THREE ESSAYS ON THE MEANING OF LIFE
“Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.”
– Winston Churchill.
So, “what is the meaning of life”? – the question most commonly asked of philosophy.
When asked this question, most people, even most academic philosophers, proffer personal meanings like: love; family; friendships; vocation; religion; community; tribe; country; art; music; compassion; beauty; health; hobbies; sport; romance etc. – in other words things which can allow our lives some moments of meaningful purpose. But the more pressing existential question for humanity at this time in our history where our technological evolution exceeds our spiritual evolution (leaving us in the precarious position of having atom bombs but primitive religions and/or nihilistic materialist philosophies) is rather: does our existence in this reality have any ultimate purpose which allows our lives special meaning – the realisation of which could advance our spiritual evolution to meet our technological evolution (and enhance the chances of our survival as a species)?
Our working definitions were: “ultimate” purpose – purpose above and beyond the survival and genetic purposes of our animal bodies; “special” meaning – meaning that life extends to all of us, above and beyond our personal meanings.
In an effort to answer this question, in three essays we examined the House of God; the House of Disbelief; then explored outside of our “H” Houses – Along the Road to Truth.
To summarise our findings for this conclusion:
Essay 1: “An Examination of the House of God” explored religion for Truth within our Houses of God, most particularly the Christian House of God – with which we were most familiar. Our working definition for “T” Truth being: that which is true for everybody all the time – above and beyond the personal “t” truths we all have/construct. Our exploration found that while said Christian House of God contained some “T” Truths, it was largely an unsound place to dwell because its Biblical foundations were unreliable.
The Christian House of God is a religion of a “B” Book – being built upon the Holy Bible. “Holy” because said Book is supposedly written/inspired by God, however our examination found much that was observably untrue – its Old Testament containing: false cosmology; incorrect biology; unreliable history; and an unbelievable, male, brutal, ethnic-cleansing, jealous, needy, sexist, and parochial “g” god of the ancient Hebrew tribes who invented “Him”. Said god was not only a product of the pre-scientific, brutal time in which he was invented – but a complete dud – spectacularly unsuccessful in protecting his supposedly “chosen” Hebrew people who were repeatedly defeated and subjugated by the followers of other gods: Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Turks – eventually to be dispersed from their “promised” land into an always insecure, and frequently cruel, Diaspora.
The New Testament of the Holy Bible was also found to be unreliable – the Gospels, supposedly entirely the “Gospel Truth” about Jesus’ life, words, and actions, while containing some observable Truths (mainly in certain words credited to Jesus) were found to contain many dubious and incredible “t” truths – and, not a few, downright untruths. The Gospels are contradictory in many places, such disagreements were seemingly driven by the differing proselytization needs of the competing factions which arose among Jesus’ followers after his death (e.g. the Jewish, Gentile, and Gnostic movements). In the New Testament, beyond the Gospels, the “Revelation to John” was found to be the dyspeptic, sexist ravings of someone who was unwell, and the “The Acts of the Apostles” and various “Letters” (by Paul and others) were found to be full of doctrinising about Jesus, not by Jesus. The end result of which doctrinising, and the copious volumes written later by the Fathers of the growing Christian House of God, was that the simple, essential, and observably capital “T” Truths which Jesus brought to us: Love even your enemies; Forgive rather than seek revenge; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (all of which pretty much fits on one line) were diluted – sometimes totally obscured – in devout bumph. Such obscuration of Jesus’ Truths, contradictions, and the inclusion of the Old Testament in the Christian Bible (as all these writings were to become in the fifth century A.D.) – led to, not only many different interpretations and disagreeing denominations, but to much evil in the name of Jesus (heresy trials resulting in stonings and burnings; Inquisitions; inter-denominational religious warfare; murderous crusades; bigotry, etc.). Such religious evil, committed over the centuries in the name of a “g” god, have led many to doubt that there is any “G” God.
But there were, and are, also many good people in the Christian House of God – who managed to receive his message of love, forgiveness, and doing good unto others. Such truly Christian people over the years have contributed much to their societies in the way of charities for the needy, hospitals for the sick, overseas famine relief, schools for the working classes, the founding of our major universities – and, just as importantly – an ethical framework which has underpinned the civilisation, morality, ethics (and hegemony) of the West. Many Western humanitarian successes – like the abolition of slavery, labour reform, political liberty from despotism, and many of the individual rights and freedoms that we in the West now take for granted – were either initiated or strongly supported by the Christian House of God.
However, our exploration of the Christian House of God, observed that it is steadily emptying. If said House 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 in many countries, it needs to move away from its Iron Age god, its incredible dogma, and its ancient doctrines (e.g. Salvation, Trinity, Original Sin, Virgin Birth, etc.). Such doctrines and carrot-and-stick god (equal parts loving and punishing) were put in place by the early Church fathers to compete with the established gods and religions of the Mediterranean region but, given the advancements in education and the explosion of scientific knowledge since the Enlightenment, it is time to dig the real Jesus – man and message – out from under all the religious overburden of “t” truths with which his “T” Truths have been obscured. Our examination of the House of God attempted just that, uncovering a man who was a brave and spiritual human person – who tried to reform his religion (“You have heard it said…but I say unto you…) and for this he was killed: by religion – not by “the Jews”, or the Romans (specifically he was killed by his religion’s high priests in an effort to protect their power from his radical ideas and actions.) Nor was he God’s only Son sent to die for our Salvation – a doctrine which tells us that humanity wallows in the Original “Sin” of being born human – but Jesus was a human who bravely preached about Love and Forgiveness in a brutal time. All of which should make us proud of being of the same species and inspire us that it is possible to imitate him.
Of the big message – which underpinned the successful growth of the Christian House of God from minor religion to world dominance: Resurrection – we found that, despite all the disagreeing stories in the Bible about Jesus’ reappearance to his disciples after his death, we can know that Jesus’ disciples definitely experienced a paranormal phenomenon involving Jesus. A phenomenon sufficiently convincing to turn his cowed and doubting disciples into brave believers – prepared now to die for him rather than deny him (as they had previously done to save their skins). That this is the “T” Truth – not just another Biblical story/allegory/metaphor – is attested to by the fact that the religion which these transformed men (and the women who always stayed true to Jesus) formed in his name endures to this day against all the brutal odds against them succeeding. Jesus’ resurrection (and the observable Truth of his core message to Love, Forgive, and Do unto others) is why we are still talking about a humble tradesman from the backblocks of Israel two millennia after his death.
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 our bodies – “we” are just our physical bodies. Further, these bodies are merely spontaneously, chemically enlivened atoms – of an accidental universe – which atoms/matter then mechanically evolved into us by nature blindly selecting between random mutations for those best adapted to survival. To imagine that our existence can have special meaning or ultimate purpose is ultimate vanity – any meaning to our life can only be personal; any purposes of our existence must be the animal purposes of our selfish genes. As for any God – such 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 (upon which pillars sits the House of Disbelief’s roof of meaninglessness). Unsound “pillars” like: materialism; scientism; determinism; reductionism; physicalism; nihilism; existentialism; neuroscientism; behaviourism; natural selectionism; Neo-Darwinism; Freudianism; atheism; relativism; postmodernism; the problem of evil.
