularly an opportunity to create/evolve our self.
We have bodies but we are our self. Life gives us an opportunity to be our true self; to truly know our self; then to grow our self – self creation. We grow our self until we are happy with our self. We are driven to do this by humanity’s unnatural need to be happy – “unnatural” because only humans strive to be happy – all other animals just strive to “be”.
Only happiness with self can be lasting because the self is the only source of happiness totally within our control – and the only source potentially eternal. Any happiness from fame, power, status, money, beauty is insecure because in the hands of time, others, and/or fate. Sensual happiness/contentment must be passing because all tickle is no tickle.
To be able to truly know our self, and to be able to love that self – is key to our happiness. We are our own harshest judges, but if others love us (our self/soul – not our bodily beauty, power, fame, talent, money etc.) that is the strongest evidence we allow are worthy of our own love. Such love from others is only achieved by loving them – everybody loves those who love them.
Death is just the end of one opportunity for self creation/growth/evolution. There is plenty of evidence that we have many lives – and no evidence that we must have only one. That our self exists with an animal body once is only proof of one thing: that such can happen – not proof that it must never happen again. Voltaire put it well: “It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.”
The incredibility of our religious “g” gods do not disprove the existence of any real God. While the nature of the Absolute must remain ineffable to our minds born and only experienced of the relative, intimations of a wordless “D” Divine are received when we – our selves – are “moved”, “lifted” by beauty, for example. And there is much in the crucial dimensions, forces, and finely calibrated ratios of our universe (all written in an intelligent mathematical language) which speaks of an intelligence higher than us.
The everything of this relative reality is its creativity. The Absolute is absolute – non-creative and purposeless.
So, is the above the “T” Truth of the human condition and of the meaning/purpose of our existence – or have we just found our own, comforting “t” truths?
The House of God would say we have failed to find the Truth – because little of what we concluded agrees with their Book (which, for them, must be the Truth – having been written by/inspired by God). And the House of Disbelief would also say that we must necessarily fail to find Truth because there can be no such thing as Truth (only our truths) – nor such things as ultimate purpose or special meaning in an accidental universe (which just “happened” in a state of nothing). And both Houses would say that this philosophy of meaning can be discarded because it depends upon evidence from the paranormal.
This is a bit rich from the House of God, because it is founded upon two, key paranormal events: the reappearance of Jesus after his bodily death, and Paul’s epiphany on the road to Damascus. But the House of Disbelief must shun everything paranormal – founded, as it is, upon our physical sciences’ claimed ability to understanding and explain everything of the “normal” physical world.
But let’s have a look at the assertion that this philosophy of meaning sinks or swims on the Truth of paranormal evidence.
THIS PHILOSOPHY DEPENDS ON THE PARANORMAL?
As we saw in Essay 3, three of the main tenets of this philosophy:
1.) that we are our nonphysical self rather than our physical body;
2.) that life is observably an opportunity to be, know, and grow said self;
3.) lasting human happiness depends upon being able to love our truly known self
– are not deduced from paranormal phenomena but are based on evidence from normal life experience. These three tenets, alone, can support a reasonably strong and rational argument for special meaning and ultimate purpose to our existence. However, such argument it is more compelling if we have many lives – mainly because it is a good foil for the strength of the argument for meaninglessness from the “Problem of Evil”.
As we considered in Essays 2 & 3, the House of Disbelief’s strongest argument against any special meaning and purpose to life (based the fact that life observably allows/enables our self growth/evolution) is the Problem of Evil. The Problem of Evil argument being: many lives are too short and/or handicapped to allow self realisation and self growth/evolution. However this argument for meaninglessness is seriously weakened if we have many lives. And so is the House of God’s meaning of life (that life is a once-off test for eternity in heaven or hell).
Because both of our Houses are damaged if we have many lives, both of them attack the idea – which they do by dismissing it as “paranormal”. In this they are relying on the taint brought by using the very word “paranormal” – such taint resulting from the many fraudulent commercial practitioners/entertainers which inhabit the field. However, the evidence for us having many lives that our exploration for Truth relied upon came not from paranormal practitioners/performers, but from academic and medical research (e.g. Professors Stevenson, Tucker, Fontana and Doctors Weiss and Wambach).
That said, some other conclusions of this philosophy (e.g. that we – our self/soul/consciousness – survive bodily death; that there are many ascending realities after this Earthly one; that our self/spiritual evolution continues in those next realities) have also flowed from, or are strengthened by, paranormal evidence and research. And, for some, that this philosophy seriously considers evidence from the paranormal serves to taint – even demolish – the whole of it because they regard such evidence as, at best, uncertain and subjective – or, at worst, totally fraudulent.
So why did we explore/allow paranormal evidence?
ENTERING THE PARANORMAL?
This exploratory philosophy not only accepted Faulkner’s challenge (from the Introduction) to have the courage to swim for new horizons beyond sight of our present philosophical/religious shores – but was spurred by Buddha’s injunction to not only start on, but go all the way along – the road to Truth. Thus it was in such spirit that we entered the world of the paranormal.
Further, paranormal phenomena experienced during our day-to-day lives (cf. those created by showmen/illusionists) are part of the human condition and, as such, have to be explored if we are to go all the way towards the full Truth of the human condition. Probably the word “anomalous” (i.e. not what is expected) would be a better word to use rather than the “paranormal” – with its wooo-wooo baggage?
Essay 3 considers at more length the reasons for, and risks of, entering the paranormal, but we will reprise a little of such considerations here for those starting with the Conclusion (something I often do myself – and as I advised those in need to do at the Introduction).
RISKS OF THE PARANORMAL?
There is no doubt that there are dangers (both personally and to our expedition’s credibility) in exploring the land of the paranormal – brought about not only by downright fraudulence and disinformation, but also by misinformation and incompetence on the part of genuine (i.e. non-fraudulent) researchers – all potentially leading us, not only intellectually into bad philosophy, but personally up the garden path. All of which makes the careful choice of non-fraudulent guides, and well-qualified researchers absolutely essential.
THE PARANORMAL AND HOW WE APPROACHED IT
In our exploration of the paranormal we were thus careful to confine ourselves to researchers and experiencers who mainly had academic qualifications and related professional experience in their field. Most importantly, we tried to select those researchers (often scientists or medical doctors) who had already achieved much in life – by way of personal integrity and respect, professional status, and financial sufficiency – before they went into the paranormal field. In other words they had much more to lose, than gain, by indulging in any fraudulence. Your typical frauds/commercial entertainers, on the other hand, usually start with nothing – thus have nothing to lose – but plenty to gain (commonly money, status, power, fame, etc.).
As well as the risk of fraudulence, there is also the risk of our expedition for Truth being derailed by our own confirmation bias.
THE RISK OF CONFIRMATION BIAS
While the most common customers of the paranormal are the recently bereaved in search of comfort, much information from the paranormal is attractive to the rest of us as well – for example, evidence of our (the self/soul/consciousness) survival of bodily death; reunion with loved ones; higher and more beautiful realities beyond our present one.
However, we considered the risks of such inner deception much reduced by our mindfulness of it – and by our criteria for those whom we allowed as credible and qualified guides.
Philosophy, to get anywhere, needs to take risks (something academic philosophy seems to have forgotten in its rush to be the politically-correct handmaiden to our physical sciences?). All up, we considered the risks worth taking. (In all fairness to academic philosophers, we have no tenure to seek or protect).
RISKS WORTH TAKING?
Even the finding of one true para-phenomenon of, say, realities beyond this Earthly one (through a genuine NDE); or of a communication with a surviving consciousness (through I.T.C. or a genuine medium) could have huge philosophical implications – demolishing our prevalent fundamentalist models of the universe (both materialist and theist) – opening up a whole new world of “T” Truth and the philosophy of meaning. In this we were encouraged by the words of the father of Psychology as a science: William James – who said: “If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, you mustn’t seek to show that no crows are; it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white.”
So how did our exploration of the paranormal go – did we find our white crow?
ONE WHITE CROW?
Our expedition found, in fact, several “white crows” – in the evidence of already successful, qualified and respected academic professionals – from various, different areas of research into the paranormal (e.g. NDE’s; mediums; ITC; past-life recall).
