THREE ESSAYS ON THE MEANING OF LIFE
“Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.”
– Winston Churchill.
In the Introduction to these essays we observed that too many of humanity are presently floundering in a sea of meaninglessness, between two hostile shores. These are the shores of the opposing lands upon which the House of God and the House of Disbelief are built – and both are “hostile” because neither offer safe landing. Faced with this dilemma, we decided that if humanity was to escape said sea of meaninglessness we needed to gather the courage to accept William Faulkner’s challenge: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Thus it was that we swam bravely off for some “new horizons”, beyond sight of our present hopeless shores, to search for evidence of credible meaning and purpose to our existence.
How did we go – did we manage to swim beyond the lands bounding our sea meaninglessness – and find the meaning of life in a new land? If so, what is it?
“The meaning of life” – finding such is probably philosophy’s most important task. Most people, even most philosophers, when asked this question answer with things like: love; family; friendship; vocation; religion; patriotism; music; art; compassion; beauty; health; community; various hobbies; sport; etc. etc. – in other words we proffer personal meanings – things which we personally find meaningful in life. Generally all good, meaningful things but the most pressing existential question for humanity is: does our existence in this reality have any special meaning (any meaning that all our lives share – above and beyond the personal meanings which most of us find or construct). This question is “most pressing” because our personal meanings are failing us more and more – as we considered in the Introduction: observably, not only are an increasing amount of us swimming in a sea of meaninglessness, but more and more of us are drowning – witness our growing drug, alcohol, and youth suicide problems.
Driven by this observation, we began an expedition to explore for any observable ultimate purpose there may be to this reality we find ourselves in – then asked: does such purpose have any special meaning available to us all? “Ultimate purpose” we defined as any purpose life offers all of us above and beyond the ultimately meaningless animal and genetic purposes of our mortal, physical bodies.
Our expedition firstly examined our belief systems (our “H” Houses of God and our House of Disbelief) to find why so many find them hostile to credible purpose and meaning, then we explored a new land beyond the walls of our Houses – for any Truths that we could find there. We hunted for the Truths of the physical universe, and for the Truths of the human condition (“T” Truth we defined as: that which is true for everybody all the time; i.e. above and beyond our personal, comforting “t” truths – which truths may or may not be the Truth). We explored for such Truths – and any implied ultimate purpose and special meaning – in three essays:
Essay 1 (“An Examination of the House of God”) explored religion – our Houses of God – which have always claimed to hold the Truth of the human condition and of life’s purpose and meaning within their walls. We examined, particularly, the Christian House of God (with which we were most familiar) and found that, while said House did contain some “T” Truths for us (mainly in the words of Jesus) it was largely an unsound place to dwell because its foundations were insecurely laid on an incredible and contradictory Book – the Bible. While supposedly written/inspired by God, the “Holy” Bible was examined and found to be entirely human – its Old Testament containing false cosmology; incorrect biology; largely mythical history; and an unbelievable, male, brutal, ethnic cleansing, jealous, needy, sexist, and parochial god of one chosen people (those who invented him) – which “g” god was spectacularly unsuccessful in protecting said “chosen” Jewish tribes who were repeatedly defeated and subjugated by every neighbouring and passing tribe (Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Turks – to name a few) – and eventually dispersed from their “promised land” in an always insecure, and frequently cruel, Diaspora. We then examined the New Testament of the Bible, also supposedly Divinely inspired/written, and an impeccably accurate record of Jesus’ life, words, and actions – but found it to be comprised of contradictory Gospels and letters. Such disagreements about what Jesus said and did apparently driven by the differing factions (Jewish, Gentile, Gnostic, etc.) which arose among Jesus’ followers after his death. These factions seemed to be more motivated to proselytise their differing beliefs about Jesus, than in accurately perpetuating the simple but essential, and observabl,e Truths which he brought for us – like: Love (one another); Forgive (turn the other cheek); Do (unto others as you would have them do unto you).
Apart from the varying motives of the Gospel writers we found further muddying of the waters of Truth in the very human process of writing and assembling the New Testament – which happened over a long period well after the death of Jesus. It took a long time to not only write the Gospels, but also for the contents of the Christian Bible to be finally agreed upon. During this time, the four Gospels it now contains were not only selected (there were many more than four written), but edited by various House of God fathers and clerics who were seemingly more concerned with the doctrinising involved with building a “H” House, than they were concerned with conveying the “T” Truths of Jesus. In this way, the eventually compiled Bible drowns the baby of Jesus’ apparent Truths in gallons of muddy, religious bathwater. This doctrinal watering down of Jesus, and the decision to attach the brutal, Old Testament, Abrahamic god onto the “Christian” Bible, led to the many evils which were perpetrated over the years by this supposedly Christian House of God. Such evils were (and continue to be) chief among the main reasons why most of the educated world has turned from a belief in any real “G” God – just as the incredibility of the House of God’s supposedly meaningful purpose of life (that it is a one-off test for eternity in heaven or hell) has turned many against the belief that life could have any purpose or meaning at all (this leading us into meaninglessness could perhaps be our Houses of Gods’ eventual greatest sin if we wipe ourselves out as a species?).
While our examination concentrated on the Christian House of God most of our findings applied to all Houses of God similarly founded upon an ancient, brutal god and/or upon a Book of supposedly Divine origin – but actually edited/written/protected by religious officers to authorise and institutionalise their power.
All that said, amongst the “t” truths, some Truths were found in the Bible – especially Jesus’ injunctions to: Love (even our enemies); Forgive (as we want to be forgiven); Do (good unto others – don’t just avoid doing bad). Undeniable “T” Truths – true for everybody – all the time (if we plan to survive as a species). While I personally believe that Jesus said these words, they remain Truths – whether Jesus actually said them or not. As for the Truth about Jesus (man, God, both?) the only things which our examination found, that we can know for sure, is that Jesus was a brave and spiritual man who tried to reform his religion (“You have heard it said…but I say unto you…) and that he was killed not by “the Jews” or the Romans, but by religion – specifically by his religion’s high priests in an effort to protect their power. We can also know that something paranormal happened after his execution to turn his previously cowardly disciples into brave believers, prepared to die for him – evidenced by the religion which they formed in his name which endures to this day (but which religion also became corrupted when it came into power, itself).