While the House of Disbelief likes to think that all the above pillars are made sound by our physical sciences’ almost complete understanding of our physical bodies, our examination found that our physical sciences had no understanding of the nonphysical factors in the human equation – factors like consciousness, humour, dignity, shame, our understanding of naturally right and wrong, the existence of our spiritual self (and said self’s understanding of, and need to experience, non-Darwinian beauty). Physical science’s only explanation for the observable existence of such nonphysical factors in the human equation is their “sonic screwdriver”: able to fix everything – natural selection – without having the first clue about how (in a supposedly entirely physical universe) the above 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. All up, our examination found that our physical sciences’ attempt to describe humanity in terms of its matter is like trying to describe a book in terms of its paper – you can do it – but such description is vitally incomplete.
Our examination also found that the supposedly compelling arguments that the House of Disbelief uses against the existence of any “G” God are, rather, just sound refutations of the unsound arguments that the House of God employs for the existence of its primitive “g” god. The only thing concrete about the House of Disbelief is this rubble it has made of the House of God’s god – but you need more than a pile of rubble from an unsound structure, to build a sound one in its place. Similarly, the House of Disbelief feels that to demolish the House of God’s purpose and meaning of life (that life is a one-off test for eternal heaven or hell) – is to soundly refute the existence of any and all ultimate purpose and special meaning of our existence.
All up, the House of Disbelief was found to be just as much about comfort for its own residents, as it accuses the House of God being for its residents. Thus comfortable in its disbelief, the House of Disbelief makes no effort to hunt for, and dispose of, 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 slaying the vulnerable, slow-moving sacred cows (incredible gods and meanings/purposes) of religion.
Essay 3: “Along the Road to Truth” set out to explore along life’s winding road for “T” Truth – outside of our “H” Houses, which we found to be concerned with protecting comforting “t” truths rather than searching for any Truth there may be to our existence. Again, our working definition of Truth is that which is true for everybody, all the time (beyond our personal “t” truths – which may, or may not, be the Truth).
Although I am not a Buddhist (nor, I like to think, an anything-elseist) 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 definitely tried to go all the way – by exploring 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 (and there must always be something because energy cannot be created nor destroyed); the incredible unlikeliness of life (the organic from the inorganic product of a necessarily sterile, billion-degree beginning); the existence of the essential forces and the delicate ratios between them – all such existing way beyond the likelihood of chance; the intelligent mathematical language the universe was written in (we know that it is intelligent because we, an intelligence, can speak it); the essential role of consciousness in the existence of matter. And “miracles” of the human condition, like the fact that we (supposedly just atoms chemically alive) – can: speak the aforementioned mathematical language in which the universe was written; possess nonphysical factors like virtues, shame, ethics, humour; can understand the beauty of non-Darwinian form, music, and art; and have (are?) a nonphysical self; the pivotal role of our being able to love that self to our happiness; that we have consciousness; have spiritual needs the satisfying of which “lifts”, “moves” us (i.e. not our atoms) and 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, our exploration 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 beyond the heaven-gaining hell-avoiding 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?
After Churchill’s opening quote – out of the “intense complexities” that are the above questions – the following “intense simplicities” emerge:
The purpose of anything is what it does, and our relative reality does creativity. Relativity “does” creativity by allowing the existence of relatively good, better, best – which allows creation through selection for best – evolution. Nature creates our bodies by selecting for relatively best genetic mutations and 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 can only rest in what it creates. Nature is creative, creating orderly physical things which, under the law of entropy, must return to disorder – thus things which are ultimately meaningless (for example, bodies). We are also creative, also creating essentially meaningless physical things – but creating, as well, things nonphysical (beauty, joy, humour) – the most ultimately meaningful of which is our selves, because 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’s great opportunity is to be our true self; to truly know our self; then to grow our self (until we are happy with our self) – self creation. This is a spiritual opportunity – not a physical force – to which opportunity we are driven by humanity’s unnatural need to be happy. “Unnatural” because only humans strive to be happy – all other animals just strive to “be”.
We can get passing animal contentment/happiness from our bodily senses (“passing” because all tickle is no tickle; we have to be hungry to get happiness from eating; thirsty to get happiness from drinking.) Only happiness with self can be lasting being the only source of happiness totally within our control. Any happiness from fame, power, status, money, beauty is in the hands of others, time, and good luck.
Love is the key to our happiness with self. We must be able to truly love our truly known self. The strongest evidence we allow that we are worthy of our own love – is if others love us (our self/soul – not our bodily beauty, power, fame, talent, money etc.). True love from others is only ever achieved by truly 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 says nothing about the existence, or not, of any real God. While the full nature of the Absolute must remain ineffable to our minds born and only experienced of the relative, intimations of a wordless “D” Divine are often received during life – for example, when we (our selves, not our bodies) are “moved”, “lifted” by beauty in any of its forms.
The everything of this universe is its creativity.
CREATIVITY – THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Creativity is, observably, what our universe does. Given that the purpose of anything is what it does, creativity is the purpose of this universe.
And our existence in it also allows us to create – we are, each of us, observably, creative agents of the universe – creativity is one of the things we do, thus one of our purposes. We create many things in the course of a full life. We create an existence for ourselves and family/group – food and other physical things for the temporary survival of our physical animal body – and children for the further temporary survival of our physical genes. But, potentially, most meaningful thing we can create is the growth/evolution of our nonphysical, thus eternal, selves.
It seems incredible that this should be a purpose of this unimaginably huge universe – for us to create/evolve our self? But that is observably what our life/self’s existence in this universe does – and the purpose of anything is what it does. The universe does a whole lot of other physical things, of course, but nothing is more important for us (our self/souls – not our animal bodies) and to any special meaning the existence of our self in this universe has – than our self/spiritual growth/evolution. Where such selves/souls/spirits come from, to inhabit a physical/material universe, is one of life’s great mysteries (individuations of a Universal Consciousness, perhaps?) but, as we saw in the essays, there is no doubt that there is such a nonphysical/spiritual “self” factor in our human equation – observable, for example, when we (not our physical atoms) are spiritually “lifted”; “touched”; “moved” by things nonphysical – like the beauty of art and nature, a gracious act, bravery in man or beast, love from a stranger.
And our selves (two words) are revealed by the nonphysical things we create: love/hate; comfort/fear; laughter/sadness; happiness/sorrow; beauty/ugly; right/wrong; grace/disgrace; joy/pain – and more. Thereby we reveal our self to be known – by others, but most importantly by our self. “Know Thyself” is ultimate wisdom because it allows us to take life’s ultimate opportunity – to grow our self – until we are happy with who we are/have become.
