THREE ESSAYS ON THE MEANING OF LIFE
“Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge”
– Winston Churchill.
These three essays have been an exploration for any ultimate purpose and special meaning there may be to our existence. To that end we particularly sought the Truth of the human condition through a consideration of our religions and philosophies and of our life experiences. Our working definitions being: “T” Truth – that which is true for everybody all the time; “ultimate” purpose – any purpose all our lives have above and beyond the (ultimately meaningless) purposes of our mortal animal bodies; “special” meaning – any meaning all our lives share above and beyond the personal meanings which most of us construct (e.g. family, career, beauty, money, status, pleasure, power, etc.).
Essay 1 (“An Examination of the House of God”) concentrated on the Christian House of God and found that, while said House did contain some “T” Truths for us (mainly those brought by Jesus: love, forgive, do unto others) it was unsound because founded upon the incredible and contradictory Bible – comprised of the brutal and largely mythical Old Testament and the frequently contradictory and fanciful doctrinising of the House-building Church fathers in the New Testament. All up, the Bible manages to drown the baby of Jesus’ Truths in religious bathwater. Further, the evils perpetrated in the name of the Bible’s primitive, human, male, sexist, brutal, jealous, parochial, Abrahamic “g” god, subsequent to Jesus (and in his name) has turned many against a belief in any real “G” God – just as the incredibility of the House of God’s supposedly meaningful purpose of life (that it is a one-off test for eternity in heaven or hell) has turned many against the belief that life could have any credible purpose or meaning at all. While our examination concentrated on the Christian House of God, most of our findings applied to all Houses of the Abrahamic god founded upon a “B” Book – supposedly written/inspired by God, but actually written by religious officers to authorise and institutionalise their power. However, the story of Jesus is in the Bible, but because it is contradictory you will have to find the Truth of him for your self. One thing we can know is that Jesus tried to reform his religion – and its priests killed him to protect their power. All up, religion, rather than being about God, was found to be about humanity – and the worst thing that ever happened to a credible belief in the existence of any God – and to a credible belief in the existence of any ultimate purpose and/or special meaning to our lives.
Essay 2 (“An Examination of the House of Disbelief”) then examined the House of Disbelief, and found that, while its foundations were sound (mainly the Truths of our physical sciences), upon these foundations were built unsound philosophical pillars. Pillars like: the Problem of Evil; scientism; determinism; reductionism; physicalism; neuroscientism; behaviourism; natural selectionism; Darwinism; atheism; relativism; post modernism; nihilism; existentialism. Such are all basically materialist fundamentalisms which would have us believe that the human condition (including all our behaviours – even the spiritual ones like our understanding and appreciation of beauty) can be fully explained in terms of the physical atoms and electrical impulses of our mechanically evolved animal bodies. The House of Disbelief makes much of its steady demolition of the House of God, but you need more than the rubble of an unsound building to build a sound one in its place. Both Houses are fundamentalisms which are concerned with winning the argument for their comforting “t” truths – not the finding of potentially inconvenient “T” Truths.
Essay 3 (“Along the Road to Truth”) then set out to meet the promise made in the Introduction – to swim beyond sight of the lands upon which the House of God and the House of Disbelief are built – to explore new horizons for “T” Truths foreign to both our blinkering Houses. Although I am not a Buddhist (nor I like to think an anythingelseist) 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”. By starting we at least managed to obey his second injunction, but whether we managed to obey his first by going all the way along said road is, ultimately, for each of us to decide. All I can say is that our expedition explored new horizons for any “T” Truths to be found in the mysteries and miracles of the human condition – and we baulked at nothing: we explored the unnatural as well as the natural; the metaphysical as well as the physical; the paranormal as well as the normal. All up, we uncovered sufficient credible evidence that the human condition is to be more than our physical matter (accidentally existing, chemically alive, mechanically evolved – as the House of Disbelief would have it), that the “D” Divine exists (and is more than our ancient Houses of God could know) – and that both such “more” allows our existence to have an ultimate purpose beyond our body’s animal purposes which purpose, in turn, allows our existence special meaning beyond our own personal meanings.
So, what “purpose”, what “meaning”, what “Divine” – from what “Truths”?
If we consider the findings of the three essays together, out of the “intense complexities” that are the big existential questions: Purpose, Meaning, Life, Death, Happiness, Love, God, Heaven, Hell, Everything – the following “intense simplicities” emerge:
The purpose of anything is what it does, and the relative reality we exist in does creativity. Relativity allows the existence of relatively good, better, best – which allows, sometimes forces, selection for best. Such selection is creation through evolution. Nature mechanically selects for best to create/evolve our material, mortal, and thus (necessarily) meaningless bodies – we select for best to create/evolve our (potentially) meaningful selves.
Nothing which is creative can be meaningless – but the extent of its meaningfulness can only be in accordance with what is created. We are creative. And we create many things. We have varying talents and abilities to create things useful, beautiful, artistic, entertaining, etc. – but we all can create/evolve our self – potentially our most beautiful and meaningful creation.
Life is not a test but an opportunity – to be, know, and grow/create our self. Whether we take this, life’s observable opportunity for self evolution, is up to us. “Know Thyself” is ancient wisdom because self knowledge is necessary for self growth – allowing us to know whether we can love or loath our self – the key to lasting human happiness or unhappiness.
Other animals just seek to be, but the quest to be happy is central to human life. And the key to lasting human happiness is being able to love our self. “Lasting” because our self is the only source of happiness totally within our control, and the only thing no one can take from us. Passing contentment can be felt through pleasuring our animal senses; through our animal ego (fame, power, beauty, etc.); through the animal security offered by material things (money, property, etc.) – but all such are only held at the behest of others and/or transitory.
We are our own harshest judges, but we allow that we are truly worthy of our own love (cf. animal egotistical conceit) if others truly love us – our self/soul/spirit – not our animal bodily beauty, power, fame, talent, money etc.. Love from others is only ever truly achieved by truly loving them – we love those who love us. Love of family/fellow gene-bearers is different to love of another’s self.
Death is just the end of one opportunity for self growth/evolution. The essays considered plenty of evidence that we have many lives, and could find no evidence that we must have only one. The fact that, in a life, our spiritual self exists with an animal body, is only proof of one thing: that such can happen – hardly proof that it must never happen again. Voltaire saw it clearly: “It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.”
The fact that our religions have incredible, human gods proves nothing about the existence – or not – of any real God. The physical world offers evidence of an intelligence higher than us – with its finely-calibrated forces, ratios and constants all written in an intelligent mathematical language (none of which we devised). Our nonphysical, spiritual selves also frequently experience a wordless “D” Divine during a life (e.g. whenever we are spiritually “moved”, “lifted” by the experience of beauty).
The everything of this, our relative reality, rests in its amazing creativity. The Absolute is absolute – i.e. non-creative (and necessarily meaningless).
Arguments from evidence for the above conclusions are in the essays
THE MEANING OF LIFE?
