THREE ESSAYS ON THE MEANING OF LIFE
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw
So, what is “the meaning of life”?
When asked this question, most people (including most philosophers) reply with personal meanings – like: family; friendships; love; vocation; religion; patriotism; community; tribe; music; art; compassion; beauty; health; hobbies; sport; romance – in other words things which can give our, often difficult lives, some moments of meaningful purpose which make it worth living. But these essays began with the observation that our personal meanings are failing us – evidenced by the fact that too many of us are floundering in a sea of meaninglessness. So the more pressing question for philosophy has become: does this universe have any ultimate purpose which could allow our existence in it special meaning? “Ultimate purpose” being purpose above and beyond the obvious survival and genetic purposes of our animal bodies; “special meaning” being meaning above and beyond our personal meanings.
To approach these giant existential questions, in three essays we sought out the Truth of the human condition – figuring that if we could find the Truth of what/who we are (animal bodies, spiritual souls, both?) we may be able to approach what life allows us – and thus the “why” of life. Our working definition of the “T” Truth being that which is true for everybody, all the time (as opposed to our personal “t” truths – which may, or may not, be the Truth). Essay 1 explored the House of God and Essay 2 the House of Disbelief – both of which “H” Houses claim to have the Truth of the human condition within their walls – then Essay 3 explored without the walls of our Houses along The Road to Truth (which road is our lives’ experience).
To summarise their main findings briefly for this Conclusion:
Essay 1: “An Examination of the House of God” explored our Houses of God – most particularly the Christian House of God, with which we were most familiar. Our exploration found that while said Christian House of God did contain some 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 – built, as it is, upon the Holy Bible. “Holy” because said Book is supposedly written/inspired by God, however our examination found that the Bible was written by man, not God. Although possibly “inspired” in parts, there was 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 Abrahamic 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 all the surrounding tribes (followers of better gods?): Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans – 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 “T” Truths (mainly in the words which can be reliably credited to Jesus) were found to contain many dubious “t” truths (mostly in the form of incredible doctrines devised after Jesus). The Gospels are clearly contradictory in many places – such disagreements 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) – who wrote the Gospels. Also in the New Testament, 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 the various “Letters” (by Paul and others) were found to be full of doctrinising about Jesus, not by Jesus. The end result of all such Biblical doctrinising – and the copious subsequent volumes of doctrine written by the later fathers of the growing Christian House of God – was that the simple, essential, and observably capital “T” Truths which Jesus brought to us, like: Love even your enemies; Forgive rather than seek revenge; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Jesus’ own Trinity) – were diluted, sometimes totally obscured, under bushels of devout god-inveigling bumph.
Not only were Jesus’ Truths obscured by the Bible, but all the contradictions between the Gospels and all the various doctrinising in the Letters led to many different interpretations among the followers of Jesus – thus differing beliefs/denominations – which, in turn, led to much subsequent evil in the name of Jesus (the burning of disagreeing “heretics”; Inquisitions which tortured dissenters to death; bloody inter-denominational warfare). Coupled with the other evils flowing from “Christianity” (murderous crusades; anti-Jewish pogroms; paedophilia, etc.) and from other followers of the Abrahamic god (Islamic terrorism, Jewish suppression of the Palestinians, etc.) led many to doubt that there is any “G” God, or any purpose and meaning to life other than animal survival.
But also there were, and are, many good people in the Christian House of God – who managed to receive Jesus’ message of love, forgiveness, and doing good unto others despite the murderous power game that the establishment of “Christianity” became in some places. Such truly Christian people over the years softened the brutal Roman Empire, civilised the wild tribes of Europe like the Saxons, Goths, Vikings – and contributed much to their own societies by the way of the first charities for the needy, hospitals for the sick, refuges – and the founding of Europe’s major universities. In more recent times Christianity provided schools for the working classes, orphanages, and – 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 State despotism) and the many individual rights and freedoms that we in the West now take for granted – were either initiated by, or strongly supported by, the Christian House of God. Also the Christian House of God has provided much in the way of overseas medical missionaries and famine relief.