But this universe only allows our spiritual evolution – such is not inevitable – spiritual evolution is only an opportunity, not a law. As we saw in Essay3 our self/spiritual evolution involves, firstly, the taking of the opportunity of being our true self; secondly it involves taking the opportunity that being true to our selves offers us to come to know our self truly; only then does it offer the ultimate opportunity of growing our self – driven by the human need for happiness – only truly and lastingly available when we are happy with/able to love who we are/have become (the strongest evidence we allow that we are worthy of our own love is when others love us). While most take life’s initial opportunity to be their self, not everyone takes life’s next opportunity to “Know Thyself” – and, of those that do, not everyone chooses life’s final opportunity to grow their self. In the course of a life we will all meet many unevolved (and/or un-evolving) souls, and many evolved and/or evolving souls (occasionally even angelic souls – but most seem somewhere in-between).
As we saw in Essay 3, our spiritual evolution of self determines any lasting happiness we might achieve (our self being not only the most convincing source of happiness, but the only source totally within our control). Which happiness, alone, is enough for many – but there is also evidence that our self is eternal and can evolve into higher and higher realities beyond this one – to experience ecstatic happiness beyond our Earthly imaginings.
While there is much evidence that the above conclusions are credible – is it the Truth?
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 say that we have failed to find the Truth because there can be no such “T” Truth – only our personal “t” truths can exist in an entirely physical, material universe which just “happened” to come accidentally into existence – out of 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 said House only exists courtesy of two key paranormal events: the reappearance of Jesus after his bodily death, and Paul’s paranormal epiphany on the road to Damascus. It is understandable that the House of Disbelief, on the other hand, must shun everything paranormal – founded, as it is, upon our physical sciences’ understanding of the “normal” physical world – to admit the existence and/or validity of things that are neither physical nor that our physical sciences cannot “normally” explain, is to undermine their claim to know everything (or to be on the very verge of a physical Theory of Everything).
However, is it true to say that this philosophy of meaning actually depends on paranormal evidence?
DOES THIS PHILOSOPHY DEPEND ON THE PARANORMAL?
As we saw in Essay 3, four of the main tenets of this philosophy are not deduced from paranormal phenomena but are based on evidence from observation of our universe and normal life experience – i.e.: 1.) that this reality is observably purposive, and that purpose is creativity – because that is what it does, and what it does is meaningful; 2.) that we are our nonphysical self rather than our physical body; 3.) that life is observably an opportunity to be, know, and grow said self; 4.) that lasting human happiness depends upon us taking life’s opportunity and coming to love our (truly known) self.
These four tenets, alone, can support a strong and rational argument for our self/spiritual evolution being the ultimate purpose to our existence. But such an argument is well met, in the minds of most people, by the House of Disbelief’s argument from the philosophical “Problem of Evil” (basically: that some lives are too short and/or handicapped to allow self realisation and self growth/evolution – therefore, because we have only one life, life is necessarily meaningless). But this argument for meaninglessness is seriously weakened if we have many lives – not just one – multiple lives wherein we all experience many life situations from which we can truly learn all about our selves (two words) and have the opportunity to grow from those various experiences of our self.
For many people, the idea that we may have several lives is uncertain because spooky, paranormal (i.e. not like normal experiences) but they haven’t considered how spooky is our “normal” experience – of our spiritual self being with a physical animal body even once. As above, Voltaire put it well: “It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.”
But our “H” Houses must strongly oppose the idea of many lives – because it undermines them. The House of God’s meaning of life (that life is a once-off test for a subsequent post-mortem eternity in heaven or hell) is threatened, along with is its power over us (based on its ability to help us attain heaven and avoid hell at the end of this one life). And, as we have seen above, the House of Disbelief’s main pillar (the Problem of Evil) is also damaged if we have multiple lives. So it is that both of our Houses attack the idea of many lives – and having no evidence against such, they dismiss it as “paranormal” – relying on the taint brought by using that very word. Such taint comes from the many fraudulent commercial practitioners/entertainers which inhabit the paranormal field – however, the evidence for us having many lives that our exploration for Truth relied upon, did not come from paranormal showmen – entertainers/performers – but from academic and medical research (e.g. Professors Stevenson, Tucker, Fontana and Doctors Weiss and Wambach). Likewise, NDE’s – another area of the supposedly “paranormal” – has been extensively researched by medical doctors. Again, it is those on whom we relied during our exploration for the Truth of the human condition.
However, there is no doubt that there are many fraudulent operators/entertainers in the paranormal field which has left the whole area in disrepute. So why did we risk the credibility of our exploration by considering evidence from the paranormal, at all – especially some of the other, more way-out paranormal evidence (like communication and channelling through mediums, for example)?
ENTERING THE PARANORMAL
These essays are an exercise in exploratory philosophy, spurred on by Faulkner’s challenge issued at the Introduction to these essays (“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”). It was in this spirit that we took the courage to swim beyond sight of our present philosophical/religious shores (one shore being of the land dominated by the House of God – the other, the House of Disbelief) neither of which offered any safe landing to those swimming in the ever-widening sea of meaninglessness in which too many presently find themselves floundering.
Our courage took us to a land of “new horizons” to explore – only one of which horizons was the territory of the paranormal. We had no previous, personal experience of the paranormal but found some reliable guides to enter therein – remaining always awake to, and wary of, the dangers. We considered such worth taking because numinous/spiritual and/or paranormal/anomalous phenomena are part of the human condition – and as such had to be explored if we were to discover the full Truth of the human condition. All up, it was thus that we ended up exploring the paranormal (perhaps “the anomalous” is a better word because “the paranormal” carries a lot of wooo-wooo baggage – generated by those who exploit its thrilling/scary aspects – usually entertainers, frauds, and other general mercenary exploiters not interested in any Truths there might be). However we stuck with the word paranormal to avoid confusion.
Essay 3 considered the reasons for, and risks of, entering the paranormal at length, 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 in the Introduction for those who felt they were in danger of drowning).
RISKS OF THE PARANORMAL
There definitely are dangers (both personal and to our expedition’s credibility) in exploring around the region of the road to Truth running through the paranormal. “Personal” dangers in that some of the paranormal’s denizens are mentally unhinged (but the same could be said for the more fundamentalist denizens of both the House of God and the House of Disbelief) – and dangers “to our expedition’s credibility” brought about by disinformation and misinformation resulting from downright fraudulence and/or honest 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.
NARROWING THE RISKS
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. 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, 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.).
And the potential rewards are worth the risks.
REWARD FOR RISKS?
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 in another reality (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 to be explored in 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 one single white crow?
ONE WHITE CROW?
Our expedition found, in fact, several “white crows” – credible evidence from already successful, qualified and respected, academic professionals – in various 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 Professor Ian Stevenson, Professor 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 – researchers 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 American, Societies for Psychical Research. These are all highly qualified and credentialed researchers – not a stage performer nor fraudulent trickster in sight.