In the field of past-life recall – researchers of the calibre of Professors Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker, Dr. Brian Weiss, and Dr. Helen Wambach. In the field of séances and mediums – researchers of the calibre of Professor David Fontana and Professor Stafford Betty. On the phenomenon of NDE’s – researchers of the calibre of Dr. Sam Parnia, Dr. Pim van Lommel, and Dr. Kenneth Ring. In ITC – researchers like Professor Ernst Senkowski and Anabela Cardoso. We also considered general researchers of things paranormal from the past – of the calibre of Professor William James, Sir William Crookes, Professor Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr. F. W. H. Myers, Dr. Robert Crookall, Lord Dowding, Professor Sir William Barrett, Professor James Hyslop – and many highly qualified general researchers belonging to the British and the American Societies for Psychical Research.
Not a stage performer or fraudulent trickster in sight.
How about personal experience of the paranormal?
While members of our expedition were necessarily banned from personally entering the paranormal by attending a spiritualist/medium etc. (if we are to keep our intellectual distance and neutrality), I am aware of some intriguing experiences of a few credible friends. But such experiences related by friends can only be regarded as evidential to the receiver – and with a personal weight only, entirely dependent on the credibility of said friends based on our personal experience/assessment of them.
GOOD GUIDES INTO THE PARANORMAL EVIDENCE?
I personally found Professor Stafford Betty’s experiences and summary of the better mediumistic evidence (“The Afterlife Unveiled”, 2010) and Professor David Fontana’s experiences and meta-analysis of the evidence across several fields of the paranormal (“Is There An Afterlife”, 2005) to be the best non-ideological overviews of the whole paranormal field. While I have never personally sought an encounter with the paranormal,
MAIN PARANORMAL FINDINGS?
All up, Essay 3 found that the above confirmed each other on certain salient findings about the Truth of the human condition: 1.) that a spiritual self/consciousness exists independent of the physical body; 2.) which consciousness survives the death of our animal body; 3.) that we can have multiple lives; 4.) that there are other realities beyond this one; 5.) that our spiritual growth/evolution continues into these higher and higher planes of existence.
We also considered research by “normal” science into certain psychic/paranormal phenomena – which research has tended to confirm the validity/normality of such phenomena (previously frequently dismissed as paranormal).
“NORMAL” SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT FOR THE “PARANORMAL”?
There is an increasing amount of normal/orthodox scientific work being done on psychic phenomena, like mental telepathy, ESP, psychoimmunology, PSD, NDE’s, psychokinesis, etc. When discoveries from such sources is added to those from quantum mechanics, the lines between what has been previously regarded as paranormal and the “normal” are not as distinct as materialist members of the House of Disbelief like to believe. This from neuroscientist Dr. Mario Beauregard (Assistant Professor at the Neuroscience Research Centre, University of Montreal):
“Materialist scientists and philosophers are also led to consider certain phenomena such as psi, NDE, and mystical experiences as anomalous. These phenomena are anomalous only to the extent that we cling to the false assumptions of scientific materialism. Seen and understood through the lens of quantum mechanics, most of these phenomena do not appear anomalous at all. So-called paranormal events are, in effect, perfectly normal…The time has come for my colleagues to embrace the many possibilities of the universe opened by the new physics and free their minds from the shackles and blinders of the scientific materialist credo. ”
“Brain Wars”, Mario Beauregard. P. 212
We will have a bit more of a look at the implications of quantum physics in a moment (and a little look at just what we accept as “normal” and/or “paranormal”) – but first we need to consider what, exactly, is the evidence that materialist “S” Sceptics have that disproves any, and every, thing paranormal.
SCEPTICS’ DISPROOF OF THE PARANORMAL?
Essay 3 examined the evidence most commonly put forward by “S” Sceptics as disproof of paranormal phenomena, and found that there are six common arguments upon which they rely:
1.) Many operators in the paranormal have been proven to be fraudulent – claiming to be mediums and psychics but caught using such methods as “cold calling” techniques etc. to bluff people into thinking that they are communicating with the “other side”.
2.) Paranormal research has provided different descriptions of what happens after death and what the afterlife is like. If the “afterlife” is true, then every account of it should be exactly the same.
3.) Some of the information received by mediums is wrong.
4.) Honest believers in the paranormal are actually victims of confirmation bias – their judgement affected by what they want to be true (because beguiling) and/or by what confirms their (perhaps unconscious) personal prejudices and/or needs.
5.) There is no physical proof of nonphysical phenomena.
6.) The normal is just so real.
Let’s have a look at these arguments:
Argument 1: (Observable fraudulence)
There are, observably, many fake operators using supposedly paranormal “powers”, but actually using techniques like “cold calling” – i.e. starting off with a series of broad statements, some of which are bound to be true for some people (whether in a public performance or private audiences) then focussing in on these – for example: “I’m getting a message from someone called Bob, I can feel chest pains, etc., etc.”. These are actually cynical performers/practitioners, not the spiritual people they claim to be – making a lot of money from the curious, the needy, and/or the bereaved – usually satisfying them by supplying simple, longed-for messages (“your departed husband survives, and is OK – he sends his love and is waiting for you.” etc. etc.) The sometime “hits” of such performers are remembered, while their “misses” are wilfully forgiven/forgotten to retain the comfort of any hits.
While it is a fact that there are plenty of such fraudulent performers (i.e. not the “mediums” and “psychics” they pretend to be) must this necessarily prove that all paranormal researchers and phenomena are fraudulent? As considered (after William James): there has to be “only one white crow” to prove that not all crows are black.
Also, the information received by those mediums accepted as genuine by the researchers we used as guides into the paranormal, went way beyond such simple fraudulent stuff as the stage performers, above. Such credible mediums provided arcane, complex, spiritual and metaphysical information – often very personal and unknown to anybody other than the (often anonymous to the medium) séance sitter. Many of the highly regarded mediums sought no fame/notoriety (and often charged no money) – and were also in a trance, therefore not being able to question the sitter to elicit any information from them through cold calling or any other trickery. The séances which our researchers accepted as genuine and credible evidence for survival of self/spirit and the existence of other realities, were closely watched for fraud by experts – for example, the scientifically qualified observers at the remarkable Scole séances (where a magician was also used to look for any tricks). Some other mediums tested by rigorous members of the SPR, and eventually accepted as genuine, were closely watched 24 hours a day to see if they were indulging in any fraudulent information-gathering. One of the best, Leonora Piper, was closely watched for long periods over some months, even years – once even to the extent of being made to live in the investigator’s house during the course of a series of séances (often with sitters anonymous to her) – and had any mail she received opened. It must also be remembered that in Piper’s day there was no such thing as the ready information about people that we have these days via the internet etc. Despite all this Piper was able, for years, to pass on lots of arcane, secret, highly personal information from people who had died and were now in another reality. For Professor William James, Piper was his “one white crow”. All up, the researchers we relied on were not fools – nor recently bereaved – but highly educated (often in scientific and technical fields), and much too experienced in the paranormal to mistake charlatans for genuine mediums.
Argument 2: (Some paranormal information differs.)
Most of us expect that if there is an afterlife reality, it must just be the one simple reality on one plane which, like our Earthly reality, can be fully explored and readily, completely known. There is also the expectation that if our consciousness survives death, then everything is revealed to us at once. However, neither is the case – from the most tested and found credible sources, there are reportedly several planes of reality existing after this one – of increasing beauty and complexity. Those who communicate with us mostly report that they are existing on the next plane, and only have limited experience of the higher planes. What they do experience/learn of such higher planes they find hard to describe with Earth words. Higher beings who have evolved sufficiently to belong on the higher planes, are reported to have largely passed on from Earthly connections (and concerns) – thus seldom communicate.