However, our examination of the Christian House of God, noted 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 those good things it 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.). It’s time to re-discover and continue Jesus’ drive to reform religion – “You have heard it said…but I say unto you…” – rather than abandon it. Years of bad theism have left humanity in the dangerous position where our technological evolution far exceeds our spiritual evolution – we have atom bombs but incredible theisms with brutal gods – just as years of bad atheism have left us with incredible disbeliefs and brutal nihilistic materialism. Humanity has never been in greater need of Jesus’ “T” Truths of Love, Forgive, Do – and his message of human unity “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
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 that the Truth of us is that we are merely our bodies – just accidentally existing atoms, somehow chemically enlivened then mechanically evolved into humans by nature blindly selecting for random mutations which are best adapted to survival. Occupants of the House of Disbelief hold that a belief in any special meaning or ultimate purpose to our existence is ultimate vanity – any meaning our life can have must only be personal; any purposes our existence can have 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. Unsound “pillars” like: the “Problem of Evil”; materialism; scientism; determinism; reductionism; physicalism; nihilism; existentialism; neuroscientism; behaviourism; natural selectionism; Neo-Darwinism; Freudianism; atheism; relativism; postmodernism.
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 world, our examination found that our physical sciences had no understanding of the nonphysical factors in the human equation. Factors like our consciousness; our appreciation of irony and existential humour; our understanding of dignity, shame, right, and wrong; the existence of our spiritual self – observable when it is “moved”, “lifted” by the experience of non-Darwinian beauty. Our physical sciences’ only explanation for the observable existence of such nonphysical factors in the human equation is their “sonic screwdriver” (able to fix everything) – natural selection. Natural selection can explain much about our physical bodies, but does not have a clue about how (in a supposedly entirely physical universe) the above observably nonphysical factors in the human condition came to exist in an entirely physical universe – 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 the matter it understands, is like trying to describe a book in terms of its paper – you can do it – but such a description is necessarily 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 refutations of the unsound arguments that the House of God employs for the existence of its primitive “g” god. However, a pile of rubble from an unsound opposing structure does not – automatically – make a sound House in its place. Similarly, the House of Disbelief feels that to demolish the House of God’s incredible purpose and meaning of life (that life is a one-off test for eternal heaven or hell) – is to soundly establish that life has no meaning.
All up, the House of Disbelief was found to be just as incredible as it accuses the House of God being – and just as much as being about comfort for its residents. The House of Disbelief is not a search for “T” Truth, it makes no effort to hunt for, and dispose of, any big game (like what a real “G” God could be like, or credible ultimate purpose and special meaning) – it just contents itself, rather, with the cruel sport of slaying the vulnerable, slow-moving sacred cows of others (like our religions’ incredible gods and meanings/purposes of life).
Essay 3: “Along the Road to Truth”: Having found our “H” Houses to be about protecting comforting “t” truths rather than searching for any Truths there may be to our existence, we set out to explore without the walls of our Houses – along life’s winding road. We explored particularly for “T” Truths of the human condition and what any such Truths may tell us of any special meaning and ultimate purpose there may be to our existence. Again, our working definition of Truth is that which is true for everybody, all the time – i.e. 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 meet his first injunction to go all the way along said road is, ultimately, for you to decide. That said, our expedition at least tried to go all the way. We did this by exploring the mysteries and miracles of the reality/physical universe we find our selves (two words) in and the mysteries and miracles of the life within this universe – particularly human life. “Mysteries” of our physical universe like: its very existence (rather than nothing); the finely-set forces and the delicate ratios between them necessary for the universe to exist; the intelligent mathematical language the universe was written in – and the “miracles” of life like: the incredible unlikeliness of life occurring accidentally from sterile matter (the product of a billion-degree beginning) – and the mysteries and miracles of human life like: humanity (just stardust) being able to speak the aforementioned mathematical language in which the universe was written; our nonphysical consciousness and its role in the quantum enigma; nonphysical factors in the human equation like: virtues, shame, humour, ethics; our understanding of non-Darwinian beauty (form, music, art) and that we (our selves – not our bodies) are “lifted”, “moved” by such beauty and frequently seek it at the risk our supposedly selfish animal genes. Miraculous things for accidentally existing, chemically-alive, and mechanically evolved stardust to have.