Another “T” Truth our exploration found, is that the only Truth we are sure to find in our “B” Books, is the Truth of our selves (two words) – in the shape of the God and meaning that we find.
All that said, while our Houses of God were found to be more “Houses of Man”, more temporal than spiritual – more about: power (over people); status (of office bearers); animal comfort (of control over death and the vagaries of misfortune) – we also found that there are spiritual aspects to them. Certainly religion has inspired much beauty in the shape of art, music, and buildings – but just as certainly there is beauty in some of the people who make up the congregations and officers of our Houses of God – who can be truly described as good, spiritual people. Because of these people, more good than evil has been done over the years by our Houses of God – not only for individuals but for the civilisation and education of our societies.
This essay mainly examined our religious Houses, meanings, and gods – Essay 3 was more concerned with any evidence of a real “G” God.
Essay 2 (“An Examination of the House of Disbelief”) examined the soundness of the House of Disbelief – which, like the House of God, also likes to believe that it houses the Truth of the human condition – specifically that there is no special meaning or ultimate purpose to our existence (and no God).
While our examination found that said House’s foundations were sound (mainly the Truths of our physical sciences) we also found that upon these foundations have been built unsound philosophical pillars. “Pillars” like: the problem of evil; materialism; scientism; determinism; reductionism; physicalism; nihilism; existentialism; neuroscientism; behaviourism; natural selectionism; Neo-Darwinism; atheism; relativism; post modernism. Such are mainly materialist fundamentalisms, which would have us believe: that the Universe just “emerged” from a state of nothing (accidentally); life just emerged spontaneously (chemically); we just evolved (mechanically); via nature selecting (blindly); for survival-favouring mutations (randomly occurring) – all indicating that we are necessarily devoid of any ultimate purpose, and therefore our existence does not have any special meaning beyond our personal meanings. The House of Disbelief believes that, united, the physical sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology are on the verge of an indisputable physical/mechanical Theory of Everything.
However, our examination found that said House of Disbelief had no true understanding of how the observably nonphysical factors in the human equation came to exist in a totally material universe – their only explanation being the usual argument that such must be due to natural selection – without having the first clue about how (in a supposedly entirely physical universe) the many things observably nonphysical in the human condition came to be in existence – in the first place – to be so selected by nature, in the second place.
Our examination also found that the supposedly compelling arguments of the House of Disbelief against the existence of any “G” God are, instead, just sound refutations of the unsound arguments that the House of God employs for the existence of its primitive “g” god. While two diametrically opposed positions can’t both be right, they can both be wrong – and this is a good example – our exploration found that both the House of God and the House of Disbelief base their argument about the existence of God around only the Abrahamic god of the Old Testament – as if this is the only possible “G” God. The acceptance of this god by both parties means that all the House of Disbelief has to do is the easy task of demolishing said Biblical “g” god – in order to demolish any “G” God. Similarly, the House of Disbelief’s arguments against the House of God’s purpose and meaning of life (that life is a one-off test for eternal heaven or hell) – especially the House of Disbelief’s arguments stemming from the “Problem of Evil” – are held to be sound refutations of the existence of any and all ultimate purpose and special meaning of our existence. All up, our examination of the House of Disbelief found that the only thing concrete about the House of Disbelief is the rubble it has made of the House of God – but you need more than a pile of rubble from an unsound building, to form a sound one in its place.
The House of Disbelief was also found to be just as much about comfort for its own residents, as it accuses the House of God being for its members. Comfortable in its disbelief, it makes no effort to hunt for, and bag, big game – like a real “G” God. Nor does it search for a real ultimate purpose and special meaning – visible in our universe’s unexplainable miracles and mysteries (consciousness, quantum enigma – anyone?) – instead of hunting for such difficult and dangerous game (dangerous for its residents’ comfort) the House of Disbelief settles instead for the easy and cruel sport of slaughtering the sacred cows of those who are religious.
Having found that both our “H” Houses are fundamentalisms concerned with winning the argument for their comforting “t” truths, rather than finding “T” Truths which could be inconvenient, Essay 3 (“Along the Road to Truth”) set out to explore the new horizons of a land beyond the blinkering walls of both for any Truths that we could find.
Although I am not a Buddhist (nor I like to think an anythingelseist) the title for the third essay was taken from one of Buddha’s sayings: “There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth – not going all the way, and not starting”. So, by starting we at least managed to obey his second injunction, but whether we managed to obey his first to go all the way along said road is, ultimately, for you to decide. All I can say is that our expedition explored the mysteries of our physical universe and the miracles of the human condition. “Mysteries” of our physical universe like: the incredible unlikeliness of something (rather than nothing); the incredible unlikeliness of life (from an inert, necessarily sterile, billion-degree beginning); the essential role of consciousness in the existence of matter; the intelligent mathematical language the universe was written in. And “miracles” of the human condition like the fact that we, just a blindly produced product of the universe, can speak the aforementioned mathematical language in which it was written; the existence of nonphysical factors in the human equation like virtues, shame, ethics; our understanding of the beauty of non-Darwinian form, music, art; the existence of our nonphysical self and the pivotal role of being able to love that self to our happiness; the fact of us (supposedly just atoms) having consciousness; the fact of our humour; the fact of the existence of our spiritual needs (the satisfying of which “lifts” us – not our atoms – and how we frequently spend our Darwinian survival capital, and risk our supposedly selfish animal genes, to meet such spiritual needs. And more.
In pursuit of such miracles and mysteries we baulked at nothing – we explored the unnatural as well as the natural; the metaphysical as well as the physical; the paranormal as well as the normal. All up, we uncovered sufficient credible evidence that the human condition is to be so much more than the House of Disbelief’s supposedly accidentally existing, chemically alive, and mechanically evolving physical matter of our bodies – and so much more than the House of God’s worshipper of a primitive, brutal, human god. And that such “more” allows our existence to have an ultimate purpose – beyond our body’s animal purposes, and the largely venal purposes of our religions – which ultimate purpose, in turn, allows our existence special meaning beyond our own, personal meanings.