Also some allegedly paranormal experiences (typically, NDE’s) are not paranormal phenomena at all. Sceptics accept any weird/mental experience as a “paranormal” NDE if an experiencer claims it to be such. Once the term “NDE” became generally known by the public, many have declared: “I’ve just had a Near Death Experience!” but actually experienced a blackout/dream caused by epilepsy; an anaesthetically induced mental phenomenon (e.g. especially from the drug ketamine); a frontal lobe seizure; an hallucination; a party-drug trip; a mental event caused by carbon dioxide, endorphins; etc. etc. These are mental events/hallucinations/dreams of the body/brain, not actual paranormal/spiritual experiences of another reality – and are usually varying, discrepant experiences. Sceptics see such discrepancies between these alleged NDE’s as disproof of all real NDE’s – arguing that if there is a reality “after death”, all experiences of it should be the same. An international association comprised of NDE experiencers and researchers – IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies) – has developed an authentication scale of key determinants of a true NDE. Those NDE’s which rate highly thereon, have a high correlation with two of the propositions pertinent to the conclusions of our expedition: 1.) survival of consciousness/self after bodily death; 2.) realities exist beyond this one. Such NDE’s also commonly concur about the great beauty of the next realities; the intense feelings of non-judgemental love; the experience of a life review; the presence of higher beings.
One reason for discrepancies between real NDE’s is that experiencers have different cultural expectations – higher beings encountered during NDE’s are usually given different earthly names according to the religious expectations/beliefs of the experiencer (e.g. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, etc.). Researchers have also found that some NDE experiencers (especially those who die suddenly) often initially encounter the personal expectations which he/she held in life – e.g. nothing, hell, conventional heaven – leading to many of the differing reports of “the other side”. It must be remembered that NDE’s are necessarily brief (before the physical body corrupts) – resulting in information which is vastly less detailed than that from a consciousness which is actually existing in another reality (and often has so existed for quite a while).
Argument 3: (Occasional mistakes).
Sometimes some of the information received through even the most comprehensively accurate mediums is wrong. But the sheer volume of correct information supplied often to anonymous sitters vastly outweighs the occasional mistakes – and information which is often intensely private, detailed, and arcane. The correctness of such information goes way beyond what is possible by chance and most often delivered by a medium who is in a trance – therefore cannot elicit any information from the sitter by any trickery like cold-calling. The Society for Psychical Research, which is comprised mainly of highly credentialed, often originally “S” Sceptic researchers looking for the truth of the matter (i.e. not convinced Spiritualists) conducted tests of certain accurate mediums, the results of which were regarded as highly evidential – like the “cross correspondences”, “book tests”, and “proxy sittings”.
The so-called “cross correspondences” tests organised by the SPR were in the form of a message from the supposedly surviving consciousness of a deceased person – sent to a friend/colleague who had known them personally on Earth. The message was sent in bits to a sitter through the separate mediums who were being tested. The various mediums were not in contact with each other and the messages were arcane information, of personal significance only to the sitter – and only making sense when the various bits from the various mediums were put together. The chances of fraudulence were thus zero, and the message was thus provably genuine. The so-called “book tests”, were comprised of information sent through mediums concerning the location (usually obscure) of certain books and the page number of certain nominated information. “Proxy sittings” were séances attended by people, none of whom new the deceased person supposedly communicating through the medium – so the medium could not pick up clues and hints from the sitters by telepathy or visual clues. The SPR successfully conducted several of these sorts of test on mediums of calibre (e.g. Gladys Leonard) – mainly in the early 20th century. Much of the SPR’s research is available on the internet.
All of the above, successful way-beyond-chance tests vastly outweighed the occasional partly right or sometimes totally wrong communications through the reputable mediums tested.
Argument 4: (Confirmation bias).
Sceptics believe that any intelligent, honest, non-fraudulent person who has come to believe that paranormal and/or spiritual phenomena are “real” must be victim of confirmation bias. They are humans, after all – and it is only human to seek confirmation of comforting beliefs – like existence of self after death; the survival of loved ones; etc.
While confirmation bias is definitely a thing, it is subjective – and the above tests of mediumistic transfer of information from other realities were objective. And, just as certainly as confirmation bias exists, so does disconfirmation bias. Many fundamentalist “S” Sceptics have such a need to “D” Disbelieve that they only ever approach paranormal evidence to discover the necessary fraud which must exist – and they find the proof of fraud in any slightest, theoretical possibility that such could exist. Their analysis of the remarkable Scole séances being a good example (the Scole séances are available on the internet for you to make your own mind up about.)
Argument 5: (No physical proof).
Stems from the assertion of materialists that if anything cannot be proven (nor disproven) to exist by physical science methods – then it cannot exist. This is a fundamentalist vicious circle – insisting that the nonphysical cannot exist because it is not empirically provable by physical means! However, while we can’t produce a lump of the nonphysical self to be measured or felt – we can know that it exists when we feel our said self being “moved”, “lifted”, “inspired” by beauty, for example (which nonphysical beauty, itself, we also can’t weigh on scales or heat over a Bunsen burner on a laboratory bench).
Sceptics usually try to disparage the mystery of our understanding and appreciation of nonphysical beauty with dogma like: “beauty exists only in the eye of the beholder”. Essay 3 considers the mystery of our understanding and appreciation of beauty at some length – here, we will just reflect on Darwin’s observation that some nonphysical part of us (our self) can be affected by something nonphysical (in his case, the beauty of a dangerous jungle):
“In my journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the breath of his body.”
- Charles Darwin, Autobiography
As Essay 2 discussed, residents of the House of Disbelief like to believe that our understanding and appreciation of beauty is naturally selected (we see a green valley as “beautiful” because it is fertile, thus good for our survival). But why does a denizen of a “green and pleasant land”, like Darwin, during his first experience of a jungle (on his world cruise on the Beagle) see it as beautiful when it is inimical to his survival? Considering this, Darwin had the “conviction that there is more in man than the breath of his body”. Not physical proof, but definitely nonphysical proof that there is more to humanity than our physical bodies.
Argument 6: (The “normal” is just so real).
Stems from the fact that the day-to-day physical world we live in is obviously so real: comprised of matter and able to be experienced through our bodily senses – touched, smelled, tasted, seen, heard – REAL. Anything that can’t be so experienced by our physical senses must be dubious (as is anyone reporting such experiences).
But while our body’s sensual experience of “normal” physical matter proves its existence – must the absence of any possible sensory experience of a thing, axiomatically disprove its existence?
Materialists have to say so, because they hold that anything/everything, to exist, must be of matter/energy – real, palpable – normal. For them, absence of material proof is as good as disproof of existence. However, we first need to have a look at the very reality of said material ruler before we can conclude on Argument 6.
JUST HOW REAL IS NORMAL MATTER?
So, just how real is “normal” material reality?
Let’s look more closely at matter, the supposed stuff of reality – the material stuff which materialists assert everything must be of – to exist. Has matter ever been proven, itself, to actually concretely exist?
No, in fact matter, once seen as so “solid, massy, hard, impenetrable” (in Newton’s words), has been shown by quantum physics to be largely illusory – more force than substance – sub-atomic particles don’t seem to exist in any way that makes sense – they actually occupy a point in space precisely zero metres across. Matter is more a wave-particle duality, a “possibility” of matter – which, even more strangely, needs our nonphysical consciousness of it to exist/resolve as matter.
Enter the Quantum Enigma, and, even more enigmatically, the mystery that is our nonphysical, non-material consciousness.
How do materialists square, not only the role of consciousness in the existence of matter, but the very existence of our nonphysical consciousness with their belief that we can be entirely described in physical terms – just matter and energy? Consider this from two quantum physicists:
“…most contemporary experts admit a mystery, usually one encountering consciousness. Although it is our most intimate experience, consciousness is ill defined. It’s something physics can’t treat, but can’t ignore.”
“Quantum Enigma”, Rosenblum & Kuttner, P. 10.
How about Darwinian evolutionary theory – surely this can explain away the problem of consciousness? As we considered in Essay 2, evolutionists believe that everything about us which is apparently nonphysical can be explained by natural selection (their “sonic screwdriver” which can fix everything). But how did nonmaterial consciousness come to exist in an entirely material world, in the first place, to be selected by nature in the second place?
The mind is obviously of our brain matter (studies have shown that brain damage can affect our mind) but is consciousness similarly just of our brain matter – like our mind is? What if the material brain is just a physical tool (which, like any tool, can be broken) – just a transceiver for consciousness? Which consciousness/soul/self is more truly “us” than our bodies – whereas our brain/mind just something we evolved and use to cope with our physical world? This from scientist Dr. Bernado Kastrup:
“Your physical brain and body have been just tools of your consciousness: a highly-sophisticated, semi-autonomous transceiver…somewhat analogous to any other tool you may have used to interact with the material aspects of reality…From this perspective, your body is not you; you are just its user.”