In pursuit of answers to these 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 rationally conclude that the full Truth of the human condition is way beyond our physical sciences’ understanding of our physical bodies – and the meaning and purpose of our existence to be so much more than our Houses of Gods’ primitive understanding of a one-off test for eternity in heaven or hell.
So, based on all the evidence we examined in the three essays, what conclusions can we reach concerning the big questions of philosophy: Purpose; Meaning; Self; Life; Happiness; Love; Death; God; Heaven/Hell; Everything?
“Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.”
– Winston Churchill.
The purpose of anything is what it does. Our universe “does” many things, but ultimately it does creativity – this is its ultimate purpose. We too are creative. We create many things – but the ultimate thing we create is our selves.
Nothing which is creative can be meaningless – but the extent of its meaningfulness must rest in what it creates. The universe/nature is creative, creating basically meaningless physical things (like our bodies). We too are creative, also creating physical things – however we also create nonphysical things (like beauty, joy, humour, love – our selves) which allow our lives special meaning.
We have bodies but we are our self.
Life is not a test, but an opportunity – to create. We create many things of varying beauty and utility, according to our talents, but we can all create the most important/meaningful thing – our selves – by being our true self; truly knowing our self; then growing our self – until we are happy with our self.
Unnaturally humans seek to be happy (“unnaturally” because other animals just seek to be). We can get necessarily passing animal happiness through our body’s senses (“necessarily” because all tickle is no tickle) but can only get lasting happiness through our self.
Love is the key to our happiness. To be truly and lastingly happy we must be able to love our truly known self. “Know Thyself” is universal wisdom. Because we are our own harshest critics, the strongest evidence we allow that we are truly worthy of our own love is if others love us (our self/soul – not our bodily beauty, power, fame, talent, money etc.). And the true love of 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/spiritual evolution. There is plenty of evidence that we have many lives – and no evidence that we must have only one. The death of our body only proves that it is mortal – it does not prove that we are our body. Anyone who thinks having more than one life is bizarre has not stopped to think how bizarre is one life with an animal body. Voltaire put it well: “It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.” 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.
There is evidence from credible researchers into the paranormal that heaven and hell are the same place – where, in the next reality, we experience all the joys and delights, and all the pain and suffering we caused others to experience during life. True and immaculate justice.
Religion is worst thing that ever happened to God. However, while our incredible religious “g” gods prove nothing about the existence or nonexistence of any real “G” God, the many crucial forces, constants, and fine ratios involved in the initial and continuing existence of our universe (all written in an intelligent language) do speak of an intelligence necessarily higher than ours – and of an agency higher than blind chance. A “H” Higher “A” Agency is also intimated in the many numinous/spiritual experiences of life – like our nonphysical self being “lifted” “moved” by the experience non-Darwinian beauty – which we often seek, frequently at the expense of the survival of our physical animal bodies with their selfish genes.
The everything of this reality is its creativity.
HOW TO BEST LIVE?
The main role of philosophy, it has been generally recognised over the years, is to help us determine: “how to best live?” So how does this philosophy of meaning stand in that regard?
To best live is, surely, to be happiest – and this philosophy of meaning holds that to be happiest we need to be able to love our selves. And this philosophy of meaning holds that the best way to attain our own self-love is through the authorisation which is the love and respect of others. Humans commonly try certain ways to achieve said love/respect of others: fame, power, money, official status, personal bodily beauty, physical domination etc. etc. – but, also commonly, these ways tend to produce: fear, envy, resentment – any “love” so produced only lasting as long as our money, fame, power, etc. On the other hand, our expedition for Truth found that to truly, lastingly gain the love of others – we need to truly love them.