The most common question asked in and of philosophy is: “What is the meaning of life?”
When people ask this question they are generally looking for the meaning of life – as compared to what we may find gives our particular life meaning (family, work, beauty, music, community, religion, personal status, Aristotle’s “flourishing”, etc.)
This philosophical expedition towards the meaning of life approached an answer to this question by asking: 1.) whether the reality we find ourselves in has a discernible purpose which is extended to all of us; and then asking: 2.) whether any such purpose is meaningful for all of us (whatever differing personal meanings or feelings of meaninglessness we may have constructed)? We used the terms “ultimate” purpose and “special” meaning to describe such.
So, firstly, given that the purpose of any thing is what it does, we searched for what it is that our reality does.
We determined that this relative reality we find our selves in does creativity. Such creativity is observable: consider the amazing physical creativity of the Universe from the first simple atoms which emerged out of the Big Bang; consider the wonders of organic creativity from the first simple ping of life; consider the wonders of human creativity.
In order to determine if such creative purpose is meaningful we then set out to examine some of that which this relative reality of ours creates.
Given that we are the most complicated lifeform we know of (so far) we concentrated on humanity.
According to the understandings of our physical sciences, after the subatomic matter, atoms, planets, supernovae, molecules, etc. which form the fabric of the Universe were created under the physical laws of the Universe and in accordance with mathematical formulas – this reality then created life spontaneously, chemically. Such early simple life, then evolved because relativity pertained (the existence of relatively good, better, best) – allowing nature to select for best from amongst continual random mutations – evolving first life into myriad lifeforms. Thus, eventually human bodies – as we know them – were created. This is a simple outline and, as our expedition for Truth found, there are many mysteries (like how nonphysical things like humour, consciousness, artistic beauty, etc. came to exist – to be selected by nature – when the nonphysical doesn’t exist according to physical science).
We explored such, and other, mysteries in Essays 2 & 3 but, leaving them aside for now, our living human bodies (whether the original Energy/Matter and organic life are of Divine origin, or not) are of atoms: physical, mortal, and necessarily meaningless – from “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. But we also observed convincing evidence that the human condition is to have, not only a physical body with animal needs, but a nonphysical self with spiritual needs. The essays determined that, not our atoms, but such spiritual self is truly “us” – and that our (self’s) existence in this relative reality allows/drives its creation/evolution just as surely as our body is created/evolved.
Such self creation allows special meaning (true for everybody, all the time) to our selves’ existences in this physical universe with an animal body.
The House of Disbelief disagrees, usually arguing that even though some self/spiritual evolution appears to be happening to some folk – but then we are dead – so where’s the “special” meaning in that!? However, the essays examined considerable evidence that: is it the human condition, not only, to be our immortal spiritual self, but further – that our spiritual self has several existences in this relative reality. Such various lives allow us to experience the full gamut of the human condition (both genders, various races, nationalities, religions, status, power, talents, etc.) – thereby to fully know, and thus be able to grow the self. Multiple lives also counters what the House of Disbelief considers to be its big disproof of any special meaning to our existence in this reality, viz: “The Problem of Evil” (e.g. the death of babies, sickness, accidents, natural disasters – the uneven playing fields that are our differing lives). Further, in answer the next, inevitable House of Disbelief doubt: “what’s the point of self evolution even if we have several lives here!?” – apart from all the beauties and loves we experience by living in this reality, the essays examined considerable evidence that there are higher realities of increasing beauty (and increasing reality/less illusion!) beyond this one into which we, our selves, eventually evolve when ready.
So, to answer the Meaning of Life question: the meaning of life in this relative reality is its opportunity to be/know/grow/evolve our selves. Such meaning is not removed by the death of our mortal animal bodies, or the hardship of our lives – because we have many lives, over which we can evolve into the greater realities (lesser illusions) which await beyond this basic one we call Earth.
Is the above the “T” Truth or just our comforting, personal “t” truth?
While, as stated above, arguments from evidence for the above are in the essays, we will reprise a little of such here for those starting with the Conclusion (something I often do myself, and something I advised in the Introduction).
This philosophy of meaning relies on four main things being so: 1.) that as well as a physical, animal body we have a nonphysical self; 2.) that such nonphysical self can spiritually evolve through the experiences of this reality; 3.) that we have multiple lives/opportunities to evolve our selves through the various experiences that such offer; 4.) that there are higher realities beyond this Earthly one into which our selves can ultimately evolve.
1. THE EXISTENCE OF OUR NONPHYSICAL SELF?
The essays found that it is a “T” Truth of the human condition that to be human is to have an animal body – mechanically evolved by natural selection, with animal needs and genetic imperatives. But the essays also found that there is more to the Truth of what it is to be human. Essay 3 examined considerable evidence that while we obviously have animal, bodily needs, we also have spiritual needs – even at times risking our animal bodies and their selfish genes to meet those spiritual needs. This, and other evidence led us to conclude that the human condition is to be, more truly, a body + spiritual self duality – distinctly different from the discredited Cartesian body + mind duality (“discredited” because the mind is not separate from the physical body, but obviously of the body/brain).
Neo-Darwinian materialists necessarily disagree, their fundamentalist belief is physical monism: every object in the universe can be described in terms of the fundamentals of the physical Universe – matter/energy – and every human behaviour in terms of natural selection (without any clue as to how matter/energy developed nonphysical behaviours to be so selected). But consider this from the man who wrote the book on evolution (literally), Charles Darwin:
“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” (my emphasis).
The above quote from his autobiography refers to Darwin’s time as a young man, sailing around the world on a voyage of biological discovery aboard the H.M.S. Beagle. During this voyage he explored the Brazilian jungle – and, finding himself at one point standing and admiring its beauty – he was led to consider one of the mysteries of the human condition: that we can recognise and admire beauty, even in things inimical to our body’s survival. Further, he found his self (not his body) moved spiritually by such beauty, experiencing: “higher feelings of wonder, admiration and devotion”. Darwin’s consideration of this mystery, at that time in his life, led him to conclude that the human condition is to be more than just an animal body: “I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the breath of his body”. However it needs to be remembered that Darwin was spiritual as a young man (originally contemplating a career in the ministry) – so what were his thoughts towards the end of his life, especially after his discoveries that our animal bodies physically evolve through the blind, brutal, mechanical process that is natural selection? While the omnipresent brutality of natural selection certainly put paid to his earlier conventional, religious belief in a benevolent God, did he still think that there was “more in man” than just our bodies?
To answer this we will consider his input into the discussion of our second necessary proposition, above: whether the said “more” that he recognised in man can evolve?
2. CAN OUR NONPHYSICAL SELF SPIRITUALLY EVOLVE?
Towards the end of his autobiography we get this from Darwin, speaking now as an older man:
“By degrees it will become intolerable to him to obey his sensuous passions rather than his higher impulses, which rendered habitual may be almost called instincts.”