“Rationalist Spirituality” – Bernado Kastrup, P.101.
And what are the implications if “your body is not you” – if we are our actually our nonphysical self, our consciousness? This:
“It is inescapable to conclude from our argument that nobody ever truly dies and nobody is ever truly lost to others.”
– ibid. P.103.
So, evidence from a physical scientist which supports the key finding from our consideration of “paranormal” phenomena: that we, our nonphysical consciousness – our real self – survives physical death: “nobody ever truly dies”.
So what exactly is “reality”; “normality”; “paranormality”; “unreality”?
REALITY/NORMALITY Vs. PARANORMALITY/UNREALITY?
Which is more real: this “normal” relative reality (comprised of energy which needs our nonphysical self’s consciousness of it to exist as matter), or the “paranormal” reality of the afterlife (similarly existing because of our nonphysical self’s consciousness of it after the death of our physical body?)
Quantum physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner recount an argument they witnessed between four of their fellow quantum physicists (during a physics conference they all attended) – about the weirdness of quantum theory and its implications for the “reality” we live in:
“A fourth summarised the argument by saying, ‘The world is not as real as we think.’ Three of these arguers have Nobel Prizes in Physics, and the fourth is a good candidate for one.”
“Quantum Enigma” (2011), Rosenblum and Kuttner. P.9 (italics authors’ own emphasis).
More from Rosenblum and Kuttner in a moment, but the above accords with the supposedly paranormal information sent through a medium by Dr. F.W.H. Myers (founder of the Society for Psychical Research) after his death to fellow members of the S.P.R. – that the next reality which awaits us is the actual, real one: being “the original of the earth”. Myers described our world as being only “an ugly smudged copy”.
SHADES OF PLATO?
The above communication from Myers evokes shades of Plato’s cave dwellers, who mistook the shadows of the real world outside which were cast on their cave wall to be the real world – because those shadows were all they could see – therefore all they could “know”.
But some will always insist that the paranormal just seems too bizarre to be taken seriously – compared to normal world we live in. Such people have obviously not closely considered just how bizarre the “normal” world we live in is.
THE PARANORMAL IS JUST TOO BIZARRE (COMPARED TO THE REAL WORLD?)
You want bizarre? – I’ll give you bizarre! Consider what our physical sciences are telling us about this real, normal, non-paranormal world that we seem to be in:
· This, our universe, came into existence from a state of nothing.
· There is no “First Mover” to the universe (like a God) – although we are in an observably cause-and-effect universe – it is all effect and no cause.
· All the fine settings of the forces, ratios, constants, etc. which allowed the universe to come accidentally into existence (and continue to exist into the teeth of natural entropy) happened by chance – even though such forces etc. are written in an intelligent language (and the “chance” is trillions-upon-trillions-to-one against such fine settings all happening together by accident).
· We came to speak that intelligent mathematical language even though it is not necessary to survive (no other animal can speak it).
· Life – the emergence of the organic from inorganic matter (which matter was produced by a sterile, billion-degree big bang) – and the subsequent emergence of RNA and DNA – also just happened accidentally, chemically (the odds of such being accidental, again, trillions-to-one against).
· The original, entirely physical single-cell life then mechanically evolved into many lifeforms because of random physical changes (in the form of accidental mutations) to its physical matter. Some of these physical changes somehow eventually caused one lifeform to have nonphysical characteristics like: dignity; humour; understanding and appreciation of beauty (the experience of the latter often “lifting”, “moving” some nonphysical part of that lifeform) – further, as we saw in Essay 3, that lifeform often exhibiting such a need to be so lifted, moved – that it was stronger than its naturally selected drive to survive. Such stronger nonphysical need evidenced by frequently risking its physical body (with its cargo of selfish genes) in that endeavour.
· The above, apparently mechanically evolved lifeform reached the top of the food chain although having a non-mechanical sense of right and wrong, charity, shame, etc. – not possessed by any other lifeform (on Earth).
There are also other mysteries in our physical universe which we need to consider – for example, dark matter and dark energy.
DARK MATTER AND DARK ENERGY
Such matter and energy are called “dark” because we cannot see them. Physics knows that dark matter and dark energy exist because of their gravitational effects on galaxies. Science has also been able to discover that dark energy makes up about 68% of the universe, and dark matter 27% – totalling 95%. The first thing we need to consider is: the matter which we can see, and which includes the matter of which we are comprised (that we call “normal” matter) only represents 5% of the universe.
We also need to consider whether the dark 95% matter and energy comprises the reportedly vast paranormal world of many spheres? Communicators from the next realities which apparently await us after bodily death report that our self’s astral body is still of matter/energy (although less dense) – as are the worlds/planes to come. These worlds are reportedly of massive size and comprised of several levels or planes in/around/adjacent the Earthly one. A good account of the physics of the next realities are to be found in “The Afterlife Unveiled” by Professor Stafford Betty – a credible, academic, non-fraudulent researcher into paranormal phenomena.
Science in the form of quantum mechanics is also unveiling the possibility of realities beyond this physical reality – and that we may inhabit them:
A REALITY BEYOND?
“In chapter 15 we describe several contending views, interpretations, of what quantum mechanics is telling us about the physical world – and, perhaps, about us. These are all serious proposals developed with extensive mathematical analysis. They variously suggest observation creating a physical reality, the existence of many parallel worlds with each of us in each of them, a universal connectedness, the future affecting the past, a reality beyond physical reality…”
Rosenblum & Kuttner, ibid. P. 10.
Let’s see – that’s:
· “a reality beyond physical reality”: isn’t that what the researchers into the paranormal are telling us about: a reality beyond this physical reality?
· “observation creating a physical reality”: if our mysterious consciousness creates this our present reality! – why can’t it create the next realities?
· “many parallel worlds”: are these the planes of reality to come beyond this our present one that paranormal sources describe?
· “each of us in each of them”: obviously not our present bodies – so which part of us exists in these many parallel worlds/realities – it can only be our self?
· “a universal connectedness”: paranormal sources also inform us of a universal consciousness – the unity of everything.
All up, the above implications of quantum physics and of the existence of vast amounts dark matter and energy, form evidence for the existence of realities beyond this one – just as much as our experience of the existence of (“undark”, but still mysterious to us) present matter forms evidence for the existence of this present reality.
Can we continue to poo-poo the existence of the “paranormal” world on the basis that this “normal” material world is just soooo real? To restate the above conclusion from the debate between four of our leading physicists: “The world is not as real as we think” (Rosenblum & Kuttner).
RECONSIDERING THE WORDS “NORMAL” & “PARANORMAL”
Seems that we need to reconsider what’s paranormal? To repeat a part of the above quote from “Brain Wars” by neuroscientist Professor Mario Beauregard: “…Seen and understood through the lens of quantum mechanics, most of these phenomena do not appear anomalous at all. So-called paranormal events are, in effect, perfectly normal.”
Again, “anomalous” (deviating from what is expected) is probably the better word than “paranormal” which carries too much wooo-ooo baggage for many – which baggage, those who need to dismiss it for personal comfort reasons (rather than openly assess its reliability and examine it for any Truths) play on. This expedition will stick with paranormal (perhaps occasionally using anomalous or paranormal/anomalous – to make a point) because it carries no baggage for us.
So, what are the philosophical implications of the paranormal/anomalous evidence which our exploration for Truth considered as evidential (with the aid of the guides which we assessed as credentialed, credible, and genuinely seeking the Truth)?
HOW STANDS THE PHILOSOPHY OF MEANING IN LIGHT OF CREDIBLE PARANORMAL EVIDENCE?
Our expedition for Truth found that, after the dazzling triumphs of our physical sciences, materialism is overwhelmingly the dominant position of most academic philosophies of meaning – to the point that, academic philosophy, once well described as being “a footnote to Plato”, is now better described as being a handmaiden to science. Most in academia feel that the explanatory power of physics, chemistry, and evolutionary biology is such that these sciences, combined, form a comprehensive “Theory of Everything” – a bomb-proof materialist foundation for the House of Disbelief. However, if any of the information from the paranormal which we assessed as substantial enough to be considered “evidential” is correct, then materialism is unsafe – and materialism’s position as academia’s default philosophy (i.e. accepted as proven – everything to the contrary needing to be proven) needs to be rethought.