So, considering the findings of the three essays together – what answers do we have to the big questions of philosophy: Purpose, Meaning, Life, Happiness, Love, Death, God, Everything?
To quote Churchill, out of the “intense complexities” that these questions represent, the following “intense simplicities” have emerged:
The purpose of anything is what it does and relativity does creativity. Relativity “does” creativity by allowing the existence of relatively good, better, best – which allows creation through selection for best – evolution. Nature selects for relatively best genetic mutations, thereby creating/evolving our physical bodies, and we select for which of our behaviours make us relatively happiest about our selves – thereby creating/evolving our nonphysical selves. We are and become – our behaviours – we are not our matter.
Nothing which is creative can be meaningless – the extent of its meaningfulness resting in what it creates. Nature is creative, but creates things physical – which, under the law of entropy, must return to component atoms – thus things which are ultimately meaningless (for example, our bodies). We are also creative, we create things physical which can be meaningful (for example, things of utility or sensual pleasure) and we can create things nonphysical (beauty, joy, humour) – but the most ultimately meaningful thing we can create is our selves.
Life is not a test of our selves – but an opportunity to create them. We do this by firstly being our true self; then coming to truly know our self; then growing our self – until we are happy with our self. We are driven to do this by humanity’s unnatural need to be happy – only truly met by being happy with self – and that only truly met when we are able to love our self.
Our body gets necessarily passing animal happiness/contentment via the pleasing of its senses – “necessarily” because all tickle is no tickle; you have to be thirsty to get happiness from drinking; hungry to get pleasure from eating; etc. Any happiness derived from personal beauty is insecure – at constant risk of age and misfortune. Happiness from fame, power, status, money is in the hands of others. Only happiness with self can be lasting because it is the only source of happiness totally within our control.
True love (i.e. not conceit) of true self (i.e. not some image of our animal ego) is key to our happiness. Such honest and true self love is problematic because we are our own harshest judges – but we do allow that we are truly worthy of our own love if others truly love us (i.e. our self/soul – not our bodily beauty, power, fame, talent, money etc.). Love from others is only ever truly achieved by truly loving them – everybody loves those who love them.
Death is just the end of one opportunity for self creation/growth/evolution. There is plenty of evidence that we have many lives – and no evidence that we must have only one. That our nonphysical self exists with a physical animal body is only proof of one thing: that such can happen – hardly proof that it must never happen again. If it can happen, it will. Voltaire put it well: “It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.”
The Truths and many good deeds of our religions do not prove the existence of a “G” God – just as the incredibility of their “g” gods and their many evils do not disprove any real God. However, the crucial dimensions, forces, and finely calibrated ratios of our universe (all written in an intelligent mathematical language) speak of an intelligence higher than us. There is also evidence of something beyond an entirely material description of our universe in the existence of nonphysical factors in the human equation – for example, our nonphysical selves, which can be spiritually (not physically) “moved”, “lifted” by nonphysical things like beauty, for example.
The everything of this relative reality is its creativity. The Absolute is absolute – necessarily non-creative – thus purposeless and meaningless.
So, is the above the Truth of the human condition – or have we just found our own, comforting “t” truths?
The House of God would say we have failed – because little of what we concluded agrees with their “B” Book (which must be the “T” Truth, because having been written by/inspired by – God). And the House of Disbelief would also say that we have failed because there can be no ultimate purpose or special meaning to life which just occurred (spontaneously, chemically) in a universe which, itself, just occurred accidentally (and from a state of nothing). And both Houses would say that this philosophy of meaning can be discarded because it depends upon evidence from the paranormal.
THIS PHILOSOPHY DEPENDS ON THE PARANORMAL?
Not so. Two of the main tenets of this philosophy: 1.) that we are our nonphysical self rather than our physical body; 2.) that life is observably an opportunity to be, know, and grow said self – are not deduced from paranormal phenomena but are based on evidence from normal life experience. These two tenets, alone, can support a reasonably strong and rational argument for special meaning and ultimate purpose to our existence. But such argument does become stronger if evidence that we have many lives is allowed. As we considered in Essays 2 & 3, the House of Disbelief’s strongest argument against special meaning and purpose is the “Problem of Evil”, which argument is seriously weakened if we have many lives – as is the House of God’s meaning of life (a once-off test for eternity in heaven or hell). And the evidence for many lives which we relied on came from academic and medical research (Stevenson and Tucker, Wambach, Weiss).
That said, there are other some further findings of this philosophy which have flowed from, or are strengthened by, paranormal evidence and research – e.g.: that there are higher planes of reality beyond this or present relative reality; that our self evolves through these increasingly beautiful planes; towards our eventual reunion with the Divine/Absolute from which we came – do not form the basis of our expedition’s philosophy of meaning but, rather, serve to approach a possible answer to the “WHY?” question – the elephant in the living room of all philosophies of meaning. Even if we conclude there is enough observable evidence to reasonably state that life allows us the opportunity to be, know, and grow our self – the big “WHY” question remains – and this expedition did undertake to go all the way along the road to Truth.
It was thus that we entered the world of the paranormal. While our expedition for Truth selected its paranormal sources carefully for credibility, expertise, and non-fraudulence – for some, that this philosophy seriously considers evidence from the paranormal, at all, serves to taint the whole of it – because they regard such evidence as belonging to/coming from an, at best, uncertain and subjective paranormal world – or, at worst, a totally fraudulent “world”. Essay 3 considers at length the reasons for, and risks of, entering the paranormal, but we will reprise a little of such considerations here for those starting with the Conclusion (something I often do myself – and as I advised in the Introduction).
WHY THE PARANORMAL?
Essay 3 accepted Buddha’s 2 challenges – to not only start on the road to Truth, but to go all the way along it. To this end, the so-called “paranormal” being part of human experience, we considered that it had to be explored if we are to go all the way towards finding any full Truth of the human condition.