To be happiest, humanity also needs to lose the fear of death – and also to lose the sadness which flows from the death of loved-ones. This philosophy holds that we are our nonphysical self/soul – not our physical and mortal body. Further, this philosophy holds that we, and all our loved ones are not only immortal, but have many lives in this physical reality – if we so choose.
To be happiest humanity also needs to find that our existence here has ultimate purpose and that purpose has special meaning. This philosophy has found such purpose and meaning in the observable growth/evolution of our self/soul/spirit.
Fine – but is this philosophy of meaning the “T” Truth (true for everybody, all the time) – or is it just my personal “t” truth (untrue but comforting)?
Have I, and all the other members who have stayed on board this expedition for ultimate purpose and special meaning, found the Truth or just our own comforting truth?
Let’s see – let’s pick apart the above conclusions.
Creativity is, observably, what our universe ultimately does. From “nothing” (just the original energy) came all the amazing creativity we see around us. Given that the ultimate purpose of anything is what it ultimately does, creativity is the ultimate purpose of this universe. This we can hold as a “T” Truth – true for everybody, all the time – regardless of our personal “t” truths (beliefs, religions etc.). As for any special meaning to this creativity our universe, as we concluded above, such can only rest in what is created.
So what did the universe create?
The universe created us. Or rather, the universe created/evolved our physical animal bodies, which are entirely material and mortal/temporary – destined to be “dead and gone”, to return to the universe from which they came – meaningful to us while we inhabit them, but necessarily devoid of any special meaning. But is our material body “us” – are we our bodies?
The evidence we uncovered in our search for the Truth of the human condition was such that we were able to rationally conclude that we are not our bodies – we have physical, material, mortal bodies – but to describe the human condition in terms of our bodies is like trying to describe a book in terms of its paper. You can do it, as materialist-evolutionist fundamentalists try, but the description is incomplete. We observably have a physical/animal body, but we uncovered plenty of evidence that there is a nonphysical/spiritual factor in the human condition – we are a duality – human = body + self (not the Cartesian body + mind duality – undone because the mind is observably of the brain/body). Given our material body is meaningless, to determine any special meaning to our existence what we asked in our exploration for the Truth of the human condition is: does our self have a purpose, and is any such purpose especially meaningful? As above, the purpose of anything is what it does – so we had to ask: what do we do?
WHAT DO WE DO?
What our bodies do is just strive to survive (futilely). But what we, our selves, do is create and experience.
Observably we are creative – we are creative agents of the universe – it is what we do, thus a purpose. As we concluded above, any special meaning to our existence can only rest in what we create – and humanity has created many things in the course of its existence. We have created physical things devoid of special meaning, things of utility for the temporary survival of our physical animal body – but we have also created nonphysical things (like beauty) just for the enjoyment of our nonphysical selves. This is one of the proofs that our nonphysical selves exist. And there is not only proof that our selves exist, but it is observable that we, our selves, grow/evolve in the course of an existence in this reality. While we know our bodies (which includes our brains/minds) are of mechanically evolved matter; are temporary; thus have no special meaning (i.e. beyond the personal) – the above observation that our (selves’) existence in this universe with a meaningless animal body allow us to know and grow our selves – allows our lives the special meaning of self creation/growth.
Where such nonphysical selves/souls/spirits come from, to exist in an otherwise entirely physical/material universe, is one of life’s great mysteries – but there are hints in the fact that another big thing we do (thus another purpose) is that we experience the universe. We experience/enjoy the universe’s creativity (which includes our own artistic creativity) body and soul – i.e. both physically (through our animal, bodily senses) and spiritually (through our nonphysical consciousness). It is here that there are also hints of a “D” Divine – the essays considered evidence that our mysterious consciousness is an individuation of a Universal Consciousness (God?). Perhaps we, physical and nonphysical – body and soul – are how God(s?) (whatever the nature of the Divine may be) experiences the universe? But, however mysterious we/our nonphysical self may seem, 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 non-Darwinian beauties of the human arts and of the forms and colours of nature.