Charles Darwin, ibid. (P. 94)
Ignoring Darwin’s sexist language, which was common for the era, (by “him” and “his” he was referring to humanity) we need to consider that: “by degrees” is slowly/evolvingly; that behaviour “rendered habitual” is behaviour which has become your usual behaviour (in this case, to obey our “higher impulses”); and that higher impulses are spiritual impulses (because above/higher than our base, animal “sensuous passions”). So, “By degrees … higher impulses … rendered habitual” is spiritual/self evolution – our self evolving to the point where we usually choose to obey our higher spiritual impulses rather than our body’s baser sensual passions – because the reverse has now “become intolerable”.
In Doubt? Consider “intolerable” to what? Certainly obeying our “sensuous passions rather than [our] higher impulses” could not be intolerable to our body – which gets much contentment from meeting its sensuous passions (and thereby spreading its selfish genes) – rather it could only be intolerable to our self/soul/spirit (call such nonphysical part of us what you will).
3. THAT WE HAVE MANY LIVES/OPPORTUNITIES TO EVOLVE OUR SELVES?
That we have many lives has to be opposed by both the House of God and the House of Disbelief because if such is true, it would be fatal to the beliefs and power of both. The House of God has to make us believe that we can have only one life – a single “test” which determines our eternal fate – heaven or hell (and that they have the power and knowledge to help us gain the best outcome from our one life/test).
The House of Disbelief, likewise, clings to the only one life belief because a single life is necessarily meaningless – using the “Problem of Evil” argument – which basically argues that: because we have only one life, such life is necessarily meaningless if it is the religious idea of being a test because of “evils” like the death of children and babies (who, dying young, must have had little or no “test”) and, in the case of those who survive to adulthood, the huge disparities between the “Evils”/challenges which the uneven playing field of life throws at us – means that if we only have one life such single test is also meaningless for most people. The House of Disbelief also uses “we can only have one life” and the “Problem of Evil” arguments to counter the conclusion of this philosophy that life is meaningful because it allows an opportunity for self/spiritual evolution – arguing that while there seems to be some evidence that some lives allow the evolution/growth of self, many don’t because of the existence of evils (as above).
However, there is no “Law of Once” in life – the fact that our spiritual self exists with an animal body once is only proof of one thing: that such can happen – not that it must never happen again. “It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.” (Voltaire). The proposition that we have many lives is often discredited by those who need to demolish it, by touting it as a paranormal idea. However, the main researchers we considered in our exploration for Truth used nothing more “paranormal” in the examination of past-life recall than hypnosis. Personally I was firstly led to examine the idea of how many lives we (our spiritual selves) have, after a friend of mine had an experience which indicated (I’m tempted to say “proved”) that he had a previous existence on Earth – and he was the least “paranormal” person I know. His total normality and the observable effect his experience had on him intrigued me. My natural scepticism of anything vaguely “spooky” was overcome when I found it was possible to examine the phenomenon of past lives without entering the “paranormal” sphere. I started with Brian Weiss – a senior psychiatrist at a leading U.S. hospital – whose professional experience left him with no doubt that we have many lives. I moved on to the work of Dr. Helen Wambach (who did a large, academic, many subject study on past lives) and Professors Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker of the University of Virginia who extensively examined children who had objectively verifiable past life experiences without having had any foreknowledge of the subject.
As already noted, “only one life” is dogma crucial to both the House of Disbelief and the House of God – and the only tenet of belief that they both hold in common. Given that our exploration found both Houses to be unsound – how much for the shared keystone of those two unsound Houses?
4. THAT THERE ARE HIGHER REALITIES INTO WHICH OUR SELVES CAN EVOLVE?
While we found plenty of evidence to create and support propositions 1., 2., and 3. just from an intellectual consideration of normal life experiences and behaviours, proposition 4. did require consideration of evidence from paranormal life experiences and phenomena. Basically, we were required to have the courage to take 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.”
Those “new horizons” being, hopefully, of a land which offered evidence for our life having some ultimate purpose and special meaning. And the “shores” we had to have the courage to swim beyond sight of – being those of the lands upon which the House of God and the House of Disbelief are built – diametrically opposed to each other, but both “hostile” to any rational belief that our existence has special meaning and/or ultimate purpose. The House of Disbelief denying outright that life has any special meaning and purpose; the House of God offering such incredible meaning and purpose to discredit the idea in the eyes of an increasingly educated humanity.
So we swam for new horizons – and our courage took us to the land of the paranormal.
The paranormal is a fertile but dangerous field for metaphysical information – equally fertile to fraudulent weeds as useful information – often throwing seeds of poisonous misinformation and destabilising disinformation. Such poison and danger come mainly from fraudulent operators who seek to exploit those who go there – most often vulnerable, wishful folk – not uncommonly recently bereaved and in need of comfort and reassurance.
Given the uncertainty presented by the undoubted presence of such fraudulence, should this exploration which is trying to be a rational exploration for the “T” Truth of the human condition, enter the paranormal at all?
SHOULD THE PARANORMAL BE CONSIDERED?
So-called “paranormal” (anomalous, numinous?) experiences whether you personally believe them or not, are part of the human experience – many “normal” and credible people have had them – and having accepted Buddha’s injunction to go all the way along the road to Truth, we are bound to consider all human experiences for any Truth. Not only that, but as Essays 1 & 2 concluded, no path to Truth was presently available through our two main, normal, philosophical belief systems (the House of God or the House of Disbelief) because they are homes to diametrically opposed fundamentalisms and locked in a mutual logjam because concerned mainly with winning the argument for their “t” truths rather than finding any “T” Truths of the human condition – which Truths could prove to be inconvenient to their office bearers power, and their members comfort (yes Virginia, while Disbelievers have long accused residents of the House of God of seeking comfort, such is also to be found in the House of Disbelief).
And, more importantly, we have come to believe that if humanity is to survive, our spiritual evolution needs to catch up with our tearaway technological evolution. We presently have atom bombs in the hands of countries which have a primitive religious spirituality derived from ancient “B” Books which contain not only incredible meanings and gods but divinely-approved Armageddon scenarios – or we have atom bombs in the hands of countries with no spiritual beliefs at all, just neo-Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest outlooks.
So, to the paranormal, we were forced to go – but always mindful of its potential to mislead, destabilise – and generally derail our expedition for “T” Truth. Thus we approached it with a healthy scepticism (as opposed to a fundamentalist, shut-minded “S” Scepticism) – keen to examine it for Truth but wide awake to the potential for fraudulence and for the possibility of any personal, confirmation bias among our expedition’s members (a lot of paranormal information is attractive to ordinary folk as well as the needy, grieving, and distraught – there is much good news there – and it is natural to want to believe it).