However, there are dangers (especially to our expedition’s credibility) in exploring the land of the paranormal – brought about not only by downright fraudulence and disinformation, but also by well-meaning misinformation and incompetence. All potentially leading us, not only intellectually into bad philosophy, but personally up the garden path (into the arms of nice men in white coats?). All of which makes our choice of non-fraudulent guides, and well-qualified researchers absolutely essential.
THE PARANORMAL AND HOW WE APPROACHED IT
In our exploration of the paranormal we were thus careful to confine ourselves to researchers and experiencers who mainly had academic qualifications and professional experience in their field. Most importantly, we tried to select those researchers (often scientists or medical doctors) who had already achieved much in life – by way of personal integrity and respect, professional status, and financial sufficiency – before they went into the paranormal field. In other words they had much more to lose, than gain, by indulging in any fraudulence. Your typical frauds, on the other hand, start with nothing – thus have nothing to lose, but plenty to gain (usually money, status, power, fame etc.). There is also the risk of being derailed by our own confirmation bias.
THE RISK OF CONFIRMATION BIAS
Much information from the paranormal is attractive, not just to the recently bereaved (who commonly go there in search of comfort) but also attractive and comforting to ordinary folk as well – for example, information of: our self’s survival of bodily death; reunion with loved ones; higher and more beautiful realities beyond our present one, etc..
RISKS WORTH TAKING
We considered the risks of outer and inner deception much reduced by our mindfulness of such and by our criteria for those whom we allowed as credible and qualified guides. All up, we considered the philosophical risks worth taking – even the finding of one true para-phenomenon (of, say, realities beyond this Earthly one; or of one communication with a surviving consciousness) could have huge philosophical implications – demolishing both materialist and religious fundamentalist models of the universe. Then a whole new world of “T” Truth and meaning is opened up to 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 we go?
ONE WHITE CROW?
Our expedition found, in fact, several “white crows” – credible evidence of: the existence of our nonphysical self/soul/consciousness; that self’s survival of bodily death; realities beyond this Earthly one – all from rational, already successful, qualified and respected academic professionals from various, different areas of research into the paranormal (e.g. NDE’s; mediums; ITC; past-life recall).
In the field of past lives researchers of the calibre of Professors Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker, Dr. Brian Weiss, and Dr. Helen Wambach. In the field of séances and mediums researchers of the calibre of Professor David Fontana and Professor Stafford Betty. On the phenomenon of NDE’s researchers of the calibre of Dr. Sam Parnia, Dr. Pim van Lommel, and Dr. Kenneth Ring. In ITC – researchers like Professor Ernst Senkowski and Anabela Cardoso – to mention a few of the best in each field. We also considered general researchers of things paranormal from the past – of the calibre of Professor William James, Sir William Crookes, Professor Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr. F. W. H. Myers, Dr. Robert Crookall, Lord Dowding, Professor Sir William Barrett, Professor James Hyslop – and many general researchers belonging to the British and the American Societies for Psychical Research.
While members of this expedition are necessarily banned from personally entering the paranormal (if we are to keep our intellectual distance and neutrality) I personally found Professor Stafford Betty’s experience and summary of the better mediumistic evidence (“The Afterlife Unveiled”, 2010) and Professor David Fontana’s experience and meta-analysis of the evidence from several fields of the paranormal (“Is There An Afterlife”, 2005) good, non-ideological places to start. While I have never personally sought an encounter with the paranormal, I am aware of the experiences of some credible friends, but such experiences related by friends can only be regarded as evidential to the receiver – with a personal weight only – and entirely dependant on the credibility of said friends.
MAIN PARANORMAL FINDINGS?
All up, the better researchers from different fields of paranormal (mainly parapsychology) confirmed each other on certain salient findings: 1.) that a spiritual self exists independent of the physical body; 2.) which self survives the death of our animal body; 3.) that we can have multiple lives if such are needed for our spiritual evolution; 4.) that there are other realities beyond this one into which we spiritually evolve when ready; 5.) that spiritual growth/evolution continues into higher and higher planes of existence.
The evidence supporting these findings is mainly in Essay 3.
There is also developing evidence from “normal” science, supporting the above.
“NORMAL” SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT FOR THE PARANORMAL?
There is an increasing amount of normal/orthodox scientific work being done on psychic phenomena, like mental telepathy, ESP, psychoimmunology, PSD, NDE’s, psychokinesis, etc. – which when added to the discoveries of quantum mechanics – make the lines between what is paranormal or “normal” not as distinct as materialist members of the House of Disbelief like to believe. This from neuroscientist Dr. Mario Beauregard (Assistant Professor at the Neuroscience Research Centre, University of Montreal):
“Materialist scientists and philosophers are also led to consider certain phenomena such as psi, NDE, and mystical experiences as anomalous. These phenomena are anomalous only to the extent that we cling to the false assumptions of scientific materialism. Seen and understood through the lens of quantum mechanics, most of these phenomena do not appear anomalous at all. So-called paranormal events are, in effect, perfectly normal…The time has come for my colleagues to embrace the many possibilities of the universe opened by the new physics and free their minds from the shackles and blinders of the scientific materialist credo. ”
“Brain Wars”, Mario Beauregard. P. 212
We will have a bit more of a look at the implications of quantum physics in a moment (and a little look at just what we accept as “normal” and/or “paranormal”) – but here we need to consider the evidence that the materialist “S” Sceptics of anything paranormal rely on?
OF SCEPTICS AND SCEPTICISM?
As stated, given the fraudulence of some denizens of the paranormal, a sceptical approach is essential for any exploration for T” Truths in the paranormal field. However, reading the prominent critics of everything paranormal reveals that there are many who are “S” Sceptics – almost always fundamentalist materialists who believe that everything is comprised of, and can be reduced to – its fundamental physical bits: matter/energy. Such materialists believe that they are on the verge of a physical Theory of Everything – which will explain any and every aspect of the human condition in terms of physics, chemistry, and biology – viz.: we are just matter (physics); made spontaneously alive (chemistry); then evolved mechanically into us (biology). There is plenty of fundamentalism in evidence among this Theory’s devotees: “There is only physics, all the rest is stamp-collecting” (Rutherford); “Physics can explain everything” (Hawking); Feynman felt that even philosophy was only suitable for “cocktail parties”.