While our selves/consciousness may be how the Divine experiences and creates nonphysical beauty, we – our selves/souls – are evidentially spiritually evolving on this plane of existence. The extent of our evolution 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 Essay 3 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 (and its equally grand dictum) to: “Grow Thyself”. In the course of a life we will all meet many unevolved selves/souls, and many evolved and/or evolving souls (occasionally even seemingly angelic souls?).
As we saw in Essay 3, our spiritual evolution of self, determines any lasting happiness we might achieve in life (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 life’s experience gives evidence that such self/spiritual evolution has a grander ultimate purpose (“grander” than the, admittedly still grand, increased enjoyment of life that spiritual/self evolution allows) – and that is the purpose of spiritual evolution into higher realities beyond this basic Earthly relative reality.
All up, this philosophy of meaning finds the nexus between love and happiness, finds special meaning and ultimate purpose to our existence in the evolution of our selves that existence in this physical reality allows/drives, and draws the sting of death from our lives’ tail – humanity’s ultimate fear – all thus allowing us “to best Live”. But I have just mentioned that the “special meaning” I have found is spiritual evolution into “higher realities”! Is this entire philosophy a fraud – because based upon the fraudulence which is the paranormal world?
Both the House of God and the House of Disbelief would say that this philosophy of meaning can be discarded because it depends upon evidence from the paranormal.
This is a bit rich from our Houses of God, because they are all built on paranormal events – for example, the Jewish religion is built on the paranormal events surrounding Moses and many other prophets in the Old Testament; the Muslim religion is built on paranormal events surrounding Muhammad and the archangel Gabriel; the Christian religion is built on 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 validity of things nonphysical, metaphysical, paranormal/anomalous – things that our physical sciences cannot “normally” explain – is to undermine their claim to know everything (or to be on the very verge of their 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 – which purpose allows life special meaning. 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/knowledge of our self.
For many people, the idea that we may have several lives is uncertain because wooo-ooo, spooky, paranormal (i.e. not like normal experiences). But, as above, they haven’t stopped to consider how “spooky” is our “normal” experience – of our spiritual self being with a physical animal body even once. Again, Voltaire: “It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.”
As we have considered, 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 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: Ring; Parnia; Wambach). All of whom had established careers, professional standing, status – i.e. nothing to gain but plenty to lose by considering paranormal evidence seriously.
However, there is no doubt that there are many fraudulent operators/entertainers in the paranormal field who have 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 non-academic, 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 (of lands dominated by the House of God and the House of Disbelief) neither of which offer any safe landing to those of us who are observably swimming in an ever-widening sea of meaninglessness – too many of whom are presently 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 mainly used 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, considering all the above, there are many valid reasons why an expedition for special meaning and ultimate purpose to our existence should at least enter the world of the paranormal and weigh its evidence. But what sort of weight should we allow it?
SO HOW STANDS THE PARANORMAL AS EVIDENCE?
There is much in the world of the paranormal which is evidence only of the gullibility of many people. Most people who enter into the paranormal sphere (going to see mediums, buying books about it, etc.) are driven, at least to some extent, by humanity’s deepest fears (of death) and fondest wishes (for eternal life and reunion with loved ones) – therefore subject to confirmation bias and vulnerable to fraud. And there is no doubt that there are many fraudsters operating in the paranormal. However, I can’t accept that highly qualified researchers of the calibre of Professors: David Fontana; Ian Stevenson; Jim Tucker; Stafford Betty – and well-qualified medical Doctors of the calibre of Brian Weiss; Sam Parnia; Kenneth Ring; Pim van Lommel – are fraudulent, incompetent, or so stupid that they could have been fooled over many years of honest research by fraudulent tricksters. What must also be considered is the professional, monetary, and personal risks these already successful people took – they stood to lose much and gain nothing by taking paranormal phenomena seriously. While evidence is not proof, it does receive weight according to the calibre of the presenters of the evidence.
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 must 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.