Materialism is a fundamentalism: the universe (and everything in it) can be entirely described and understood in terms of its physical fundamentals – matter and/or energy. Materialism is thus a monism – holding that everything, including us, is of one substance: mattergy – to coin a word (i.e. matter + energy which are basically the same thing). But evidence from the paranormal indicates that after our body’s death, consciousness survives (consciousness/self/soul – call it what you will) – meaning that the human condition is to be a dualism: human = body + self/soul/consciousness. This dualism is not the same dualism as the Cartesian dualism (human = body + mind) – which has been generally rejected by philosophy because, observably, mind is of our body/brain – not separate to it (damage to our matter/body/brain affects the mind). Essay 3 also found evidence for the body + self/soul dualism from normal (i.e. non-paranormal) phenomena – for example people who have experienced negative mind/behaviour changes after brain damage often choose to have brain operations to restore their previous better behaviours – a case of the self/soul (selfishly?) choosing to risk the animal body (and its selfish genes) because the damaged mind-driven behaviours did not make it happy (incidentally also a demonstration of both free will and our conclusion that love of self is key to any lasting human happiness). Essay 3 also found plenty of non-paranormal evidence against the human condition being a monism in the observable separate existence of our nonphysical self – “observable” in the separate and distinctly different needs of the self cf. the body (e.g. the self pursuing its need to be “lifted”, “moved” by beauty – natural and human-made – often at the expense of our bodies/genes’ survival). For example, when we engage in potentially dangerous beauty-seeking activities like bushwalking, mountain-climbing, recreational travel, etc. Even attending art galleries, classical music, etc. – while low in risk – still uses up survival resources (time, money, etc.)
All up, the monism does not describe the human condition accurately.
And how stands God in light of our exploration of both paranormal/anomalous and non-paranormal evidence?
HOW STANDS GOD AFTER OUR EXPLORATION?
The main aim of this expedition was not to explore for proof (or disproof) of the existence of any real “G” God, rather it was to explore for meaning/purpose in any Truths of the human condition that we could find (again, our working definition of “T” Truth = that which is true for everybody, all the time) – and through a consideration of any such Truths, to approach any special meaning and ultimate purpose that our existence may have. But, although our exploration was not about finding God it must be said, that in the foregoing process, we did find some evidence for the existence of a “G” God. And any “D” Divine, of course, is relevant for any exploration into meaning and purpose.
So what was that evidence – paranormal and normal – of a Divine (of whatever nature), and what does it imply for the philosophy of meaning?
NORMAL EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD/A DIVINE?
Essay 1 (“An Examination of the House of God”) examined religion, rather than God, and concluded that our present religions have incredible, human-shaped “g” gods taken from primitive Books written in prescientific times – during which era we had little understanding of the Truth of the magnificence of our universe, and therefore of the true magnificence of any Divine responsible for it. However, the paucity and incredibility of our primitive religious “g” gods does not mean that there necessarily must be no real “G” God (or Gods – for that matter). In fact, Essay 3 encountered plenty of evidence of a “D” Divine – firstly in the non-chaos of the universe resulting from its apparent blueprint. Such non-chaos/blueprint is evidenced not only by our universe’s essential dimensions, crucial forces and fine constants (all set in delicate balance and ratios to each other) but also the fact that all the above were written an intelligent language (mathematics). We know maths is an intelligent language because we, an intelligence, can speak it – a mysterious fact that also speaks against the “accidentalist” explanation for both us and our universe so beloved of materialists: if all the universe is accidental, how can we (supposedly just a further accidental product of it) speak the mathematical language that universe was written in – to the extent that we have become one of the creators of the universe through our sciences (like genetic engineering, for example). Mysteriously, we are creatures and creators of the universe – both. That’s odd for an accidental bunch of matter, accidentally alive and mechanically evolved through random mutations. And we also found evidence for something beyond blind physics in the nonphysical aspects of the human condition – how do we (supposedly just physical matter and energy according to our physical sciences) observably have nonphysical factors like: a spirituality which can be moved and lifted by beauty (natural and humanmade); and have unique (in the animal world) nonphysical notions of shame, dignity, ethics, virtues, right and wrong, irony, existential humour – to mention a few.
And when we explored the paranormal world we found more evidence of a “D” Divine.
PARANORMAL EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
The experiencers of, and researchers into, various paranormal phenomena – who we allowed as evidential, because they passed our stated criteria – not only reported communication with recently deceased spiritual entities on the next plane of reality which apparently awaits our consciousness’ departure from this reality, but also encountered higher (more spiritually evolved) beings from even higher planes of reality to come – who spoke assuredly of a God/Divine which awaits all who achieve ultimate spiritual evolution. Such God was said to be beyond the present understanding of us, and of any of our religions – it was also said, on more than one occasion, that there is no one true religion or set of beliefs which open the gates of heaven/realities which await (only openable by our spiritual evolution). Some of those who have returned to us after experiencing real NDE’s (“real” as opposed to epilepsy, anaesthetic trips, ketamine hallucinations, etc.) also reported that there is no one, true religion or beliefs (some who were originally religious returned more spiritual but less religious from their experience).
However, while the existence of a “G” God was implied by both normal and paranormal evidence on our expedition for Truth, what was revealed about the nature of any God?
THE NATURE OF GOD?
Should we even try to know what is most likely ineffable? Probably a futile ambition – but perhaps humanity needs to at least try to more nearly approach the nature of God than we have managed so far? Why? Because too many of our Houses of Gods’ various speculations about the nature of God have led to the many evils which have flowed from religion over the centuries (Crusades, the Inquisition, burning heretics at the stake) and still flows today (jihads, suicide bombers, the oppression of the Palestinians, etc.).
So, here goes.
We will start with paranormal evidence about the nature of God.
THE NATURE OF GOD FROM PARANORMAL EVIDENCE
This about the nature of God received through the mediumship of Rev. William Stainton Moses. Stainton Moses (1839 – 1892) – a M.A. graduate from Oxford and a Minister of the Church of England who developed mediumistic abilities later in life. The book, below, was a record of his communications with a highly evolved spirit from the higher planes of the next realities – written by him via the paranormal process of automatic writing:
“You have framed for yourselves a God whose acts accord with your own instincts. You have fabled that He sits on high, careless of His creatures, and jealous only of His own power and honour. You have fabricated a monster who delights to harm, and kill, and torture; a God who rejoices in inflicting punishment bitter, unending, unmitigable. You have imagined such a God, and have put into His mouth words which He never knew, and laws which His loving heart would disown…Base and foolish fancy, produced of man’s cruel heart, of man’s rude and undeveloped mind.”
Rather – the nature of God is more truly:
“…a God of tenderness and pity and love, instead of a fabled creation of harshness, cruelty, and passion.”
“Spirit Teachings”, William Stainton Moses, Pp. 19 & 20.
Other evidence from paranormal sources told the same story about the nature of God.
What evidence is available about the nature of God from religion?
THE NATURE OF GOD ACCORDING TO RELIGION?
Our ancient ancestors first derived their speculations about the Divine and its powers from observations of the powers and forces of nature. Such powers and forces were observably greater than ours, thus obviously from a source greater than us – a god. Thus they devised sun gods, sea gods, fire gods, thunder gods, etc.. Religion was then devised as a method of controlling these greater powers for our survival – in this world, and into any next worlds. In this it is totally Darwinian. The nature of these gods was human and/or animal – control was by fawning worship, sacrifices (even human), etc.
In time, monotheisms arose in a few places to corral the multiplicity of often competing gods – into a single, all-powerful god. To be able to influence, even control, such a god gave its controllers (various religious officers: medicine men, high priests, prophets, etc.) great powers.