THE PARANORMAL AND HOW WE APPROACHED IT
Recognising that the credibility of our whole expedition was now on the line, we were especially careful as to whom we allowed as reliable experiencers or researchers into the paranormal, and also what we allowed as credible evidence. All up, in Essay 3 we were careful to confine ourselves to researchers and experiencers who mainly had academic qualifications and, preferably, professional experience in their field as well. Most importantly, we tried to select those researchers (often scientists or medical doctors) who had already achieved much in life in the way of personal status, professional respect, financial sufficiency before they went into the paranormal field (i.e. they had much more to lose, than gain, if they indulged in fraudulence). Your typical frauds, on the other hand, start with nothing – thus have nothing to lose, but plenty to gain (usually money, status, power over people, fame etc.).
So, while it was understood that there would always be a risk that our expedition for Truth would be derailed in the paranormal (not only by the fraudulent, but by those who are genuine but misguided, deluded, and/or incompetent) such risk was considered much reduced by our criteria for whom we chose as guides. And we considered it a risk worth taking because we only have to find one true paraphenomenon for materialist idealism’s entirely physical (and hope-less) model of the universe to be broken. Even if only one past life; only one experience of a next reality beyond this one; only one communication with a surviving consciousness could be verified – then the possibility of many lives, higher realities, and our self’s/consciousness survival of bodily death are established as “T” Truth. 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.”
ONE WHITE CROW?
So how did we go?
Our expedition found, in fact, several “white crows” – credible evidence from rational, already successful, qualified and respected academic professionals in different areas of paranormal research (e.g. NDE’s, past life recall, mediums, ITC). In the field of séances and mediums, researchers of the calibre of Professor David Fontana, Professor William James, and Professor F. W. H. Myers; researchers into past lives of the calibre of Professor Ian Stevenson, Dr. Brian Weiss and Dr. Helen Wambach; NDE researchers of the calibre of Dr. Sam Parnia, Dr. Pim van Lommel, and Dr. Kenneth Ring; and ITC researchers Professor Ernst Senkowski and Anabela Cardoso – to mention a few of the best in each field. We also considered the work of researchers and experiencers from the past century or so – researchers of the calibre of Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr. Robert Crookall, Lord Dowding, Sir William Barrett, Professor James Hyslop – and some of the better general researchers from the British and the American Societies for Psychical Research (Dr. David Fontana was a past president). These Societies do try to have an investigatory and supposedly always a “s” sceptical approach, and have managed to be attacked by Sceptics and Spiritualists, both.
All up, the better researchers confirmed each other on the main points which were most salient for the propositions upon which our conclusions are based – that: a spiritual self exists independent of the physical body; we have multiple lives; there are other, higher realities beyond this one into which we can spiritually grow/evolve.
THE QUANTUM WORLD
There is also an increasing amount of scientific work being done with psychic phenomena like mental telepathy, ESP, psychoimmunology, PSD, psychokinesis, etc. However, when the scientific discoveries of quantum mechanics are considered, the lines between what is paranormal or “normal” are not as distinct as materialist members of the House of Disbelief like to believe – this from neuroscientist Dr. Mario Beauregard (Assistant Professor at the Neuroscience Research Centre, University of Montreal):
“Materialist scientists and philosophers are also led to consider certain phenomena such as psi, NDE, and mystical experiences as anomalous. These phenomena are anomalous only to the extent that we cling to the false assumptions of scientific materialism. Seen and understood through the lens of quantum mechanics, most of these phenomena do not appear anomalous at all. So-called paranormal events are, in effect, perfectly normal…The time has come for my colleagues to embrace the many possibilities of the universe opened by the new physics and free their minds from the shackles and blinders of the scientific materialist credo. ”
“Brain Wars”, Mario Beauregard. P. 212
We will have a bit more of a look at the implications of quantum physics in a moment (and a little look at just what we accept as “normal” and/or “paranormal”) but first, we need to consider the Sceptics’ point of view and the evidence their Disbelief relies on.
OF SCEPTICS AND SCEPTICISM?
As stated, a sceptical approach is essential for any exploration for “T” Truths in the paranormal field, however, reading the prominent sceptics of our time reveals that there are many who are fundamentalist “S” Sceptics. Such Sceptics are almost always fundamentalist materialists who believe that all must be matter/energy, therefore any and every aspect of the human condition must be completely explicable in terms of our physical body – and its mechanical evolution by natural selection.
Fundamental Neo-Darwinian materialism sees no need to even contemplate anything spiritual, let alone seriously examine it – believing that physics, chemistry, and Darwinian biology are on the verge of unifying together into a “Theory of Everything” – which can successfully describe everything about the human condition (“There is only physics, all the rest is stamp-collecting” – Rutherford; “Physics can explain everything” – Hawking). Such fundamental materialists believe that any honest researchers who have come to believe that paranormal and/or spiritual phenomena are “real” must have been victims of confirmation bias. However, “S” Sceptics have such a fundamentalist Disbelief that they only ever approach paranormal evidence to discover the necessary fraud which must exist – and they find the proof of fraud in any slightest, theoretical possibility that such could exist – their analysis of the remarkable Scole séances being a good example. (The Scole séances are available on the internet.) It must be seriously considered whether the “S” Sceptics’ approach is disconfirmation bias?
All that said, we do need to consider any arguments against accepting paranormal information – however fundamentalist such may be.
EVIDENCE AGAINST ACCEPTING ANY PARANORMAL EVIDENCE?
Essay 3 examined the evidence most commonly put forward by “S” Sceptics as disproof of paranormal phenomena, and found that there are five common arguments upon which they rely:
1.) Some operators in the paranormal have been proven to be fraudulent – claiming to be genuine 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.) There have been 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 even the best mediums is sometimes wrong.
4.) There is no physical proof of nonphysical phenomena.
5.) On the other hand the normal is just so real.
Let’s have a look at these arguments:
Fake operators using techniques like cold calling (starting off with a series of broad statements, some of which are bound to be true for some people in the audience, then focussing in on those: “I’m getting a message from someone called Bob, I can feel chest pains, etc., etc.”) – are actually cynical performers, not the spiritual people they claim to be – making a lot of money from the needy and bereaved by supplying them with simple, longed-for messages (“I have just spoken to your departed husband and he survives, and is OK – he sends his love and is waiting for you.” etc. etc.) The sometime “hits” of such performers are remembered, their “misses” wilfully forgotten by those in need of comfort.
While it is a fact that there are plenty of fraudulent “mediums” and “psychics” – possibly even the majority are – must this necessarily prove that all paranormal operators and phenomena are fraudulent? Can there be “one white crow”?
The information received by those mediums who were accepted as genuine by the researchers we used as guides into the paranormal, went way beyond such simple stuff as the circus performers, above – into arcane, complex, spiritual and metaphysical content – often conveying very personal information unknown to anybody other than the (often anonymous to the medium) séance sitter. Many of the more highly regarded mediums sought no fame/notoriety (and often charged no money) – and were in a trance (i.e. not being able to question – thus elicit any information from the sitter – 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 the more 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 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, and much too experienced in the paranormal to mistake charlatans for genuine mediums.