And what were the main paranormal findings from these researchers?
MAIN PARANORMAL FINDINGS
All up, Essay 3 found that the above listed researchers confirmed each other on the following key findings – which have important implications about the Truth of the human condition:
1.) that our spiritual self/consciousness exists separate to the brain/mind of our physical body;
2.) which self survives the death of our animal body;
3.) that our self can have multiple lives on Earth (or similar realities);
4.) the purpose of which is our evolution/growth into the higher, ascending realities which exist beyond this one;
5.) that our spiritual growth/evolution continues on these higher and higher planes of existence;
6.) to an eventual union with universal consciousness (God?).
All of which is like a red rag to a bull for fundamentalists – both materialist and religious.
Religious fundamentalists oppose the above information, not because it has been derived from paranormal evidence (the evidence upon which they rely is also paranormal) but because it is not in their ancient “B” Books – the source of their carrot (eternity in heaven) and stick (eternity in hell) power over people. Evidence that we can have many lives is also damaging to their power over people – they need people to believe we must only have one life, and that they have to power to help us determine a good result/avoid a bad result – for eternity.
Materialist fundamentalists oppose the above because they hold that we are entirely matter/energy – just atoms from an accidental big bang; which matter became spontaneously and chemically alive; then mechanically evolved into us by nature blindly selecting from random mutations. Simple – everything must be physical because they are physical scientists who believe that they are on the verge of a physical Theory of everything – “Physics can explain everything.” (Stephen Hawking). But maybe not so “simple”. While materialist scientists (and their materialist philosopher handmaidens) may presently hold the academic battlefield, there is an increasing amount of normal/orthodox (i.e. not paranormal) scientific work being done (by brave souls) on psychic phenomena like NDE’s, psi and other “mystical” phenomena. And 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 consider the implications of quantum mechanics further, below, but for here – we need to consider that, according to Professor Beauregard, scientific materialists declare certain phenomena anomalous because they cling to “false assumptions”. Is this fair to say or do they have solid disproof of anything paranormal – disproof beyond just their understanding of the physical world and their fundamentalist dogma that all is fundamentally matter and energy and everything can be explained in those terms?
SCEPTICS’ DISPROOF OF THE PARANORMAL?
Essay 3 examined the evidence usually put forward by “S” Sceptics as disproof of paranormal phenomena, and found that there are six arguments upon which they commonly 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 from reputable mediums is demonstrably 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 (maybe 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 see confirmation of comforting beliefs (like the survival of loved ones) in the flimsy of evidence. While most of those who seek and get comfort out of the paranormal are those who have been recently bereaved, much information from the paranormal is also attractive to the rest of us as well – for example: our self/soul/consciousness survival of bodily death; the existence of higher and more beautiful realities beyond this, our present, often flawed one. However, we considered the risks of such inner deception much reduced by our mindfulness of it.
And 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 dismiss it by uncovering the necessary fraud which must exist – and they find the proof of fraud in any slightest, theoretical possibility that such could exist. Sceptics analysis of the remarkable Scole séances being a good example of disconfirmation bias (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.
BUT 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 his 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” (Myers’ communications are collated in Professor Stafford Betty’s book: “The Afterlife Unveiled” – Pp. 49-60).
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 accidentally.
· We came to speak that intelligent mathematical language even though it is not necessary to survive – no other animal (on Earth) 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 through random physical changes (in the form of accidental mutations) to its physical matter – then nature selecting for which mutations allowed the lifeform to adapt best to its environment and survive. However, some of these physical changes somehow 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, that lifeform often exhibits such a strong need to be so lifted, moved – that it overpowers its naturally-selected drive to survive (risking its body, with its cargo of selfish genes, to experience beauty).
· 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).
While the above must remain a mystery to those who attempt to understand all about us through our physical sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology – there are also mysteries of our purely physical universe which also remain a mystery to them – 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 realities? Communicators from such next realities which apparently await us after bodily death report that our self’s astral body is still of matter/energy (although less dense and of different vibration) – as are the worlds/planes/realities to come. These are reportedly of massive size and existing in/around/adjacent the universe. A good account of the physics of the next realities are to be found in “The Afterlife Unveiled” by Professor Stafford Betty – a credible, academically qualified, definitely non-fraudulent researcher into paranormal phenomena.
Science in the form of quantum mechanics is lending credence to the possibility of realities beyond this physical reality – and that we may inhabit them:
A REALITY BEYOND PHYSICAL REALITY – QUANTUM MECHANICS
“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 – God/Energy from which the universe came?.
Together, the implications of quantum physics, and the known presence of vast amounts dark matter and energy – form evidence for the existence of realities beyond this one – just as much as our known presence of “undark” 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 – in comparison? To restate the above conclusion of four of our leading physicists:
“The world is not as real as we think” (Rosenblum & Kuttner, ibid P. 9).
SO HOW STANDS THE PARANORMAL AS EVIDENCE?
Personally, as leader of this expedition for “T” Truth, while there is much in the world of the paranormal which is poor evidence of anything but the gullibility of many people – the result of personal fantasy and/or a cynical attempt to make money out of humanity’s deepest fears (death) and exploit our fondest wishes (eternal life and reunion with loved ones) – I can’t accept that highly qualified researchers of the calibre of Professors: David Fontana; Ian Stevenson; Jim Tucker; Stafford Betty – and medical Doctors of the calibre of Brian Weiss; Sam Parnia; Kenneth Ring; Pim van Lommel – are fraudulent, incompetent, or could have been fooled by fraudulent tricksters.
The experience of a lifetime has taught me that The House of God, the House of Disbelief, and the paranormal – all contain both “T” Truths (true for everybody all the time) – and “t” truths (personal truths, comforts, and wishes). Which is which is up to us – and our choices define us – in life’s immaculate process of self definition, self knowing, and self growing/evolution/creation. We decide for our self (literally).
RECONSIDERING THE WORDS “NORMAL” & “PARANORMAL”
If we are after the “T” Truth – rather than trying to win an argument for our personal, comforting “t” truths – it seems that, after the discoveries of quantum physics, we need to reconsider what exactly is paranormal, and what is normal? 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.”
So, again, “anomalous”: deviating from what is expected – is probably the better word than paranormal, which word, as we considered above, carries too much woooo-oooo baggage for many to take the subject seriously. Such woooo-oooo atmosphere surrounding the subject has been built up by TV networks to scare and thrill audiences – and thus encourage viewing. Which baggage, those who need to dismiss all “paranormal” evidence for personal comfort reasons, play on.
So, what are the philosophical implications of the paranormal/anomalous evidence from academically qualified and experienced researchers who our exploration considered as credible?
THE PHILOSOPHICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE 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 its position as academia’s default philosophy 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 (evidence indicates that 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 well describe the human condition – there are observably two factors in the human equation.
And, considering both normal and paranormal/anomalous evidence, what does our exploration for Truth conclude about the existence and nature of God?