Having found such, our expedition for ultimate purpose and special meaning could stop there – the purpose of our life is what it does, and life does self creation – which gives our existence special meaning. Wisely, it probably should stop there – but 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 – and there is an elephant in the living room of any philosophy of meaning: WHY?
Our exploration to discover any ultimate purpose to our universe, and any special meaning to our existence in it, has found both in creativity. The ultimate purpose of anything is what it does, and the universe, ultimately, does creativity. Such then is its ultimate purpose.
What do we do – perhaps the WHY? of us can be found in the WHAT of us? We do a few things but one big “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.”
So we have a WHY? of us (and all conscious lifeforms) – from a WHAT? of us – to be conscious of/experience the universe.
Is consciousness all we do? If not, What else do we do?
As well as consciousness, another WHAT of us is creativity, we are creative agents of the universe – so creativity is one of our purposes. As for any special meaning to our existence – again, such can only rest in WHAT? we create. We each create many things – things good, bad, ugly, and bleh – but potentially things of great beauty, great love, great utility, and great evil. And what we do/create defines us – and here rests any special meaning to our existence – self definition/creation.
So another large WHAT? of our existence is self evolution/creation – potentially our most meaningful creation because there is evidence that our self is eternal.
But again: WHY?
WHY SELF CREATION?
Our exploration found that life observably allows us self creation/growth/evolution – and it is also observable that 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 our body – entirely physical matter/atoms and energy; 2.) us having just one life on this reality; 3.) there being no realities beyond this Earthly 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.
But there is another WHAT? – what happens to the self after death? – any eternally meaningful “WHY?” would be contingent on any such post-mortem happening.
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) – founder and 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 over the period 1924-31 and 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.
So the above is an approach to the main WHY’s which commonly bedevil any philosophy of meaning. All up, there are credible WHY’s when we clearly examine the WHAT’s of our life.
But wait – there’s more! A lot of people may concede that some of the above tackles the WHY’s of life sufficiently credibly to leave a meaningful purpose to our existence as a distinct possibility – even a probability – but then lose it all in the mystery of HOW?.
How did the original Divine/God/Energy come to be/exist? How did this mysteriously-existing energy become matter? How did matter become alive? How did living matter become conscious? How did conscious matter come to have consciousness/a soul/self/an individuation of Universal Consciousness?
To answer this cascade of HOW? questions, our Houses of God rely on their ancient “B” Books – supposedly written by God (all done in six days; every animal made complete as they now stand – consciousness and all; Earth in the centre of the universe; humanity the central purpose). If questioned too closely the House of God admits that God works in mysterious ways – and it’s meant to be mysterious as a test of our faith – which is more important than knowledge.
Our House of Disbelief relies on science to answer the HOW? question: energy existed in a state of nothing then accidentally become matter which eventually became spontaneously alive then mechanically evolved into us. We are entirely accidental physical matter (with nonphysical consciousness!?) who have to make our own meanings.
Even the paranormal is dumb on the ultimate question of human curiosity: “HOW!” The closest researchers manage is that we wouldn’t understand the answer. And that’s probably the best answer. The bottom line is this – we can never know the Absolute with a mind only born of, and only experienced of – the relative. Whether that means our universe, and our existence in it, is ultimately meaningless – despite all its/our creativity – is up to you.
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; was spurred by a challenge; and obeyed two injunctions. The observation was the one I made in the Introduction to these essays: that too many of humanity, especially in the West, are floundering in a sea of meaninglessness which is bounded by two hostile shores – one hosting the House of God, and the other, the House of Disbelief. 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.
Thus challenged, we gathered the courage to swim beyond sight of our current hopeless shores – in search of new horizons – of a land which may offer “a road to Truth”. Upon discovering such a land, we set out along 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. So 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 our life’s ultimate purpose and special meaning discovered more credible evidence for the existence of such meaningful purpose than it found 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 have, above and beyond our personal meanings. As for what such ultimate purpose and special meaning is, we conclude that our ultimate purpose is to both create and to experience, and that such gives our life meaning great and small.