This argument comes from the observation that some alleged paranormal experiences (like NDE’s) can vary. Such variation stems from the fact that Sceptics accept and include any weird/mental experience as a “paranormal” NDE if an experiencer claim 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 quite often they have actually had: an experience 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.
Mental events such as these are discrepant experiences, and Sceptics see such discrepancies between these alleged NDE’s as disproof of real NDE’s – arguing that all NDE’s should be the same. However these events listed above are physically induced experiences of the body/brain, not paranormal phenomena or spiritual experiences. 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 the two of the propositions pertinent to the conclusions of our investigation into the Truth of human condition: 1.) survival of consciousness/self after bodily death; 2.) realities beyond this one – commonly describing a next reality of great beauty; intense feelings of non-judgemental love; a life review; the presence of higher beings.
Reports of other realities are bound to vary because, commonly, experiencers have great trouble in finding earthly words to describe such unearthly experiences – and experiencers have different educational levels and cultural expectations – higher beings encountered during NDE’s are usually given different earthly names from the religious expectations of the experiencer (e.g. Jesus, Buddha, etc.). It has also been found that reports from genuine experiences of the next reality can vary especially if said experience was brief (the experiencer was revived from bodily death more quickly than others). Researchers have also found that, in the early initial stages after bodily death, the experiencer can encounter those cultural expectations which he/she expected after death – for example: nothing, hell, conventional heaven – etc. Such differing expectations leading to differing reports of “the other side”.
Sometimes some of the information received through even the best mediums is wrong. It must be considered whether this outweighs the sheer volume of correct information which has been supplied by mediums over the years. Masses of private, personal, often arcane information has been delivered by mediums after no cold-calling fishing expedition (most often from a medium who is in a trance therefore cannot elicit information from the sitter). As Professor William James noted, just as there only has to be one “white crow” to disprove all crows are black – there only has to be one genuine message from a surviving spirit/soul/self in another reality to prove survival of spirit/soul/self after bodily death and the existence of subsequent realities to this Earthly one. One particular white crow Essay 3 considered was the phenomenon considered by the Society for Psychical Research called the “cross correspondences” – a phenomenon where bits of information, which make no sense on their own, have been sent from a deceased entity through various individual mediums who are not in contact with each other. The information only makes sense when all the pieces from different mediums are put together – and is arcane information which only makes sense to the person to whom it was sent.
Even the better, usually correct mediums, although necessarily spiritually sensitive, are human beings with only human brains/abilities. Some communicators from “the other side” complain that getting information to even the best mediums is difficult at times – one described it as sometimes like “trying to dictate words to an obtuse secretary through a shut, frosted-glass window”.
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 viscous 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 self to be measured or felt – we can feel our said self being “moved”, “lifted”, “inspired” by beauty, for example – which nonphysical beauty 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 consider again 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 (i.e. dangerous to the survival of our supposedly selfish genes) – which observation led him to the “conviction that there is more in man than the breath of his body.”
Stems from the fact that the physical world seems so real to most of us, being continually experienced by us through our bodily senses – just sooo normal. But let’s have a look at the apparent reality of this normal world.
JUST HOW REAL IS THE NORMAL?
How real is “normal” reality? Let’s consider matter – the stuff of reality – the material ruler by which everything must be measurable to exist? Has such material ruler 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. Matter is overwhelmingly space. Further, even those subatomic particles of matter which are not space are actually a chimera of energy fields and quantum probabilities which can only resolve/collapse as a concentrated particle or an extended wave through our nonphysical consciousness of them.
So, what’s more real because “normal”, then – the apparent normality of this life in this physical world (which needs our nonphysical self’s consciousness of it to exist as concrete matter), or the apparent paranormality of the “afterlife” – similarly existing because of our nonphysical self’s consciousness of it?
Quantum physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner recount an argument between four fellow quantum physicists, during a physics conference they 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
More from Rosenblum and Kuttner in a moment, but the above accords with the information from Professor F.W.H. Myers – sent by paranormal means to fellow members of the Society for Psychical Research – that the next reality which awaits us is the actual, real one: being “the original of the earth”, the Earth being only “an ugly smudged copy”. Shades of Plato’s cave!?
But some will continue to insist that information such as this from Myers just seems too bizarre to be taken seriously. “Too bizarre” – compared to what – compared to our “real” world perhaps?
THE PARANORMAL IS TOO BIZARRE – COMPARED TO THE REAL WORLD?
You want bizarre? – I’ll give you bizarre – for example, consider what our physical sciences are telling us about this real, normal, non-paranormal world that we seem to be in:
· Our material universe is accidental – just one of an infinite number of universes coming into (and out of?) existence accidentally – from nothing.
· All must exist by chance – including all the fine settings of the forces, ratios, constants, etc. which allow the universe to continue to exist into the teeth of natural entropy – even though such “chance” is trillions of trillions to one against.
· Everything has been accidentally written in an intelligent language – mathematics.
· There can be no “First Mover/God” – a cause-and-effect universe with no cause!
· The inert/inorganic matter, which emanated from the accidental, sterile, billion-degree big bang – must also have become alive/organic accidentally – chemically, spontaneously.
· The original single physical cell(s) of accidentally-existing, spontaneously-living matter must have developed nonphysical factors (like consciousness) from accidental, random physical mutations to physical matter which were mechanically selected by blind nature.
· That we bundles of accidental matter, spontaneously alive, should mechanically evolve to be able to speak the mathematical language that the whole accidental thing was accidentally written in – when such ability is not necessary to survive (no other animal can).
· That one bunch of accidentally-living, accidentally-existing, matter should be writing this, and another bunch should be reading it?
If that’s not bizarre enough, consider what quantum physics is now telling us about our normal physical world – and ourselves:
“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” (our consciousness creates this our present reality! – why can’t it create the next realities?)
· “many parallel worlds”?
· “each of us in each of them”?
· “a universal connectedness”? (paranormal evidence suggests universal consciousness and the unity of everything).
So, through our understandings of quantum physics we have entered, not only an era of post-classical physics, but a post-materialism era as well. Again, it is actually “concrete” matter which is the chimera, not the much more real and normal nonphysical, spiritual, numinous, anomalous, paranormal (call it what you will) phenomena which we experience and live with every day. Nonphysical phenomena like our experience of being spiritually moved by beauty (as Darwin was in the Brazilian jungle) and our constant experience of our nonphysical consciousness.
“…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.”
Rosenblum & Kuttner (ibid. P. 10)
Basically, instead of our physical brain/body being ”us”, as materialists claim – we are our self/consciousness – the bodily brain is just a physical tool, a transceiver for consciousness. 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 for the conclusions our expedition towards the Truth of the human condition reached – if “your body is not you”? 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.
Evidence from a physical scientist which supports the key finding from our consideration of “paranormal” phenomena – that we, our consciousness, our real self – survive bodily death.