THE EXISTENCE OF GOD?
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 see evidence of a higher agency at play – a “G” God if you like. And, of course, any such “D” Divine 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 such. 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 the “D” Divine – firstly in the non-chaos of the universe resulting from an 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 Godless and 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. And, of course, there is our already discussed understanding, and appreciation of, non-Darwinian beauty (i.e. art, music, poetry etc. – not strong shoulders, big breasts, etc.) – which beauty can raise to Divine heights – and lift, move, some spiritual/nonphysical part of us.
“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 the recently departed, but also encountered higher (more spiritually evolved) beings from the higher planes of reality to come. Such 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 the realities which await (such are said to be 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, was anything revealed about the nature of any God?
THE NATURE OF GOD?
Should we even try to know the nature of what is most likely ineffable?
While, occasionally/usually after numinous experiences, we may get a spiritual understanding of the existence of a Divine (whatever its nature), we are not likely to be able to have a complete intellectual knowledge of the nature of such Absolute/God with a mind born of, and only experienced of, the relative. That said, however, a good argument can be made that we should at least try to more nearly approach the nature of God than both the House of God and the House of Disbelief have managed so far – our various Houses of Gods’ speculations about the nature of God have led to the many evils which have flowed from religion (Crusades, the Inquisition, burning/stoning heretics, murderous jihads, inter-denominational wars, suicide bombers, the oppression of the Palestinians, etc.). And our House of Disbelief’s speculations of the non-possibility of any agency higher than blind chance – based on our physical sciences’ partial understanding of the physical world – has led many into not only nihilistic meaninglessness, but ultimately, murderous behaviours the equal of any religion (consider the atheistic foundations of Nazism and Communism).
Also, we are under Buddha’s injunction to go all the way along the road to Truth.
So we will review what our examinations of the House of God, the House of Disbelief, and our journey along the Road to Truth revealed about the likely nature of a real “G” God.
THE NATURE OF GOD ACCORDING TO THE HOUSE OF GOD?
Our ancient ancestors first derived their speculations about the Divine 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 – or gods. Thus they devised sun gods, sea gods, fire gods, thunder gods, rain gods, etc. – to explain the existence and power of such forces – and then devised religions to worship such mighty forces as a method of controlling these greater powers for our survival in this world – and also for some control over our fate in any next worlds. It didn’t take long to notice that this supposed power/control over gods/nature, also entailed power over people – giving the gods’ controllers/handlers (various religious officers: medicine men, high priests, prophets, etc.) great powers in their societies – a divine power made easier to corral with the advent of monotheism. Thus religion was/is mainly Darwinian: about power, control, survival – rather than about seeking any spiritual Truths. And the nature of these devised gods was human (mostly male) – thus having all the exploitable weaknesses of humanity – and control of them was similar to the tactics you would employ to influence any human king/leader. For example, exploitable human characteristics like: vanity (thus needing/responding to fawning praise and worship); jealousy (no worshipping of other priests’ gods allowed); parochialism (a favoured/chosen people – who could kill or enslave the people of other, lesser gods without divine punishment in the hereafter – e.g. the Abrahamic god); having various material needs (met by gifts and animal/food sacrifices).
Dictated by the vested power interests of priests, the nature of our religions’ gods were/are typically both awful (punishing gods – to instil fear) and loving (paradise-offering gods – to reward the faithful). Basically this was/still is the common religious carrot-and-stick routine which, as all power peddlers know, works best to control humans. The nature of the Abrahamic god of the Bible and the Qur’an was/is a classic of this type.
All that said – Jesus (also a major prophet of Islam) had a different message about the nature of God – Love. Jesus main task, as he saw it, was to change our primitive ideas about the awful and bloody nature of God derived from our ancient Scriptures – “You have heard it said….but I say unto you….”. His message about the Divine nature was of the Divine’s primacy of love and forgiveness – rather than fear and revenge.
And evidence from credible researchers into paranormal phenomena also has Jesus’ message about the nature of God. The following is about the nature of God as received from the spirit world by Rev. William Stainton Moses – written down directly by him while under trance by the paranormal process known as automatic writing. Deceased 1892, Stainton Moses was an M.A. graduate from Oxford and a Minister of the Church of England who developed mediumistic abilities later in his life.
“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, as received by Stainton Moses, 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 the paranormal sources we explored told a similar story about the True nature of God.
What does our House of Disbelief feel it has proved about the nature of God?
THE HOUSE OF DISBELIEF 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 within this accidental universe was also just accidental (happening spontaneously, chemically) – and that we are just our bodies – which, in turn, are just the mechanical product of nature selecting from randomly occurring mutations in our bodies for those which are most advantageous for our survival. All up, our physical sciences’ consensus is that 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: NONEXISTENT. God just is a product of religion – which is merely a naturally selected behaviour of the human animal – like all our other behaviours.
So what speculation about the nature of God did our expedition along the road to Truth arrive at?
OUR EXPEDITION’S SPECULATIONS ON THE DIVINE?
Our expedition found many indications of the existence of a “D” Divine in the various mysteries and miracles in our Universe – and in our existence within it. We arrived at our speculation on the nature of God from a consideration of these mysteries and miracles – the biggest of which is the very existence of something, rather than nothing.
“In the beginning” 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 – 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 been the Absolute/singularity which became the relative/plurality that is individual matter. Which relativity allows this and that; here and there; now and then (time being distance – how long it takes to get from here to there) – and you and me.
Given energy/matter cannot be created, energy must always exist – energy is an eternal absolute – contingent on nothing. These are the prime characteristics of what we try to describe when we use the word “God”. So, perhaps we are talking about “E” Energy here – and the “B” Big Bang – the original Absolute Energy transmuting into matter was God (or of God at the very least)? And we are talking about God (or at least some part of God/eternal Energy) becoming the universe – as opposed to the religious notion of God creating the universe. In this way, we – and everything in this “U” Universe are of God – matter/energy from the original Energy. The nature of God is unity with the Universe – not only physical unity but, 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 from evidence 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. Again – Matthew (25:40): “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
So, all up, our exploration’s conclusion is that the closest you will come to God, on this Earth, is another human. This has huge implications for how we treat each other – killers of individuations of “G” God in the name of their “g” god (more truly in the name of their priests’ power) – please note.
So that’s about as far as our exploration along the road to 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 ineffable/Absolute/God, certainly the above is more towards the Truth of God than our physical sciences’ (and their materialist philosopher handmaidens’) complete denial of any Divine manages (they also manage to deny any “first cause” of an observably cause-and-effect universe!?) And more towards the nature of any likely God than the psychopathic nature of the Abrahamic “B” Brute in 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” correctly (usually involving the sacrificial killing and burning of lots of animals).
And what does our exploration for Truth conclude of those other things, usually associated with the existence of a Divine – namely: heaven, hell, judgement, and justice?