Religious officers not only devised our gods, but the nature of these ancient gods – and such nature was shaped by the interests of priestly power. To that end, the nature of ancient gods was usually to be human and male – thus having all the exploitable weaknesses of a male king/leader – for example: vanity (thus responding to praise); insecurity (thus needing worship); jealousy (no worshipping of other priests’ gods allowed); parochialism (a chosen tribe – others lesser god’s peoples could be killed or enslaved). Dictated by vested interest, religions’ gods were typically awful, punishing gods on the one hand (to instil fear) and loving, paradise-offering gods on the other hand (to reward the faithful) – basically the common carrot-and-stick routine which, as all power-seekers know, works best with humans. The Abrahamic god of the Old Testament and the Qur’an was a classic of this type.
What have our sciences resolved about the nature of God?
PHYSICAL SCIENCE AND THE NATURE OF GOD?
Certain of our physical sciences (e.g. physics, cosmology) claim to understand enough of the universe to be able to comfortably assert that the physical universe just emerged accidentally – out of a state of nothing. Other of our physical sciences (e.g. chemistry, biology, neuroscience) claim to know enough about life and our bodies to be able to comfortably assert that life was also just accidental (happening spontaneously, chemically) and our bodies just due to the mechanical selection by nature of those randomly occurring mutations best suited to survival. All up, they conclude we can be fully and satisfactorily described as accidental matter, spontaneously alive, then mechanically evolved – thus no God is needed – the “nature of God” according to our sciences, then: is that God is merely a product of our wishful thinking.
So, considering all the evidence from sources religious, scientific, normal, and paranormal – what is our expedition’s speculation about the nature of God?
OUR EXPEDITION’S SPECULATIONS ON THE DIVINE
Our expedition found that the human condition was to be way more than our physical matter and energy – there are many nonphysical factors in the human equation and trying to explain the totality of us in physical terms is like trying to describe a book in terms of its paper – you can do it but you will fall way short of a complete description.
Further, our exploration found that there are critical mysteries remaining between our sciences and a total understanding and explanation of even the physical world – like: the quantum enigma; the presence of dark matter and energy; the nature of gravity; how the necessarily sterile, inorganic chemistry of the billion degree big bang became organic chemistry; the origins of DNA and RNA through random mutations; how random mutations to DNA evolved such complexity so quickly. And our physical sciences are even more out of their depth when trying to explain the mysteries of the nonphysical world, like: our spiritual selves (that which is not of atoms but can be sensed/experienced when being lifted, moved – by the nonphysical, like beauty, for example); how we, supposedly just chemically alive atoms can have nonphysical consciousness; how nonphysical things (like humour, dignity, shame, a sense of right and wrong, certain altruisms, etc.) can exist, in the first place, in a world entirely made of atoms and energy – to be “naturally” selected, in the second place.
“In the beginning” it seems that there was an event which most are calling the “big bang” (or similar: “big inflation, big expansion” etc.) – which event was basically energy becoming matter – and the beginning of everything material which now exists. So, if there is any Divine/Creator God, it is logical to presume that such must have existed before that big bang.
But a physicist would say: “there can be no before the big bang because time, itself, began at the big bang”. However, physicists also tell us that, under the proven laws of thermodynamics, energy cannot be created nor destroyed. So, if the big bang was energy becoming/converting into matter, then energy must have existed before the big bang. And if there was no time before the big bang, and energy must always exist – it is an eternal absolute – contingent on nothing. These are the prime characteristics we also ascribe to God. So, perhaps we are talking about “E” Energy here – the original Absolute/Energy which transmuted into matter – being God (or of God at the very least)?
If so, God, or some part of Energy/God became the universe – as opposed to the religious notion that God created the universe. In this way, we – and everything in this “U” Universe – are of God. The following comes to mind (to quote one of the better parts of the Bible):
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40 – King James Version).
Further, in Essay 3, when we examined the mystery that is consciousness, we found that our personal consciousness is what we try to describe when we use the words “soul, self, spirit”. And we also concluded that our personal consciousness seems to be an individuation of something larger – a universal consciousness – in Professor David Fontana’s words: “…an ocean of pure unitary consciousness of which each individual consciousness is an expression”. So, if our physical body is of the original Energy/Matter, and our soul/consciousness is part of a universal “C” Consciousness, the implications are that we are of God – body and soul/self.
All up, our exploration’s conclusion is that the closest you will come to God, on this Earth, is life itself – especially another human. This has huge implications for how we treat each other (killers of others in the name of God please note) – and all lifeforms.
And also leads to another thought about the implications if such is the Truth.
Given we are of the original energy, and given we have consciousness – maybe we and all living things are how the original energy source (what we try to approach when we use the word “God”) experiences the universe? Meaning, the senses of our bodies are how the original energy source/God physically experiences this universe. And our soul/self/consciousness is how God experiences the nonphysical/spiritual side of the universe – like beauty in all its forms (natural and human-made). This from one of Neal Donald Walsch’s conversations with God:
“ ‘... what I am seeking is to know Myself experientially. I am doing this through you, and through everything else that exists.’ ”
“Conversations With God”, Neale Donald Walsch – Book 3, P.11
While I don’t know whether to place Walsch in the paranormal (his extraordinary books are claimed to be received by the paranormal method of automatic writing) or the New Age (which seems to best describe much of his personal philosophy) his books lead to plenty of mind-opening, non-religious new ideas about what a real God could be. Walsch aside, certainly our own investigations of the human condition found that the human condition is to be a body + self/spiritual duality – experiencing the universe both sensually: touching, tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing – and spiritually: the self (not the body) being “lifted”, “moved” by the experience of beauty. Meaning we could rationally and credibly be one of the ways that any original energy/God experiences our part of the Universe – body and soul. And, lest we lapse into anthropocentrism, the latter part of the quote from Walsch, above, should also be noted: “and through everything else that exists” – the nature of God is everything, not just us. Again: “as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” comes to mind.
So that’s about as far as our exploration towards Truth has been able to go towards the “Nature of God”. While it is ultimate vanity to imagine that our minds – born of, and only experienced of, the relative – can fully understand the Absolute/God, certainly the above is more towards the Truth of the nature of God than the complete denial of any Divine or of any “first cause” (of a cause-and-effect universe!?) that is promulgated by philosophers tending our physical sciences. And more towards any likely God than the psychopathic “B” Brute of the Bible – who not only aided the murder of the original inhabitants of the promised land but spent an inordinate amount of time persecuting his own supposedly “chosen people” for worshipping other gods and/or not worshipping “him” frequently enough – and/or correctly (usually involving the sacrificial killing and burning of lots of animals).
And what does our exploration for Truth conclude of those other things, the existence and nature of which traditionally vex humanity, things accepted as existing if a Divine exists – namely: Divine judgement; immaculate justice; hell; heaven? We’ll take the last, first.
Our various Houses of God disagree on most things – in accordance with their varying Books and the needs of their priests – including the nature of heaven. There is the Christian heaven with hymn-singing choirs of angels where all the redeemed sit around rapturously gazing on the face of God while waiting for the resurrection of the dead and a New Earth after Judgement Day. Or the Islamic garden of Eden watered by running streams, the believers wearing fine clothes and jewelry while resting upon soft couches eating eternal fruit – the righteous to be given “high-bosomed maidens for companions” and/or be wed to “dark-eyed houris”. Or there is the temporary Buddhist heaven, where believers reside in a paradise until they use up their Karma – then reincarnate (possibly even as an animal) – until some manage to get off the reincarnation merry-go-round by being perfect enough to attain Nirvana.
The denizens of the House of Disbelief, on the other hand, conclude that there cannot be any heaven. Their evidence, apart from the incredibility of religious heavens, being the (partial) understandings that our physical sciences have of our physical world – “partial” because, as the essays discovered, giant mysteries remain. With such incomplete understanding of this reality, it is amazing that the House of Disbelief can be so dogmatic about its denial of the existence of any other realities – especially given the huge amounts of dark matter/energy which surrounds and/or envelopes us (95% of the stuff of the universe – which could well be the stuff of other realities – heavenly or hellish?).