WHAT IS “NORMAL”
All up, after considering the Truths brought to us by quantum physics, we need to reconsider what’s normal – and what’s paranormal? To repeat a part of the above quote from “Brain Wars” by neuroscientist Professor Mario Beauregard: “…Seen and understood through the lens of quantum mechanics, most of these phenomena do not appear anomalous at all. So-called paranormal events are, in effect, perfectly normal.”
“Anomalous” (deviating from what is expected) is probably the better word than “paranormal” which carries so much wooo-ooo baggage.
HOW STANDS ACADEMIC MATERIALISM?
So, should materialism based on classic physics continue to dominate our academic philosophy of meaning? Such academic philosophy, once well described as mainly a footnote to Plato – seems now more truly described as the handmaiden to physics?
All considered, our understanding of classical physics and the evolution of species is not the lay-down proof of the accidentalness and meaninglessness of the Universe that materialists once thought it was. And neither can the paranormal be fobbed off as the home of neurotics and gullible wishful thinkers that the House of Disbelief wished it was. While materialist and Darwinist fundamentalism originally grew strong in academia to combat the obvious dangers of religious fundamentalism, fundamentalism of any sort is dangerous – if humanity is to find the “T” Truth which could buoy us in our present sea of meaninglessness.
So what of God?
The main aim of this expedition was not to explore for God, rather it was to explore for the “T” Truths of the human condition and, through a consideration of any such Truths we could find, to approach any special meaning and ultimate purpose that our existence may have. But we also accepted Buddha’s challenge to “go all the way” along the road to Truth, and thus do need to contemplate a Divine which has been frequently implied by some of our explorations into life’s mysteries.
Essay 1 concluded that our present religions have incredible, human-shaped “g” gods – taken from primitive Books written during prescientific eras which had no understanding of the true magnificence of our universe, and of the life within it. However, the incredibility of our religions’ “g” gods does not mean that there necessarily must be no real “G” God. Added to that, a “D” Divinity was quietly implied, several times, by some of the evidence considered in Essays 2 and 3 – especially in the mysteries of our universe’s essential dimensions, forces, and constants all set in fine ratios to each other and all written in the intelligent language that is mathematics – and in the mysteries of the human condition, like our spiritual self, consciousness, humour, our understanding and appreciation of beauty, virtues, shame, ethics, etc.
Our examination of the paranormal also revealed that experiencers of certain phenomena (like NDE’s, for example) frequently reported an encounter with higher beings – and sometimes an overarching Divine presence (but also reporting that there is no one true religion or faith – and frequently the experiencers returned more spiritual but less religious).
But what can we conclude from our explorations of the nature of any God?
While a complete understanding of such Divine/Absolute nature must be beyond us creatures of this relative reality, surely we can manage speculations which can more closely approach the Divine than those incredible speculations of our ancient ancestors – whose prescientific world could only envisage a human male with all “His” usual failings: jealousy, parochialism, vanity, anger, cruelty, sexism, and more. Such an incredible, human god has emptied our current Houses of God of all but the elderly and/or afraid, and such a brutal god has caused (and is still causing) many evils to flow from religion.
So, given our modern scientific understandings, what can we speculate about the nature of God?
We have seen that science believes, “in the beginning” there was an event which most are calling the big bang (or similar “big inflation, big expansion” etc.) which was the beginning of everything which exists now. So the key to any God must lie before the big bang – and the natural question to ask, of course, is: “what exactly went ‘bang’ – what existed before the big bang?”
Ask this of a physicist and the answer is: “there can be no ‘before’ the big bang because time began then”. However, if, as physics also tells us (according to the constantly proven laws of thermodynamics) that energy cannot be created – energy must have already existed before the big bang.
Thus energy is absolute/eternal – basically prime characteristics we also ascribe to God. So, maybe that should be “E” Energy/God – and maybe we should contemplate that God became the universe – rather than the religious notion that God “created” it?
In Essay 3 we examined consciousness and concluded that our personal consciousness seems to be an individuation of something larger – a universal consciousness (in Professor David Fontana’s words: “an ocean of pure unitary consciousness of which each individual consciousness is an expression”). So, if our physical body is of the original Energy, and our soul/consciousness is part of a universal consciousness the implications are that we are of God – body and soul. Meaning that we, and everything that has consciousness, are part of how God is conscious of/experiences all that was created/became – through the physical senses of our bodies (both pleasurable and painful) – and spiritually through our nonphysical self/soul. The following comes to mind (to quote one of the better parts of the Bible):
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
And this from Neal Donald Walsch’s conversation with God:
“ ‘... what I am seeking is to know Myself experientially. I am doing this through you, and through everything else that exists.’ ”
“Conversations With God”, Neale Donald Walsch – Book 3, P.11
While I don’t know whether to place Walsch in the paranormal (his extraordinary books are claimed to be received by automatic writing) or the New Age, his books are worth reading with plenty of new ideas about what a real God may be. Certainly our investigations of the human condition backs up Walsch’s above (supposedly Divine) communication. For instance, we found that the human condition is to be a body + self/spiritual duality – and our bodies are of matter formed out of the original, eternal Energy at the Big Bang; our life energy being from the same source; and our self/consciousness an individuation of the Universal Consciousness/God. In other words, there is every indication that, while we are not God, we are of God. And our bodies’ senses are how God experiences the created Universe physically; our consciousness how God experiences spiritually the beauties of creation. As per Walsch, above: “I am seeking to know Myself experientially. I am doing this through you…”. And, lest we lapse into anthropocentrism, the next part of the sentence should also be noted: “…and through everything else that exists.” One of the rare gems of the Bible also comes to mind: “Inasmuch as ye do it unto one of these the least of my creatures, ye do it unto me.”
In short, we and every living thing are of the original Energy/God – body and soul. Said bodily senses and soul consciousness being how God experiences the Universe.
OUR EXPEDITION’S SPECULATION
So that is our expedition’s speculation on the Divine based on our exploration for the Truth of the human condition and of the physical and nonphysical mysteries of the world we humans find our selves in. Such speculation (for what it is worth) is only offered in the spirit of competition to the incredible speculations on the Divine of the (emptying) House of God and the (half blind) House of Disbelief – whose speculations have led the majority of people in the West away from a belief in any Divine. While a complete understanding of the nature of the Absolute/God must be beyond creatures born of, and only experienced of the relative; these essays conclude, on the balance of evidence, that there is a “D” Divine – which, through the bodily senses and spiritual selves/consciousness of every living thing, experiences this Universe which (some part of) the Divine Energy became – and all living things (being of God body and soul) are also part of the Divine creativity (think the beauties of human creativity and Animalia in general.)
And what of the other large questions which concern most people (whether they admit it or not): heaven and hell – do they exist? Is there Divine justice from an all-knowing God – reward and punishment for past behaviours?
HEAVEN AND HELL; REWARD AND PUNISHMENT; DIVINE JUSTICE?