Firstly, we considered the conclusions of our various Houses of God. While we found that they agree there is a heaven, they disagree on its nature. There is the Christian heaven with hymn-singing choirs of angels which entertain the “redeemed”, sitting around rapturously gazing on the face of God – while waiting for the resurrection of the dead and a New Earth to populate after Judgement Day. Or there is the Islamic garden of Eden watered by running streams, where believers get to wear fine clothes and jewelry while resting upon soft couches, eating eternal fruit – the righteous men dwelling “in gardens and vineyards, and high-bosomed maidens for companions” (Qur’an 78:31) and/or drink wine on jeweled couches and be given virginal “dark-eyed houris” (Qur’an 56:12-39). Or there is the temporary Buddhist heaven, where believers reside in a paradise until they use up all their good Karma and then have to reincarnate on Earth (possibly even as an animal) – until eventually they 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 reality other than this one – heavenly or hellish. Their evidence for this conclusion, apart from the incredibility of religious heavens and hells, being the (partial) understandings that our physical sciences have of our physical world – “partial” because giant mysteries remain (gravity; dark matter and energy; the consciousness of matter; quantum enigma; quantum entanglement – anyone?). 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 hints of unknown dimensions and 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?).
Outside of our Houses, some who have experienced real NDE’s (i.e. have actually died – not just experienced anesthetic or drug-induced hallucinations, epileptic fits, anoxia, etc.) and several credible researchers into other paranormal phenomena, have received information of realities beyond this Earthly one resembling common expectations of heaven: a perpetual “Summerland” – a place of great beauty, joy, and security – and of overarching love where we are reunited with loved-ones who have predeceased us. Such beautiful next reality is not an end destination – as per religious traditions – but just the first of ascending planes/realities of greater and greater heavenly beauty and love through which we can continue to work towards a final spiritual evolution/reunion with the Absolute/Divine Energy from which we came “in the beginning”. These higher planes are described as being of a beauty beyond our present experience – 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 – some have communicated of music whose beauty is too exquisite for us to tolerate at our present, relatively lowly Earth-level of spiritual evolution. The heaven-like reality described, is also not the religious place of eternal rest, but one which offers spiritual evolution for continuing endeavour – usually in the form of service to others (still on Earth, or those who may be initially struggling to come to terms with their new existence) – even, sometimes, serving humanity by returning to Earth life. While the next reality is more spiritual, reportedly we are still of energy and matter, differently vibrating but having an etheric body which is recognisably “us” – shining with the spiritual energy/evolution we have attained from life experience. Many who, while on Earth, strongly disbelieved in anything beyond Earth’s “reality” struggle to come to terms with what is happening to them in the next reality, and need help of others in their reported “soul group” to orientate – but eventually the wonderful overall feeling of love, and safety: “the most delightful sense of safety, so that after the first orientations, there is no fear at all” (as received from William James, 19-20th century philosopher – communicating through medium Jane Roberts).
Most of our Houses of God can more closely agree on the nature of hell, than they can agree on the nature of heaven – usually believing hell to be a place involving lots of fire and brimstone. Hell is an essential construct for all our Houses of God – a tool to maintain their power over people through fear – “hell” is their stick, as “heaven” is their carrot. Their evidence for hell is based entirely on their Books – and is as credible as those books.
On the other hand, the House of Disbelief must necessarily deny hell – for the same reasons that it must deny heaven. For the House of Disbelief, founded as it is – on the understandings of our physical sciences about matter and energy – hell cannot exist. The matter of this physical world is all that can exist because that is all our physical sciences can see, touch, weigh, measure – understand.
Disagreeing with both, evidence from paranormal research indicates that, while there is no traditional religious hell of physical pain and suffering, there is another reality beyond this one which has similarities with a religious purgatory – a place of dimness without beauty, inhabited by unevolved souls/beings whose life/lives on Earth has revealed them to be selfish, violent, greedy, inhumane, unloving – spiritually unevolved. The lowest, darkest corners of this dismal plane being the abode of those who committed the greatest sins – in the company of similar others: the violent with the violent; murderers with murderers (no “high-bosomed maidens” in sight for suicide bombers). Called the “Lower Astral” level by some communicators, such lower plane of existence is, however, not eternal – only “locked” from the inside. Souls can move on from here – towards the higher, lighter planes of love and beauty – but a genuine repentance and desire to evolve spiritually is needed. And forgiveness has to be earned – not only through repentance, but by helping others up as well. Love and help from higher, more spiritually evolved souls, is said to be always available for those in these dismal realities who request it – and who honestly want to climb out of the grim reality in which they find themselves (basically the company of fellow unevolved souls). And progress to the higher realities of the afterlife is said to, necessarily, involve a past life review – in which we experience all we have caused others to experience during our past life, good and bad – all the love, joys and pleasures; and all the fears, sadness, and pain.
But the next reality, while unpleasant for some – is not about revenge and punishment – but all about understanding of self, and what is necessary for self/spiritual growth/evolution. Professor David Fontana, in his meta-analysis of the most credible communicators, and of the various methods of communication with the afterlife – summarises:
“I can find no mention by communicators of eternal damnation. They speak instead of redemption when the soul has suffered in the Lower Astral – and repented by living through it oneself – the pain it has visited upon others. There is no sense in which this is intended as punishment or revenge, simply a necessary part of spiritual growth.”
“Is There An Afterlife?”, David Fontana, P. 464
So, the next reality after our Earthly one is about spiritual growth and redemption? What about Divine Judgement and Justice – for which so many of us hunger?
DIVINE JUDGEMENT AND JUSTICE?
Many religious people shun the paranormal because it denies their traditional judgmental God – who is ever ready to fling people into an eternal Hell, presided over by an eternally-torturing Devil. Many religious people give the impression that they are religious because they want Hell to be true (for evil others) – just as much as they desire a Heaven for themselves. And all religions have a vested interest in promulgating ideas of Judgement and Justice from an infallible God – necessary not only to build up their congregations – but to maintain their power over such. But are such the Truth?
While according to paranormal evidence the next reality seems to be mainly about redemption and spiritual growth, there is evidence that the cornerstone of our paranormal experience to come – the past-life review – can be pretty torrid for some. Evidence from paranormal sources supports a key tenet of the Christian House of God – well expressed by St. Paul: “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Letters of Paul – Galatians 6:7). From paranormal evidence, it seems that the function of the life review in the next reality is pretty much the actual “reaping as we have sown” – that is to say, experiencing everything good and bad that we have made/caused others to experience. This from researcher into the paranormal, Professor Stafford Betty – of the past-life review experience of a selfish, jealous, loveless soul who took pleasure in torturing the feelings of others in life – a review in which she felt all the mental torments, soulful hurts, jealousy and heartbreak which she caused others to experience in life:
“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.