Apart from their blustering assertions about being able to “explain everything” using physics, what hard evidence do Sceptics rely on to dismiss anything nonphysical – especially the paranormal?
EVIDENCE AGAINST ACCEPTING ANY PARANORMAL EVIDENCE?
Essay 3 examined the evidence most commonly put forward by “S” Sceptics as disproof of paranormal phenomena, and found that there are five common arguments upon which they rely:
1.) Some operators in the paranormal have been proven to be fraudulent – claiming to be mediums and psychics but caught using such methods as “cold calling” techniques etc. to bluff people into thinking that they are communicating with the “other side”.
2.) There have been different descriptions of what happens after death and what the afterlife is like – if the “afterlife” is true, then every account of it should be exactly the same.
3.) Some of the information received from even the best mediums is sometimes wrong.
4.) Honest believers in the paranormal are subject to confirmation bias – their judgement affected by what confirms their 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:
Fake operators using techniques like cold calling (starting off with a series of broad statements, some of which are bound to be true for some people in the audience, then focussing in on those: “I’m getting a message from someone called Bob, I can feel chest pains, etc., etc.”) – are actually cynical performers, not the spiritual people they claim to be – making a lot of money from the needy and bereaved by supplying them with simple, longed-for messages (“I have just spoken to your departed husband and he survives, and is OK – he sends his love and is waiting for you.” etc. etc.) The sometime “hits” of such performers are remembered, their “misses” wilfully forgotten by those in need of comfort.
While it is a fact that there are plenty of fraudulent “mediums” and “psychics” – possibly even the majority are – must this necessarily prove that all paranormal operators and phenomena are fraudulent? Can there be “one white crow”?
The information received by those mediums who were accepted as genuine by the researchers we used as guides into the paranormal, went way beyond such simple stuff as the circus performers, above – into arcane, complex, spiritual and metaphysical content – often conveying very personal information unknown to anybody other than the (often anonymous to the medium) séance sitter. Many of the more highly regarded mediums sought no fame/notoriety (and often charged no money) – and were in a trance (i.e. not being able to question – thus elicit any information from the sitter – through cold calling or any other trickery). The séances which our researchers accepted as genuine and credible evidence for survival of self/spirit and the existence of other realities, were closely watched for fraud by experts – for example, the scientifically qualified observers at the remarkable Scole séances (where a magician was also used to look for any tricks). Some other mediums tested by the more rigorous members of the SPR, and eventually accepted as genuine, were closely watched 24 hours a day to see if they were indulging in any fraudulent information-gathering (one of the best, Leonora Piper, was closely watched for long periods over some months, even years – once to the extent of being made to live in the investigator’s house during the course of a series of séances (often with sitters anonymous to her) – and had any mail she received opened. It must also be remembered that in Piper’s day there was no such thing as the ready information about people that we have these days via the internet etc. Despite all this Piper was able, for years, to pass on lots of arcane, secret, highly personal information from people who had died and were now in another reality. For Professor William James, Piper was his “one white crow”. All up, the researchers we relied on were not fools – nor recently bereaved – but highly educated, and much too experienced in the paranormal to mistake charlatans for genuine mediums.
Most of us expect that if there is an afterlife reality, it must just be the one reality on the one plane which can be fully explored and known – like our Earthly plane/reality. There is also the expectation that if our consciousness survives death, then everything about any next reality (and any God) is automatically known to us at once. However, neither is the case – from the most reliable sources, there are several planes of reality existing after this one. Those who communicate with us mostly report existing on the next plane, and only have limited experience about the higher planes. What they do experience/learn of such they find hard to describe with Earth words. Higher beings who have evolved sufficiently to exist on higher planes, reportedly have passed on from Earthly connections and concerns and seldom communicate.
Also some alleged paranormal experiences (like NDE’s) are not such 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 of the body/brain, not paranormal/spiritual experiences of another reality – and are most often discrepant experiences. Sceptics see such discrepancies between these alleged NDE’s as disproof of all real NDE’s – arguing that all “after death” experiences 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 beyond this one. Such NDE’s also commonly concurring on a next reality of great beauty; intense feelings of non-judgemental love; a life review; the presence of higher beings.
A reason for discrepancies between real NDE’s is that experiencers have different educational levels and cultural expectations – higher beings encountered during NDE’s are usually given different earthly names according to the religious expectations of the experiencer (e.g. Jesus, Buddha, etc.). Researchers have also found that NDE experiencers can encounter, initially, those personal expectations which he/she had in life – for example: nothing, hell, conventional heaven – leading to differing reports of “the other side”. It must be remembered that NDE’s are necessarily brief and sketchy – resulting in information which is vastly less detailed than that from other paranormal means.
Sometimes some of the information received through even the best mediums is wrong. It must be considered whether this outweighs the sheer volume of correct, private, and arcane information which has been supplied by mediums over the years (often to sitters anonymous to the mediums). Masses of such private, personal information has been delivered by mediums after no cold-calling fishing expedition (often from a medium who is in a trance therefore cannot elicit information from the sitter). As Professor William James noted, just as there only has to be one “white crow” to disprove all crows are black – there only has to be one genuine message from a surviving spirit/soul/self in another reality beyond ours to prove survival of spirit/soul/self after bodily death and the existence of subsequent realities to this Earthly one. The Society for Psychical Research (comprised mainly of highly credentialed, often originally “S” Sceptic – researchers – not Spiritualists) found many white crows – the most evidential being phenomena called the “cross correspondences”, and others called “book tests”. The correspondences were in the form of bits of information sent through various individual mediums (who were not in contact with each other) – arcane information only making sense to, and of personal significance to, those to whom it was sent – and that only when all the various bits through various mediums were considered together. Book tests were information sent through mediums of the obscure location of certain books and the page number of certain obscure information therein. Hundreds of these book tests were successfully carried out by researchers.