One of the most consistent reports from experiencers and researchers into the paranormal who met our criteria for expertise, honesty and credibility – is that, after bodily death, we (our self, soul, consciousness) experience another, higher, plane of existence which has certain of the generally expected heavenly characteristics – a place of great beauty, complete understanding, and overarching love – wherein there is a reunion with all of those whom we loved on Earth (even pets). While there is also an experience of a Divine presence, there is no Divine punishment/reward meted out for our Earthly behaviours – as conventionally expected. Rather there is a past life review – which we must undergo if we are to belong to our new afterlife reality and/or to eventually progress and spiritually evolve into even higher realities. Such past life review, while not a punishment in the religious expectation of bodily punishment in a sea of fire, can be a truly harrowing experience. During this life review we come to truly “Know Thyself” through re-experiencing all of our last life – but this time through the eyes and experiences of others – suffering all the sadness and pain we caused, and all the joys and pleasures we created as well.
To answer the above questions:
· heaven and hell do exist – but they are the one place; where we come to truly know and experience our selves.
· reward and punishment do exist – to know and experience your self can be agony and/or joy.
· divine justice does exist – you reap exactly as you sow.
We all yearn for justice, and the above represents immaculate justice: heavenly for those who have been heavenly to others; hellish for those who have been hellish to others – a bit of both for most. Basically, what you do to others, you do to your self. The quicker we learn this, here, the better our chances of survival as a species.
While there is no eternal hell in a sea of fire, those, who most agree, have surely earned it (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-un, et al come to mind) – their eventual experience of the millions of painful lives they caused others to suffer on Earth must end up seeming like eternal hell. Those who are presently oppressing others but have not finished their current lives (various present dictators, despots, evil religious leaders, oligarchs, robber capitalists, sexual predators, corrupt politicians, and the like) – should reconsider the Faustian pacts against their souls that they have entered into – basically they are trading the experience of one brief life of power and privilege on Earth for the experience of all the suffering they caused to others – which awaits them.
And, according to the information and evidence we allowed as credible in Essay 3, there is further immaculate justice – after the past life review we are reunited with our fellow soul mates – and who they are might surprise us. Those who killed in the name of a god join fellow murderers (not 72 virgins); robber businessmen/capitalists join fellow robbers (not captains of industry); those who were selfish join selfish others; etc., etc. in a purgatory-like place (not hell, but dismal) where knowledge of who are our soul mates is the final brick in the wall of the knowledge of our true self – where we truly come to “Know Thy Self”.
In such place we can repent at our leisure and consider our way forward. There is no force, we can choose to remain in our dismal but rightful place for eternity – but eternity it must be – there is no such thing as self/spiritual suicide. If we do choose to advance our self/spiritual evolution, reportedly the most effective way forward is usually another opportunity at spiritual evolution on Earth-like realities.
For those who achieve the necessary spiritual growth to belong, there are reportedly ever more beautiful, higher and higher planes of existence – ascending planes of ascending beauty – available to all who achieve the necessary spiritual evolution to belong therein. These higher planes are described as being of a beauty beyond our present comprehension – beauties which communicators from the higher planes find hard to convey to us on our basic Earthly plane because there are no entirely suitable Earthly words. Some have talked of music whose beauty is too exquisite for us to tolerate at our present, lowly level of spiritual evolution.
THE ULTIMATE TRUTH?
Quite a few of us would wish that the above is the “T” Truth – and, unfortunately, too many of us – can only hope that it is not.
So, which is it?
Put it this way – there is evidence that it is the Truth – and no evidence that it is not (just the philosophy of materialism built upon the shape-shifting chimera that is matter).
We will consider more of this ultimate question, below – but first: there is an elephant in the living room of all philosophies of meaning – “WHY?”
WHY? – THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM
Why is all this going on?
Some proffer God as the answer. But even though we have found that there is, most likely, a dimly-understood God – the question remains: why is God doing this? Is “He” churning out new souls like sausages for his entertainment; or to be company; or to worship “Him” (as my religious studies teacher assured me at school)? This is commonly called the “Mind of God” question (and probably best avoided if you only have a mind of man) – but we’ll soldier on under Buddha’s injunction to go all the way along the road to Truth.
The most sensible answer to the Why? question is: “that this is just how it is” – and our exploration for meaning and purpose could stop there – because we have found evidence that “just how it is”, is purposeful and meaningful. But as well as having taken Buddha’s injunction to go all the way along the road to Truth, we have seen that the House of God and the House of Disbelief both have proffered dangerous speculations on this WHY question – “dangerous” because both speculations are beyond incredible – to being hostile to any belief meaning to life, leaving us drowning in the sea of meaninglessness which we encountered in the Introduction. If we hope to survive as a species, we have to do better (“this species could do better” – sounds a bit like my old report cards!?).
All speculations are only as good as the evidence they rely on. The essays found both of our Houses had poor evidence for their dangerous speculations. Our Houses of Gods’ speculations: that God made the Universe/Earth as a once-only testing-ground for us, his prime creation (the prize or punishment being heaven or hell) – is a poor speculation because based on the unreliable evidence of ancient, contradictory, “B” Books written by men (no women) in eras of primitive brutality and great ignorance of the Universe. On the other hand, the House of Disbelief’s dangerous speculations of the accidentalness, therefore meaninglessness, of our entirely material existence is based on our physical sciences’ incomplete understanding of the physical world (which world actually includes incomprehensible mysteries like the quantum enigma) – and on our physical sciences’ denial of anything nonphysical (based on a total inability to comprehend it using the scientific method).
So, what is our expedition’s speculation, and what is the evidence for it?
WHY? FROM THE WHAT!
We will attempt to approach closer to a credible WHY? speculation of the universe by looking closely at the WHAT! of the universe: what does it do?.
What the universe does is creativity.
What does it create?
The Universe creates much natural beauty (consider the beauties of animal and floral forms, colours, and landscapes). And the Universe created us – and we have created much beauty in turn (consider human arts, music, buildings, etc.). For many, this fantastic creativity of our Universe (from chaos) is enough of an answer to any/every WHY? question. But why us – to understand, appreciate, and create some of this beauty? If we are to meet the injunction we accepted to “go all the way”, we must forge on into the ultimate question.
The absolute is absolute – everything just is: immutable, unchangeable – thus necessarily uncreative and devoid of meaning. Whereas relativity is highly creative because it allows the existence of things relatively good, better, best – thus allowing creative selection for best. To create “best” a creative, selective, agent is needed. Both nature and humanity are selective, creative agents of this universe – nature mechanically selects for best from random mutations to create all the various animal bodies (natural selection) – and we select for best from our self’s behaviours, those which make us happiest with/able to love our self (thus creating/evolving our self).