For her, the “fiery lake” of traditional hell was preferable to experiencing the mental torture she caused others to suffer in life. And if the above soul suffered such agonies, what must the suffering of the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. be like? The contemplation of such should surely give pause to many of our present leaders responsible for the lives/experiences of millions – not only those who have reportedly already caused pain and suffering to many others (e.g. Kim Jong-un; Bashar al-Assad), but to those who have power to potentially do so in the future (e.g. Trump; Putin; Xi Jinping). Holding national and/or world power involves not only great responsibility, but entails great personal/spiritual risk – carrying the worst elements of Pascal’s wager and Faust’s pact (with the devil) – risking a potentially long and horrendous fate in the next reality experiencing all the suffering you have caused others, in exchange for a brief and definitely passing life of power and privilege on this Earth-reality. A dangerously lop-sided deal.
GOD, HEAVEN, HELL, JUDGEMENT, JUSTICE – A SUMMARY
Our exploration for Truth found that the evidence from the paranormal concerning the existence of heaven, hell, judgement, and Divine Justice (and their nature) was more substantial and credible than the evidence presented by our incredible ancient religions in their disagreeing “B” Books. Likewise, we found it more compelling than our House of Disbelief’s evidence against there being any God, heaven or hell – which we found to be, basically, no evidence at all – just believing that this physical reality is all there can be because it is all our physical sciences can detect/measure/understand.
However, evidence from research into paranormal phenomena is entirely dependent on the quality of the researchers. From the evidence of researchers whom we regarded as non-fraudulent, well-qualified, and experienced – heaven and hell is the one place – where we finally come to experience our self through experiencing what we caused others to experience in life. Heaven, hell, immaculate judgement and justice all in one, really. Thus paranormal evidence brings home the wisdom of the ancient dictum “Know Thyself” (inscribed over the doorway into the ancient Greek temple at Delphi and found in similar wording in other civilisations) – best to make an honest effort to truly know your self in this life – while you can do something about it. We don’t need the paranormal to see and know that life invariably peels us like an onion, layer at a time, to reveal our true self. We may be able to hide that self from others – but, ultimately, not from our self. However, it’s up to us to take the opportunity to come to truly know that self – we had no choice in the evolution of our bodies (which nature blindly does) – but we can choose spiritual/self evolution: potentially life’s grandest opportunity.
So much for our speculations on the nature of God, Heaven, Hell, Judgement, and Divine Justice. But now we come to the big one – the elephant in the living room of any philosophy of meaning – WHY?
Our exploration for any ultimate purpose to our universe and any special meaning to our existence in it – has found both in creativity. Having found such, our expedition for ultimate purpose and special meaning could stop there.
Wisely, it probably should stop there – however, again, this expedition has also accepted Buddha’s injunction to not only start upon the road to Truth, but to go all the way along it. So we are bound to tackle the “WHY?” question (or questions).
To get closer to the WHY? of us, let’s consider the WHAT? of us. Perhaps the biggest “WHAT?” of us is our mysterious consciousness.
As we saw in Essay 3, consciousness is a mystery to Philosophy: “Possibly the most challenging and pervasive problem in the whole of philosophy. Our own consciousness seems to be the most basic fact confronting us, yet it is almost impossible to say what consciousness is.” (Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, 1996). And it is a mystery to Psychology: “Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomena; it is impossible to specify what it is, what it does or why it evolved. Nothing worth reading has been written about it.” (International Dictionary of Psychology, 1989).
And the existence of our consciousness is beyond mysterious to our physical sciences – to them, that anything which they regard as purely physical matter/energy (us) should have a nonphysical property like consciousness – seems to be akin a category error.
So, let’s look at the WHAT? of consciousness. “What” our consciousness does is allow us to experience the universe. As we have seen, the purpose of anything is what it does – thus the purpose of consciousness is to experience – it allows those who have it to experience the universe: thrills and spills; good, bad, and ugly.
Fine, but WHY do we have it?
We did not make the universe – so it’s no use asking us. So let’s ask 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”, P. 11 (Book 3), Neal Donald Walsch
While Walsch’s work more truly resembles New Age rather than paranormal and, while his books contain much that rings “T” True, he doesn’t exactly fit the template we struck to assess the researchers we relied on into things metaphysical. So we’ll run it through the things we have discovered on our exploration.
“In the beginning” there was energy; uncreatable and indestructible – eternal – pretty much what we try to describe when we use the word “God”. Some of that energy became matter/energy at the Big Bang – and some of that eventually became us. So we are of the original Energy/God, as is everything about us – including our consciousness – through which the original Energy/God experiences the universe: physically through our bodily senses; spiritually through how its beauty moves our nonphysical selves (also necessarily of Energy/God).
And, lest we lapse into anthropocentrism, the latter part of the above quote from Walsch should also be noted : “…and through everything else that exists” – God is the original Energy which became Matter – thus is everything that proceeded from it, not just us. To quote one of the good 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.”
A WHY? of us (and all life) – from a WHAT? of us – is to be conscious of/experience the universe.
What else do we do?
As our exploration has discovered, we create – we are a creative agent of the universe. According to our talents, some of us create things of great beauty. Some of us create things of great utility. But all of us create our selves by our choices – we become our choices – potentially our greatest creation: our eternal self.
WHY SELF CREATION?
So another large WHAT? of our existence is self evolution – life observably allows us self creation/growth/evolution – and, also observably, some humans have taken life’s opportunity to create/grow/evolve their self. But WHY? – what’s the point?
We saw in Essay 2, the House of Disbelief says that there can be no “point” – while it may be observable that some people manage self/spiritual growth during their one and only existence on Earth – but then they’re dead! How can there be any possible “special meaning” in that?
This claimed rebuttal of ultimate purpose and special meaning, of course, depends on: 1.) believing that we/us are just matter/atoms; 2.) us having just one life on this reality; 3.) there being no realities beyond this one. Under these beliefs, when our body dies our atoms return to the earth and we are gone forever. But we found in Essay 3: 1.) that to describe the human condition just in terms of our atoms is like trying to describe a book just in terms of its paper – you can do it, but you get an incomplete and unsatisfactory description because there are observably nonphysical, spiritual factors in the human equation; 2.) that we have many lives in this reality; 3.) credible evidence of other realities.
Indubitably, when our physical body dies its matter/atoms returns to the material Earth, but our nonphysical self/energy is not of atoms – so to where the self after death? Any answer to the WHY? of self creation must rest with any existence of the self after it is released from the physical body at death.
TO WHERE THE SELF AFTER DEATH?
According to the House of God, after death the self/soul goes to heaven or hell. For them, our one and only life is all about the testing of our souls to determine our suitability for eternal heaven or hell – and because we have only one life, we need to join/obey our House of God to ensure a good outcome for us in eternity. However, as we considered in Essay 2, the paucity of such religious understanding of the meaning of life is well revealed by the philosophical “Problem of Evil”: if we only have one life then some existences are reduced to meaninglessness – by, for example, deaths in childhood, by severe illnesses – i.e. the uneven playing field that is life, and its often lack of equal opportunity to have our souls “tested” fairly.