As for the occasional wrong communication via mediums – even the best, correct-way-beyond-chance mediums, are human beings with only human brains – and often only fair average language abilities. Some communicators from “the other side” complain that getting information to even the best mediums is difficult at times – one described it as sometimes like “trying to dictate words to an obtuse secretary through a shut, frosted-glass window”.
Sceptics believe that anyone of academic repute who has come to believe that paranormal and/or spiritual phenomena are “real” must have fallen victim of confirmation bias – they are humans, after all – it is only human to seek comforting confirmation of prejudices and/or needs. However, it must be seriously considered whether the “S” Sceptics’ approach is disconfirmation bias? Such Sceptics have such a fundamentalist Disbelief that they only ever approach paranormal evidence to discover the necessary fraud which must exist – and they find the proof of fraud in any slightest, theoretical possibility that such could exist. Their analysis of the remarkable Scole séances being a good example (the Scole séances are available on the internet for you to make your own mind up about.)
Stems from the assertion of materialists that if anything cannot be proven (nor disproven) to exist by physical science methods – then it cannot exist. This is a fundamentalist viscous circle – insisting that the nonphysical cannot exist because it is not empirically provable by physical means! However, while we can’t produce a lump of the self to be measured or felt – we can feel our said self being “moved”, “lifted”, “inspired” by beauty, for example – which nonphysical beauty we also can’t weigh on scales or heat over a Bunsen burner on a laboratory bench.
Sceptics usually try to disparage the mystery of our understanding and appreciation of nonphysical beauty with dogma like: “beauty exists only in the eye of the beholder”. Essay 3 considers the mystery of our understanding and appreciation of beauty at some length – here, we will just consider Darwin’s observation that some nonphysical part of us (our self) can be affected by something nonphysical – in his case, the beauty of a dangerous jungle (i.e. dangerous to the survival of our supposedly selfish genes) – which observation led him to the “conviction that there is more in man than the breath of his body”:
“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
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).
As considered, doubt, ”s” scepticism – is good, anyone can “make stuff up” and if we believed everything that we are told, but can’t touch, then we would be easily and frequently mislead – and as a species we would not be as successful. Philosophic materialism serves a purpose – and was thus probably naturally selected. But is our sensual proof of normal matter’s existence axiomatic disproof of everything, paranormal?
Materialists have to say so, because they hold that anything/everything, to exist, must be of matter – real, palpable, normal. For them, absence of physical, material proof is as good as disproof of existence. But if we are to use such a material ruler to measure the reality of anything/everything, we first need to have a look at the reality of said material ruler.
JUST HOW REAL IS NORMAL MATTER?
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, occupying 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? As we considered in Essay 2, evolutionists believe that everything about us 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 (studies have shown that brain damage can affect our mind) but what if the material brain is just a physical tool (which can be broken) – just a transceiver for consciousness? Which consciousness/soul/self is more truly “us” than our bodies – 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.
Evidence from a physical scientist which supports the key finding from our consideration of “paranormal” phenomena: that we, our nonphysical consciousness – our real self – survive physical death.
NORMALITY Vs. PARANORMALITY?
So, what’s more real then: 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 information sent through a medium by Dr. F.W.H. Myers (founder of the Society for Psychical Research) after his death to fellow members of the S.P.R. – that the next reality which awaits us is the actual, real one: being “the original of the earth”. Myers described our world as being only “an ugly smudged copy”.
SHADES OF PLATO?
The above communication from Myers evokes shades of Plato’s cave dwellers, who took the shadows of the real world outside which were cast on their cave wall to be the real world – such 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) – which means, although we are in an observably cause-and-effect universe, all is effect and no cause.
· All the fine settings of the forces, ratios, constants, etc. which allowed the universe to come accidentally into existence (and continue to exist into the teeth of natural entropy) happened by chance – even though such forces etc. are written in an intelligent language (and the “chance” is trillions-upon-trillions-to-one against such fine settings all happening together by accident).
· We can speak that intelligent mathematical language even though it is not necessary to survive (no other animal can speak it).
· Life – the emergence of the organic from inorganic matter (produced by a sterile, billion-degree big bang) – and the subsequent emergence of RNA and DNA – also just happened accidentally, chemically (the chance of such again being in the trillions-to-one against).
· This original, entirely physical single-cell life then mechanically evolved into many lifeforms because of random physical changes (accidental mutations) to its physical matter. Some of these physical changes somehow eventually caused one lifeform to have nonphysical characteristics – like: dignity; humour; understanding and appreciation of beauty (the experience of the latter often “lifting”, “moving” some nonphysical part of that lifeform.) Further, that lifeform often exhibiting such a need to be so lifted, moved – stronger than its drive to survive – evidenced by frequently risking its body with its cargo of selfish genes in that endeavour.
· The above lifeform reached the top of the food chain although having a sense of right and wrong, altruism, charity, shame.
There are also other mysteries in our physical universe – consider 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, dark matter 27% – and normal matter the remainder (approx. 5%). The first thing we need to consider is: the matter which we can see (which includes the matter of which we are comprised) – and which we call “normal” – only represents 5% of the universe?
Is the rest the “paranormal” world?
Consider some of the information received by researchers into the paranormal. Communicators from the next realities which apparently await us after bodily death report that our astral bodies are still of matter/energy (although less dense) – as are the worlds to come. These worlds are of massive size and comprised of several levels or planes in/around/beyond the Earthly one. A good account of the physics of the next realities are to be found in “The Afterlife Unveiled” by Professor Stafford Betty – a credible, academic, non-fraudulent researcher into paranormal phenomena.
And the vast amounts of dark matter and dark energy are not the only unresolved mysteries of our physical world. Consider this also – about what quantum mechanics is telling us about our physical world, about the possibility of a reality beyond this physical reality – and about us:
A REALITY BEYOND?
“In chapter 15 we describe several contending views, interpretations, of what quantum mechanics is telling us about the physical world – and, perhaps, about us. These are all serious proposals developed with extensive mathematical analysis. They variously suggest observation creating a physical reality, the existence of many parallel worlds with each of us in each of them, a universal connectedness, the future affecting the past, a reality beyond physical reality…”
Rosenblum & Kuttner, ibid. P. 10.