Paranormal/anomalous phenomena also offered evidence of realities beyond this Earthly one – some of which resembled most people’s expectations of heaven: a place of great beauty and overarching love where we are reunited with those we loved who have “gone before”. Further, credible researchers found evidence that the next reality was comprised of ascending planes of even greater and greater heavenly beauty – through which planes of existence our self/consciousness can continue to spiritually evolve towards an eventual reunion with the Absolute/Divine Energy from which we came – “in the beginning”. The higher planes are described as being of a beauty beyond our present comprehension – beauties which communicators from the higher planes find hard to convey to us on our basic Earthly plane because there are no entirely suitable Earthly words (the source, perhaps, of Plato’s archetypes of beauty – which underwrite our spiritual understanding and appreciation of beauty?). Some communicators from the next reality talk of music whose beauty is too exquisite for us to tolerate at our present, relatively Earth-lowly level of spiritual evolution. The Heaven-like reality described by is also not the religious place/reality of eternal rest – but one which continues to offer spiritual evolution for continuing endeavours – usually in the form of service to others. Some reportedly serving humanity by choosing to return to Earth – a reality more challenging and offering the particular spiritual growth (away from selfishness?) they may need. While the next reality is more spiritual, it is, like ours – of energy and matter – but differently vibrating. We, our self, reportedly having an etheric body which is recognisably “us”, and shining with the spiritual energy/evolution we have attained from life experience. There is a wonderful overall feeling of love and understanding and safety: “the most delightful sense of safety, so that after the first orientations, there is no fear at all” (from William James, 19-20th century philosopher – communicating through medium Jane Roberts).
The nature of hell, most of our Houses of God can more closely agree on – usually a place involving lots of fire and brimstone. For their image of such they rely for evidence on their incredible ancient “B” Books – and on the rabid imaginings of various religious officers, for whom the concept of hell is essential to maintain their power over people through fear. “Hell” is their stick – as “heaven” is their carrot.
Of course, the House of Disbelief must necessarily deny hell. Again its evidence is the incredibility of our Houses of Gods’ evidence and our sciences’ (claimedly) full understanding of “everything” – all must be matter and energy (because that is all it knows).
Evidence from the paranormal, on the other hand, found that, while there is no traditional religious hell, there is a reality which has similarities with a religious purgatory – a place of dimness without beauty – inhabited by unevolved beings tending to gather in groups of like-unevolved souls: the selfish with selfish; the violent with violent; murderers with murderers (no “high-bosomed maidens” in sight for suicide bombers). The only way out of such a dim purgatory is not the lighting of candles and prayers of others back on Earth (as some Houses of God have it), but a genuine repentance and a desire to move towards the light and love which are the hallmarks of those belonging to higher realities. While there is no eternal damnation, forgiveness has to be earned – not only through repentance, but by helping others in their spiritually unevolved soul group to advance as well. Love and help from higher, more spiritually evolved souls, is said to be always available for those who request it, and who honestly want to climb out of the grim reality in which they find themselves. Progress to the higher realities is available to all, but necessarily involves a past life review – in which we experience all we have caused others to experience during our past life – the good and the bad – the joys and pleasures with the sadnesses and pain.
Anyone who feels that the purgatory described above is a tame justice and punishment (compared to the traditional religious hell) should consider this – from researcher into the paranormal, Professor Stafford Betty – a description sent through a medium of the purgatorial experience of a selfish, jealous, loveless soul coming to know her self, through experiencing that which she caused others to experience – all the mental torments, soulful hurts, jealousy and heartbreak:
“Take me, tear me, or destroy me. Drown my reason past all hope of restitution or, by one tornadic blast of torture, put an end to feeling and terminate this agony. Hell! Hell! In mercy take pity on my condition; open your gates and let me bathe my sufferings in your fiery lake. Hell! Hell! I say, in mercy open and let me in.”
“Heaven and Hell Unveiled”, P. 62, Stafford Betty.
Such a past-life review/experience as this illustrates that, while there is no eternal fire and brimstone – coming to truly know our self through past life reviews can be truly hellish for some. And it speaks of Divinely correct judgement and immaculately fair justice.
DIVINE JUDGEMENT AND IMMACULATE JUSTICE?
Communicators from the next reality confirm, as a universal Truth, the House of God’s tenet that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 6:7). Such is immaculate justice – and truly “D” Divine in its wisdom and simplicity: that which you give you shall get.
And given the suffering of the above unevolved soul (who “only” made the lives of a few, painful) defies contemplation of the suffering which the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot (and various other past brutal and oppressive leaders) must experience. This is surely something also that those who are presently in power over others in this life should carefully consider.
For a world leader there are elements of Pascal’s uneven wager here: the consequence of there being no Divine and no Divine justice are the same as they are for all of us – eternal nothing; but the consequences for a world leader of the communications from the next realities being the Truth is – almost eternal torment. For any leader of humanity the wager is not worth taking.
Such is also similar to Faust’s pact with the devil – betting your eternal soul against a brief life of power and privilege on this Earth-reality is not a good idea.
The wisdom of the ancient dictum to “Know Thyself” is obvious, and the sooner we each manage it on Earth, the better for our selves (two words) – because coming to know our self only eventually, and only through the experiences we caused others – could be beyond hellish.
So, from paranormal sources, that’s basically about it – whatever you do to/for others on Earth, you end up doing to/for your self.
FROM PARANORMAL AND NORMAL SOURCES?
From all sources – life is an opportunity – for many things.
Things material and temporary: power, money, stuff, fame, status – and things spiritual and eternal: to be, know and grow – our self.
Your choice is free, and it will define you – your self, not your body.
But there is always an elephant in the living room of any philosophy of meaning: “WHY?” It may be observable that our life in this relative reality is an opportunity to be, know, and grow our self – but why? This is commonly called the “Mind of God” question (and probably best avoided if you only have a mind of man). The most sensible answer to such Why? questions is: “this is just how it is” – and we could stop there in our search for purpose and meaning because we have found that “just how it is”, is purposeful and meaningful. However, we accepted Buddha’s injunction to not only start along the road to Truth, but to go all the way along it – thus we are committed to have a go at philosophy’s ultimate question.
WHY? – THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM
Physics says that there is/can be no “Why?” – everything, the universe(s) and eventually life, just happened accidentally from a state of nothing. But our exploration found that there are many nonphysical mysteries that this purely material approach can’t answer (and a few physical ones as well).
We also found that there is evidence of an overarching intelligence – a “G” God if you like – in this finely co-ordinated universe written in an intelligent language. But just accepting the likely existence of a God is not a definitive answer to the Why? question – it just creates another elephantine question: why is any such God doing this?
Some religious folk feel they have an ideal cop-out to this question: God, to be God, is necessarily ineffable to the human mind – therefore “God works in mysterious ways”. Other religious folk impute human motives to their god: “He” is churning out souls to worship him (as my religious studies teacher assured me at school). Or He creates souls, then tests them on Earth to see if they are worthy of keeping him company in heaven for eternity. Or other similar human motivation/reason.
But, having found both the House of God’s and the House of Disbelief’s speculations concerning the Divine, incredible – we will attempt to approach closer to a credible WHY? speculation of the universe. We will attempt this by looking closely at the “WHAT” of the universe – what this universe truly does – because, rationally, the purpose of anything is what it does. And a purpose can be meaningful.
WHY? FROM THE WHAT!
So, what does this relative reality/universe do?
As we noted above, what relativity does is creativity – because it allows the existence of things relatively good, better, best – which, in turn allows selection for best. Nature selects for changes which best allow adaption to environment and survival (natural selection) – a process we call evolution.
In this way, relativity is creative – therefore meaningful (in terms of what is created). Whereas the alternative (absolute reality) is …errr…absolute – everything immutable, unchangeable – thus necessarily uncreative. If everything just is and cannot change/evolve – it has no ultimate purpose other than to exist, therefore is devoid of any special meaning – under our definitions.
So the “Why?” of this relative universe is to create – because that is what it, most assuredly, does.
But elephants still abound – Why were we created?
Let’s apply the “what” test again – if the purpose of anything is what it does – what do we do?
One thing we do is create – we are creative agents of the universe.
In an effort to establish the why of us, we need to consider what we create?
The essays established that there are animal/physical and spiritual/nonphysical factors in the human equation. Accordingly, we create things animal/physical and spiritual/nonphysical. For example, we create animal/physical things for our bodily, animal survival: tools, utilities, buildings, cities, foods, environments, medicines, sciences. Such creativity is credibly explicable as having been naturally selected – allowing adaption to environment and survival – Darwinian, therefore arguably devoid of any special meaning. But our more mysterious creativity is of things spiritual/nonphysical – things only, or mainly – of beauty. For example, things just for our spiritual enjoyment and growth: music, art, literature, dance, decorative architecture, etc. – things which have no other purpose than to “lift”, “inspire”, “move” our soul/self/spirit. Things which, as we saw in Essay 3, meet our spiritual needs – which we often meet before, or even at the expense of – our bodily needs and genetic imperatives – which only nourish, evolve our spiritual self.