So, while just the existence of the beauties of nature and humanity allow an answer to the WHY? question, the creation/evolution of our self through our choices allows an even stronger one. And such answer is strengthened further by the evidence that there are several, higher planes of reality into which we can create/evolve our selves – according to some accounts, towards an eventual reunion with the Divine energy from which we came “in the beginning”. In such ultimate Union (reunion?) we exist with all selves/souls in the Divine/Universal Consciousness beyond the strictures of time and space – able to witness the history of the entire universe(s) and experience the existence of all its creatures – anything, anywhere, anytime. Able to experience through the individual consciousness of all things what it is like to be them – to feel and experience all their feelings and experiences – to fly like an eagle; swim like a porpoise; run like a cheetah; make honey like a bee. And be able to witness, participate in, experience every event of human history, great or small: – what it was like to create, perform, witness: the great music; sing the great songs; paint the great works; pen the great poems; rock the great concerts; win the grand prix; kick the winning goal in the World Cup; drive the great cars; drink the great wines; eat at the great tables; make love with the great lovers…
Golly! Got a bit carried away there? But, according to some research into the mysteries of consciousness examined in the essays, not so silly. Consciousness, it is coming to be realised, is like more like a TV transmission of energy than a passing physical state of brain matter/atoms – energy that cannot be destroyed, existing forever.
However, for some, all of the above raises another WHY? question: if the eventual planes/realities are so fantastic – why should we continue with our present physical body, in a frequently too hard life situation, in this often barbaric reality – why not move on to the next, better life or reality?
WHY SHOULD WE CONTINUE TO EXIST HERE?
As stated in the Introduction, there are a growing numbers of suicides as more and more of us find ourselves drowning in a sea of meaninglessness. For many, life in this reality seems too hard, too unfair – making suicide (and sometimes even suicide bombing) look comparably attractive. If we put forward a philosophy which includes evidence that we have many lives in this world – and, eventually, an existence in more beautiful, peaceful, and loving realities – are we not going to encourage suicide to escape a present unpleasant reality?
One of the things paranormal evidence is definite about, is that suicide, while not leading to hell (as most religious traditions hold) most often leads to another life on Earth where we will have to face similar issues to those challenging us now. There is consensus that challenge leads to self growth – if we are to grow/evolve into the next realities of greater and greater beauty and creativity we need to grow to belong. We might as well face our present challenges/opportunities to know our self, and take the opportunity that such struggle presents for growth into higher realities?
Suicide in the face of dire illness, from several reports, is a different matter.
So, that’s about it, folks – have we determined the “T” Truth of the human condition and found the purpose and meaning of life? Have we obeyed Buddha’s injunction to go all the way along the road to Truth – beyond reasonable doubt?
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT?
But I think it fair to say that we have, on the balance of probabilities, established that there is more credible evidence for special meaning and ultimate purpose to our existence than there is credible evidence against. There remains some mystery, of course, but it must be considered that if there was none and the special meaning and purpose to our existence was obvious and provable “beyond reasonable doubt”, then life, would not work as it presently does to reveal our self to be known and thereby provide opportunities for self growth – and be truly be meaningless. This from Professor Fontana referring to 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 everything about life was clearly understood, if life had no mysteries for each of us to resolve personally, if we had no choices to make, if our path laid out for us to follow – life would be just a tour through a theme park: pleasant enough but essentially meaningless. Whereas, how life presently is, is redolent of ultimate purpose – which gives it special meaning. Life is not a test but an opportunity, and what we find it an opportunity for will define us. Such self-definition/creation is an observable purpose (what it does) which allows life to be redolent of special meaning. As we saw, life gives us the opportunity to be our selves, which gives us the opportunity to know our selves – and the ultimate opportunity/purpose to grow our selves. In this we are given no plans or instructions to follow but must make our own way through life’s dangers and delights, its thrills and spills, challenges and rewards – our reactions to all of which define us – by asking/forcing us to come to our own decisions and make our own choices. We become our choices when they become habitual (as Darwin noted). In this, life’s observable process, we must first live an authentic life by being our true self, which allows us to come to know that self – then we can take life’s ultimate opportunity to grow/evolve our self until we can be happy – with our self. As we considered, above, happiness with self is the only path to lasting happiness – our self being the only source of happiness totally within our control – such happiness best secured when others love us, our self (not our power, money, fame, etc.)
Fundamentalist materialists tell people that life is just accidentally existing physical matter, spontaneously alive and mechanically evolved – devoid of anything but animal purposes and personal meanings. In this they are actually more doing God’s work than I am, by urging people to live an authentic life – a favourite existentialist injunction) – to create their own meaning and purpose – the necessary first step before being able to know your true self, crucial to the evident self-growth/evolution/creation process that is in our self’s existence(s) in this relative reality with an animal body.
But some would say that the philosophy of meaning which emerged in these essays is just like religion, asking us to give up the only thing we “know” – the here and now of this immediate and apparently certain reality – for a potentially better future in unknowable realities beyond this one. Not so, this philosophy doesn’t ask us to “give up” anything; doesn’t ask for any sacrifices in the “here and now” – but indicates a way to live best in the here and now by being happiest about our self – always the key to lasting Earthly happiness. In this, this philosophy is approaching what has always been seen as philosophy’s other main task – to determine how to live best. So, even if the main tenet of this philosophy (that our spiritual self survives bodily death) is wrong: – and the Truth is that the death of our body is the end of everything, there is no downside – we still live this, one and only life, best – because happiest.
However, if this philosophy is right about life being an opportunity for self growth/evolution into higher, even more magnificent realities than this one – then it will not only allow us “to live best” in this reality but also lead us best into such next realities. In this way, we are offered a win-win wager better than Pascal’s (whose wager involved wasting quite a bit of this reality in worshipping a needy, jealous god – just in case “he” exists).
But Pascal and evangelical fundamentalists will reply that there is a downside: I will end up in hell for eternity – their ideas that there can be only one life and of a jealous, hell-flinging God must be right – because their ancient Book says so. But our exploration for “T” Truth found their “B” Book, supposedly written by God is actually a “b” book written by man (it is obvious no woman had a hand in it) – wrong in many places – getting astronomy wrong, biology wrong, history wrong, Jesus wrong, and God wrong (envisaged as a misogynistic, parochial, male brute). Such Abrahamic “g” god was/is a failure – failing the Hebrew tribes who invented “him”, time after time as they were invaded by every neighbouring people; is failing the Muslim tribes now; and over the centuries drew the “Christian” tribes into some of the worst behaviour known to man (conducting inhuman tortures during the Inquisition and burning countless thousands at the stake in “his” name!). While these essays imply the existence of a “G” God/Gods/Higher Agency and offer some speculations about the Divine, we can’t know the full nature of such Divine – but we can know what God is not – and such a jealous, vengeful, murderous, Abrahamic god is definitely what God is not.
The House of Disbelief also says I am wrong – humanity’s almost complete understanding of physics, chemistry, and evolutionary biology can explain everything physical – and there is nothing nonphysical.
But life, in its immaculate way, asks you to decide for your self – literally.
Graeme Meakin – last revised 18th February, 2017.