However, Essay 3’s exploration into the paranormal, guided by credible, experienced, academically qualified researchers found evidence that: our self is eternal, that we – or self – has many lives; that there are higher realities into which our spiritual self survives; and that we can continue our spiritual growth/evolution through these higher and higher (and more and more beautiful) planes of existence to eventually reunite with the Divine energy from which we originally came “in the beginning”. In such ultimate spiritual evolution into/with Universal Consciousness we can experience any individual human or animal consciousness at any moment or place in time and space (like Time Lords?) – and know what it is like to fly like an eagle; swim like a porpoise; run like a cheetah; to witness all of human history; to experience every human experience; to know what it was like to be any person and experience every human sensual moment.
Golly! Got a bit carried away there?
But not according to the following paranormal communication from Dr. F.W.H. Myers (died 1901) – member of the Society for Psychical Research, Cambridge don and author of “Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death”. This communicated through the mediumship of Geraldine Cummins – concerning the seventh and final plane of our spiritual evolution – “the true reality” (in Myer’s words) which is our 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...
“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.”
“The Road to Immortality”, Pp. 6 & 40, Geraldine Cummins.
“Universe after universe”? There is some non-paranormal evidence from quantum mechanics/physics which implies a multiverse – as well as universal connectedness/entanglement which has implications of 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, too 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 look comparably attractive. Are we, by seriously considering paranormal evidence that we – 1.) have many lives, in many different situations; 2.) after death pass into more beautiful, peaceful, and loving realities where we are reunited with all those we have loved – encouraging thoughts of suicide amongst those who are presently struggling in this reality, as a way of escaping into a better existence?
Many who attempt suicide do not believe in any afterlife; reportedly seeking, rather, escape into the relief of nothingness – the “big sleep” – as promised by materialism (whose mantra is that we are just our material bodies and our consciousness is extinguished by bodily death). Further, one of the things paranormal evidence is definite about is that suicide, while not leading to hell (as most religious traditions hold) does not necessarily lead the self into evolving/belonging in the next, more heaven-like, realities – reportedly most often leading to another potentially challenging existence on Earth (or other Earth-like planets) – which realities are the surest way to know and grow our self. Thus it is communicated that suicide just about always leads to another life on Earth in order to advance our (self-truncated) spiritual evolution (free choice apparently always pertains – self evolution must, necessarily, be chosen, it cannot be successfully forced on any). All up, the evidence from the paranormal is that 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. Professor Stafford Betty, in his review of communications from the “other side” concludes:
“Suicides do not end up in an eternal hell. But they do not resolve their problems either.”
“The Afterlife Unveiled”, P. 109
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 grew out of an observation, and was spurred by a challenge, and obeyed two injunctions. The observation was that too many of humanity, especially in the West, were floundering in a sea of meaninglessness between two hostile shores. The challenge was that issued by Faulkner: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”. And the injunctions were those of Buddha – to: 1.) start upon the road to truth and; 2.) go all the way along it.
So we gathered the courage to swim beyond sight of our current hopeless shores, one hosting the House of God and the other the House of Disbelief, in search of new horizons – of a land which may offer “a road to Truth”. Discovering such a land, we set out upon the road to Truth it offered – thus meeting Buddha’s first injunction – and with the intention of meeting his other by going 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 special meaning and ultimate purpose – beyond reasonable doubt?
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT?
Beyond reasonable doubt, I think it fair to say, our exploration for life’s ultimate purpose and special meaning discovered more credible evidence for the existence of such – than credible evidence against. Again, our working definitions being: “ultimate” purpose – purpose above and beyond the survival and genetic purposes of our animal bodies; “special” meaning – meaning that all our lives allow, above and beyond our personal meanings.
As to what these are, we concluded that our ultimate purpose is to create – because the purpose of anything is what it does – and create is what we ultimately do. We create many things good, bad, and ugly – according to our unequal talents: things of great beauty, utility, and consequence – and humble things of precious little. But life offers to us all, equally, one opportunity to create a great and consequential thing – that being the opportunity to create/grow/evolve our self – which creativity, we concluded, allows our life special meaning.
Some, whose life has been obscenely hard (sufferers of life’s unfairness and misery in all its forms: death of children; illness and/or severe handicaps; victims of violence…) may find this conclusion about our existence Panglossian, at best – obscene, at worst. But the above conclusion is where the evidence (life itself) led our expedition for meaning. My life has been a mixture both of privilege and obscene hardship, but (looking back) I see the hardship was more productive of self growth – and the privilege most destructive of it. Fine, but, what of those to whom life offered no opportunity at all (those whose life was brief or severely disadvantaged, for example?) The most amount of credible evidence is that we have many lives (the fact that our nonphysical, spiritual selves exist with a physical, animal body once is only proof that such can happen – hardly proof that it must never happen again). This, of course does not brush off the hurt of losing loved ones or watching them suffer, but can offer our lives some buoyancy if we find our selves floundering in a sea of meaninglessness as a result. The House of God and the House of Disbelief hate the conclusion that we have many lives, because it lessens the power of the first, and the comfort of the second – thus they attack it – but those who find themselves struggling with meaninglessness and existential angst should read the evidence for themselves (some of the better books on the subject are mentioned in the essays).
All the above we concluded through an examination of all the evidence we could find along the road to Truth – evidence: metaphysical and physical; normal and paranormal; natural and unnatural. However, we find that our conclusions can only be held “on the balance of probabilities” – there remains sufficient mystery and room for doubt that the above cannot be known “beyond reasonable doubt”. In all things, we have to decide for our selves (two words) – and this is how a meaningful life must 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 as an opportunity for self/spiritual creation. 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 life’s 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 of self, which ultimate purpose gives it special meaning. In this, our current reality, nothing is laid out, life demands constant decisions of us – and our decisions invariably define us – we become our choices. Once our choices, and self, are made life then presents its biggest opportunity – to “Know Thyself” – and, if we are not happy with our self, truly revealed/known through our choices, then life is an opportunity to make higher choices: to “Grow Thyself” – spiritual/self evolution.
But those who believe we are just our bodies, even if they can observe self growth/evolution in people over a life, would then ask: “what’s the point – some seem to grow their selves, but, what then? – because then we’re dead!”
Our expedition examined plenty of evidence from credible researchers that not only do we have many lives – but that our selves evolve to higher, ascending realities of greater and greater beauty beyond this (sometimes beautiful) one – according to the level of our spiritual evolution.
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 – “unique” because all other animals just seek to be. We also discovered that 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 own control (unlike power, money, beauty, fame). Another thing we found was that, because we are our own harshest judges, the strongest 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. So, to be happiest we should love one another (sounds a bit familiar?)
Even if the main conclusion of this philosophy of meaning is wrong (if our spiritual evolution leads nowhere but is “just” its own reward) – the holy grail of philosophy has always been to determine “how to best live” – and surely, to be happiest (by evolving spiritually through loving and being loved) is to best live?
Graeme Meakin – last revised 13th June, 2019.