So, some of what we do seems more deeply meaningful than our Darwinian, utilitarian, naturally-selected creations – we nourish/satisfy, create/evolve our spiritual selves.
But it doesn’t stop the cascading WHY? questions – why self creation/evolution?
WHY SELF CREATION?
Why does life allow us the opportunity to create/grow/evolve our self – what’s the point?
Most of the answers to the above WHY? questions come from reason applied to Earthly evidence, but to find any answer the ultimate “WHY? question: “Why self creation” – we need to turn to some evidence from paranormal research.
We have been advised by several communicators from the next realities which await us after this one, that our self is eternal – and further, that not only do we survive into said realities, but we continue our spiritual growth/evolution through higher and higher (and more and more beautiful) planes of existence – eventually and inevitably to reunite with the Divine energy from which we originally came “in the beginning”. In such ultimate Union (reunion?) with the Divine/Universal Consciousness we come to the apogee of our spiritual evolution to exist, like time lords – beyond the relativities of time and space – able to experience all of the creativity and creations of the physical universe: the formation of Earth, the beginning of life, the formation of continents, the evolution of species. And also able to experience all of the experiences of Earth’s animal creatures through their consciousness – anything, anywhere, anytime – what it is like to fly like an eagle; swim like a porpoise; run like a gazelle. And also able to experience all of the experiences of humanity – any event in time and space – all of human history and every human sensual and spiritual experience: what it was like to sing the great operatic arias; rock the great concerts; create the great art; fly a fighter jet; to perform in the great orchestras; ride a rocket to the moon; dance the great dances; pen the great poems; win the grand prix; score the winning try in the World Cup; win an Olympic gold medal; drive the great cars; drink the great wines; eat at the great tables; make love with the great lovers (even know what it was like to make love to yourself)……
Golly! Got a bit carried away there?
But not according to this paranormal communication from Dr. F.W.H. Myers (died 1901), member of the Society for Psychical Research and Cambridge don – communicated through the mediumship of Geraldine Cummins, concerning the seventh and final plane of our spiritual evolution – the “the true reality” which is the eventual reunion with the Supreme Mind/Consciousness of God:
“… various souls [our individual selves] are now fused and pass into the Supreme Mind, the imagination of God, wherein resides the conception of the Whole, of universe after universe, of all states of existence, of past, present, and future, of all that has been and all that shall be. Herein is continuous and complete consciousness, the true reality.” (P. 6)
“So you are aware of every second in time, you are aware of the whole history of the earth from Alpha to Omega. Equally all planetary existence is yours. Everything created… you know and hold…the whole of life, the past, the future, all that is, all that shall be forever and forever.” (P. 40)
“The Road to Immortality”, Geraldine Cummins.
There is some non-paranormal research from quantum physics concerning the mystery of universal connectedness/entanglement which implies a universal consciousness.
However, for some, all of the above raises another WHY? question: if the eventual planes/realities are so fantastic – why should we continue with our present physical body, in a frequently too hard life situation in this often barbaric reality – why not move on to the next, better life or reality?
WHY SHOULD WE CONTINUE TO EXIST HERE?
As stated in the Introduction, there are a growing numbers of suicides as more and more of us find ourselves drowning in a sea of meaninglessness. For many, life in this reality seems too hard, too unfair – making suicide (and sometimes even suicide bombing) look comparably attractive. Are we, by considering paranormal evidence that we: 1.) have many lives in this reality; 2.) eventually have existences in more beautiful, peaceful, and loving realities encouraging thoughts of suicide amongst those who are struggling – to escape a present unpleasant reality for another, better existence?
No. One of the things paranormal evidence is definite about, is that suicide, while not leading to hell (as most religious traditions hold) leads to spiritual stasis, most often needing another life on Earth in order to advance our self-truncated spiritual evolution. There is consensus from paranormal communicators that, while the challenges of Earth existence are not the only way towards self growth – they are the surest way to “Know Thyself” – which, as discussed, is the crucial key to self/spiritual growth. We might as well face our current Earthly challenges and take the opportunities they present to know and grow our self – and the opportunity that such struggle presents for growth into higher realities?
Suicide in the face of dire illness, from several reports, is a different matter.
THAT’S ABOUT AS FAR AS WE CAN GO
That’s about it, folks – about as far as we can go.
This philosophy of meaning was spurred by a challenge and obeyed two injunctions. The challenge being the one from Faulkner which we considered at the Introduction: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”; and the injunctions were Buddha’s – to: 1.) start upon the road to truth and 2.) go all the way along it.
So we took the courage to swim beyond sight of our current shores which bound the sea of meaninglessness in which too many of humanity are presently floundering – towards new horizons hosting a road to “T” Truth. We then obeyed Buddha’s injunctions by starting upon this road and by attempting to go all the way along it.
How did we go? Did we succeed – did we arrive at the Truth of the human condition, and thereby discover life’s meaning and purpose – beyond reasonable doubt?
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT?
I think it fair to say that, beyond reasonable doubt, we have discovered that there is more credible evidence for ultimate purpose to our universe and special meaning to our existence in it – than there is credible evidence against such.
As for what said ultimate purpose and special meaning is, we found: 1.) that our universe’s ultimate purpose is its creativity because, observably that is what it ultimately does; and 2.) such creativity allows our existence in it to have special meaning according to what we create (especially what we make of life’s opportunity to create/grow our self). However, there remains sufficient mystery and room for doubt that such meaning and purpose cannot be known beyond reasonable doubt.
And this is how a meaningful life should be – if there was no mystery in life, if the purpose to our existence was obvious and provable, then life would not work as immaculately as it presently does. This from Professor Fontana (referring to Professor William James’ take on this point):
“William James may have been right when he lamented that it rather looks as if the Almighty had decreed that this area should forever retain its mystery. If this is indeed the case, then I assume it is because the Almighty has decreed that the personal search for meaning and purpose in life and in death are of more value than having meaning and purpose handed down as certainties from others. If the certainties of life and death were so well known that they appeared in every school textbook, there would no longer be scope for the personal search, and for the inner development that may be possible only as a product of such a search.”
David Fontana “Is There an Afterlife”, P. 327
If life had no mysteries for each of us to decide on personally; if we had no choices to make because our path was clearly laid out and inevitable – life would be just a tour through a theme park – pleasant enough, but essentially meaningless. Whereas, how it presently is, life is rich in ultimate creative purpose – which ultimate purpose gives it special meaning. In this current reality in which we exist, nothing is laid out, life demands constant decisions of us – and our decisions define us; we become our choices. And there is no proof that we must have only one life – for our nonphysical, spiritual selves to exist with a physical, animal body once is only proof that such can happen – hardly proof that it must never happen again. In this way life is not the one-off test for eternal heaven or hell, so beloved of religions, but an ongoing opportunity through many lives – to “Know Thyself” through the evidence that is our choices. When we succeed in coming to this self knowledge, life then presents its biggest opportunity – if we are not happy with our self, truly known through our choices, then life is an opportunity to make higher choices: to “Grow Thyself” – spiritual evolution. But nothing is set in concrete, life, in its immaculate way, asks you to decide for your self (two words) – literally.
And we discovered on our journey along the road to Truth that we are driven to this self/spiritual evolution by the unique human need to be happy, and the most reliable way to be lastingly happy is to be happy with/able to love our selves – “reliable” because it always works; “lastingly” because our self is the only source of happiness totally within our control (unlike power, money, beauty, fame) and the self is eternal. We also considered that, because we are our own harshest judges, the surest evidence we allow that we are worthy of our own love is when others love us; and that such love from others is best attained through loving them. To be happiest we should love one another (sound a bit familiar?)
Even if the rest of this philosophy of meaning is wrong, the holy grail of philosophy has always been seen to discover “how to best live” – and surely, to be happiest is to best live?
Graeme Meakin – last revised 4th December, 2018.