Let’s see – that’s:
· “a reality beyond physical reality” (isn’t that what the researchers into the paranormal are telling us about: a reality beyond this physical reality?)
· “observation creating a physical reality” (our mysterious consciousness creates this our present reality! – why can’t it create the next realities?)
· “many parallel worlds” (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)?
· “a universal connectedness”? (paranormal sources also inform us of a universal consciousness – the unity of everything).
All up, the above implications of quantum physics and of the existence of vast amounts dark matter and energy, form evidence for the existence of realities beyond this one – just as much as our experience of the existence of (“undark”, but still mysterious to us) present matter forms evidence for the existence of this present reality.
Can we any longer doubt the existence of the “paranormal” world on the basis that this “normal” material world is just sooo real? To restate the above conclusion from the debate between four of our leading physicists: “The world is not as real as we think” (Rosenblum & Kuttner).
We need to reconsider what’s paranormal? To repeat a part of the above quote from “Brain Wars” by neuroscientist Professor Mario Beauregard: “…Seen and understood through the lens of quantum mechanics, most of these phenomena do not appear anomalous at all. So-called paranormal events are, in effect, perfectly normal.”
“Anomalous” (deviating from what is expected) is probably the better word than “paranormal” which carries too much wooo-ooo baggage for many.
So what are the philosophical implications of all the above?
HOW STANDS THE PHILOSOPHY OF MEANING IN LIGHT OF PARANORMAL EVIDENCE?
If any of the paranormal evidence we considered in Essay 3 is the “T” Truth, then materialism – the default position held by academic philosophy of meaning – stands insecurely.
Our expedition for Truth found that materialism is still the dominant philosophic position of most academic philosophies of meaning. As noted in the essays, academic philosophy, once well described as being “a footnote to Plato”, is now better described as being the handmaiden to science. The explanatory power of physics, chemistry, and Darwinian biology is such that most in academia feel that these sciences, combined, form a comprehensive “Theory of Everything” – a bomb-proof materialist foundation for the House of Disbelief. But if any of the evidence we considered from the paranormal is correct, materialism is incorrect – and the adoption of materialist philosophy as academia’s default needs to be rethought.
Would the end of materialism’s hegemony be a good thing?
Materialism is a fundamentalism (everything in the universe can be understood in terms of its fundamentals: matter and/or energy) and while it serves the good purpose of countering the obvious dangers of religious fundamentalism, fundamentalism of any sort is dangerous. Materialism is a monism – holding that everything, including us, is of one substance: mattergy, to coin word (i.e. matter + energy which are basically the same thing). Materialism thus opposes the human dualism that these essays conclude best represents the human condition, viz.: human = material body + soul/self/spirit (not the same dualism as the Cartesian dualism of human = body + mind – rejected because mind is of our body/brain – not separate to it). The materialist belief is not only that we are merely matter, but that said matter came into existence accidentally, and from a state of nothing – implying that, necessarily there can be no special meaning to our existence – we must adopt personal meanings, if we so need. However, it is apparent that too many of us are not managing to adopt personal meanings substantial and/or durable enough to get us through our inevitable “dark nights of the soul” – witness our various addictions, distractions (Netflix anyone?), mental crutches (New Age religions) – and the ever-increasing suicide rates, especially amongst our young. What also needs to be remembered by those sacrificing at the altar of “P” Physics (“Physics can explain everything” – Hawking; “There is Physics, then there is stamp-collecting” – Rutherford) is that among the dazzling successes of physics stands the atom bomb. Absence of belief in any special meaning to our existence + atom bombs = a dangerous combination.
Also we need to consider, how stands God in light of paranormal evidence?
HOW STANDS GOD AFTER OUR EXPLORATION?
The main aim of this expedition was not to explore for proof (or disproof) of the existence of any real “G” God, rather it was to explore for 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. That said, we did find some evidence for the existence of a “G” God.
EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
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 God or creator responsible for it. However, the paucity and incredibility of our primitive religious “g” gods does not mean that there necessarily must be no real “G” God. In fact, Essays 3 encountered plenty of evidence of a “D” Divine in the apparent blueprint for the universe – evidenced not only by its essential dimensions, crucial forces and constants, all set in delicate balance and ratios to each other – but also the fact that all such have been written in an intelligent language (mathematics). We also found evidence of a Divine in the various mysteries of the human condition – like the fact we, supposedly just physical matter and energy according to our physical sciences, observably have nonphysical factors like: a self; consciousness; an understanding and appreciation of beauty; and unique (in the animal world) notions of shame, dignity, ethics, virtues, right and wrong, irony, existential humour – to mention a few. All of this from the “normal” world, but when we explored the paranormal world we found more evidence of a “D” Divine.
PARANORMAL EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
The experiencers and researchers into mediumistic communication – who we allowed as evidential, because they passed our tests for credibility and non-fraudulence – not only reported encounters with deceased intelligences on the next plane of existence which apparently awaits us, but also encountered higher beings from further and higher planes of reality to come – who spoke definitely of an ultimate God/Divine – which awaits all who achieve sufficient spiritual evolution. Such God was said to be beyond the present understanding of us, and any of our religions (it was also said, on more than one occasion, that there is no one true religion or beliefs which open the gates of heaven). Research into people experiencing real NDE’s (“real” as opposed to epilepsy, drug trips, etc.) also report that, frequently, people who were religious previous to their NDE, returned more spiritual but less religious from their experience.
However, while the existence of a “G” God was implied by both normal and paranormal evidence on our expedition for Truth, what can we conclude about the nature of any God?
Should we even try to know the ineffable? Probably futile, but one reason we should try to approach more nearly the nature of God than we have managed so far – is because too many of our Houses of Gods’ various speculations about the nature of God have led to the many evils which have flowed from religion over the centuries (Crusades, the Inquisition, burning heretics at the stake) and still flows today (jihads, suicide bombers, the oppression of the Palestinians, etc.).