The purpose of anything is what it does, and experience and create is what we do. We experience this universe physically through our bodily senses and nonphysically through our consciousness – and we create things physical and nonphysical as well. We create (often small) physical things of utility to help us survive bodily and we create nonphysical things of (often great) beauty to help us thrive spiritually. We create things great and small according to our unequal talents, but life offers to all of us the opportunity to create at least one great and consequential thing – the opportunity to create/grow/evolve our eternal self. It is this self creativity which particularly allows our life special meaning.
To requote George Bernard Shaw from the beginning of this Conclusion: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
Some, whose life has been particularly hard may find this conclusion about our existence Panglossian, at best – obscene at worst. But the above conclusion is where the evidence (life itself – not some “B” Book) led our expedition for meaning. My life, for example (and like most), 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 for self-creation at all – those whose life was brief, or severely handicapped/disadvantaged? Such lives give any philosophy of meaning great pause, but our exploration found plenty of credible evidence that we have many lives, and no evidence at all that we must have only one. Evidence that we have many lives, of course, does not brush off the hurt of losing loved ones, or watching them suffer (our children especially), but can offer our lives some buoyancy if we find our selves floundering in a sea of meaninglessness as a result. As considered, 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). Some see the fact that our physical bodies are mortal – i.e. that our bodies can only have one life – as proof that we can only have one life. But our expedition examined plenty of evidence that we are not just our bodies, that the human equation has both physical and nonphysical/spiritual factors – human = body + self/soul. The fact that our nonphysical, spiritual selves mysteriously exist with a physical, mortal, animal body, once, is only proof of one thing – that such can happen – hardly proof that it must never happen again.
As for what happens to our evolving self/soul after parting with our animal body we encountered evidence that there are higher realities beyond this one – into which we can spiritually evolve when we have achieved all the self-creativity we can on this lowly plane. Those who struggle with the idea that there could be any “plane”/reality beyond this so-real one should enter into the strange, multi-dimensional world of quantum physics – Rosenblum and Kuttner (2011) a good place to start – which suggests that this, our present reality, is not as real as materialists like/need to think.
All the above we concluded through an examination of the evidence we could find along the road to Truth – evidence physical and metaphysical; normal and paranormal; natural and unnatural. However, all such evidence considered, we find that our conclusions can only be held “on the balance of probabilities” – there remains sufficient mystery and room for doubt that such cannot be held “beyond reasonable doubt”. Basically 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; if we had no choices to make because life’s path was clearly laid out and obvious; if life had no thrills and spills; no challenges, victories, defeats – life would be just a tour through a theme park – pleasant enough, but essentially meaningless. Whereas, how life is in this creative, relative (not Absolute) reality is rich in ultimate creative purpose – of self, especially – which ultimate self-creation purpose gives it special meaning. Everything in this creative reality is relative (consider, the Absolute cannot be creative) – nothing is laid out, life demands constant decisions from us, and our decisions immaculately define us – we become our choices. Once our choices become habitual – once our self is made – life allows us its big opportunity: to “Know Thyself”. If we take this big opportunity, then life offers us its ultimate opportunity/purpose: if we find are not happy with our truly known self, we are free to make higher choices – to “Grow Thyself” – self/spiritual evolution. That we are free to make such choices is evidenced by the fact that some do choose to know and grow their selves, and some evidentially don’t.
As for the mystery that is humanity’s unnatural need to be happy (cf. occasionally experiencing animal physical contentment), we discovered that we are driven to self/spiritual evolution by this unique human need to be happy – and found the only reliable way to be lastingly happy is to know and grow our self until we can 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, fame, beauty – which are held at the mercy of others and time). And self loathing invariably leads to unhappiness. 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 only ever truly attained through truly loving them. So, to be happiest – to “best live” – we should love one another (sounds a bit familiar?)
This is the Truth beyond reasonable doubt. The rest you have to decide for your self (literally).
Graeme Meakin – last revised 19th August, 2019.