So, here goes.
We have just considered something of the paranormal evidence for the existence of God, so let’s consider what evidence from the paranormal has to say about the nature of God.
THE NATURE OF GOD FROM PARANORMAL EVIDENCE
From the medium Rev. William Stainton Moses (1839 – 1892) a Minister of the Church of England who developed mediumistic abilities later in life, we have this about the nature of God:
“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.”
“…a God of tenderness and pity and love, instead of a fabled creation of harshness, cruelty, and passion.”
“Spirit Teachings”, Pp. 19 & 20 (Forgotten Books edition)
So, we have the nature of God in the form of what “He” is not: “careless, jealous, a monster – and what he is: a God of pity – loving and tender. The above book is a record of Stainton Moses’ communications with an evolved spirit via automatic writing. Read it and assess it as evidence for yourself.
ABOUT THE NATURE OF GOD FROM NORMAL EVIDENCE
Essay 3, especially, encountered intimations of a Divine in a few places along its road to Truth. Such evidence of a Divine was mainly encountered when we considered the mysteries of beauty, our spiritual selves, and the primacy of love in human happiness. What has this to say about the nature of God?
While a complete understanding of Divine/Absolute nature must be beyond us creatures born of this relative reality, surely we can more closely approach the likely nature of any Divine than the incredible religious speculations of our ancient ancestors? Said ancestors derived their speculations about Divine powers from observations of the existence of the powers and forces of nature – powers and forces greater than ours, obviously from a source greater than us – a god. Thus they devised Sun gods, sea gods, fire gods, thunder gods, etc.. Religion became an attempt to control these greater powers for our survival, even harness them for our flourishing. In time, monotheisms arose in a few places – a single “G” God: all-powerful.
Religious officers, medicine men, priests not only devised our gods, but the nature of these ancient gods – and such nature was shaped by the interests of priestly power. To that end, the nature of ancient gods was usually to be human and male – thus having all the exploitable failings of a male king/leader: vanity (thus responding to praise); insecurity (thus needing worship); jealousy (no worshipping of other priests’ gods allowed); parochialism (a chosen tribe – others peoples could be killed or enslaved). A part of this God’s nature, dictated by vested interest, was to be an awful, punishing god on the one hand (to instil fear) and a loving, paradise-offering god on the other hand (to reward the faithful) – basically the common carrot-and-stick routine which, as all power-seekers know, works best with humans. The Abrahamic god of the Old Testament was a classic of this type.
So, what is our expedition’s speculation about the nature of God?
SPECULATIONS ON THE DIVINE
“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 – and the beginning of everything material which now exists.
If there is any Divine/Creator God, it is logical to presume that such must have existed before the big bang. But a physicist would say: “there can be no before the big bang because time, itself, began at the big bang”.
However, physicists also tell us that, under the proven laws of thermodynamics, energy cannot be created nor destroyed. So, if the big bang was energy becoming/converting into matter, then energy must have existed before the big bang. And if there was no time before the big bang, and energy must always exist – it is an eternal absolute – contingent on nothing. These are the prime characteristics we also ascribe to God – are we talking about “E” Energy here – the original Absolute/Energy which transmuted into matter being God (or of God at the very least)?
If so, some part of Energy/God became the universe (rather than the religious notion that God “created” the universe). In this way, we – and everything in this “U” Universe – are of God. The following comes to mind (to quote one of the better parts of the Bible):
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Further, in Essay 3 we examined the mystery that is consciousness, and found that our personal consciousness is what we try to describe when we use the words “soul, self, spirit”. And we also concluded that our consciousness seems to be an individuation of something larger – a universal consciousness – in Professor David Fontana’s (always better) words: “an ocean of pure unitary consciousness of which each individual consciousness is an expression”. So, if our physical body is of the original Energy/Matter, and our soul/consciousness is part of a universal “C” Consciousness, the implications are that we are of God – body and soul/self.
All up, the closest you will come to God, on this Earth, is another human – or any species with consciousness – however “least” we regard them as being. This has huge implications for how we treat each other – and all lifeforms – and also leads to another thought about the implications
If we are of the original energy (undeniable really – whether that energy was God or just of God) maybe we and all living things are how God experiences the universe? For example, the senses of our bodies are how God physically experiences this universe, and our soul/self is God experiencing the nonphysical/spiritual side of the universe – like beauty in all its forms (natural and human-made). This from one of Neal Donald Walsch’s conversations with God:
“ ‘... what I am seeking is to know Myself experientially. I am doing this through you, and through everything else that exists.’ ”
“Conversations With God”, Neale Donald Walsch – Book 3, P.11
While I don’t know whether to place Walsch in the paranormal (his extraordinary books are claimed to be received by the paranormal method of automatic writing) or the New Age (which seems to best describe much of his personal philosophy) his books lead to plenty of mind-opening, non-religious new ideas about what a real God could be. That aside, certainly our own investigations of the human condition found that the human condition is to be a body + self/spiritual duality – experiencing the universe sensually: touching, tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing – and spiritually: the self (not the body) being “lifted”, “moved” by the experience of beauty, for example. Meaning we could be one of the ways that any God experiences our part of the Universe – body and soul. And, lest we lapse into anthropocentrism, the latter part of the quote from Walsch, above, should also be noted: “and through everything else that exists” – the nature of God is everything, not just us – again: “as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” comes to mind.
PHYSICAL SCIENCE SAYS GOD IS AN INVENTION
Certain of our physical sciences (physics, cosmology, geology, etc.) 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 (chemistry, biology, neuroscience, etc.) claim to know enough about life to be able to comfortably assert that life is also accidental – it just happened spontaneously, chemically. As for us, we are due to the mechanical selection by nature of random mutations best suited to survival – all up, we can be fully and satisfactorily described as accidental matter, spontaneously alive, then mechanically evolved.
Thus, our combined physical sciences’ present understanding of the universe, and us, leads them to say that no God is needed – therefore there is none – the “nature of God” is wishful thinking. And they put forward the incredibility of our religions’ gods as corroborating evidence.
In this, our sciences rely on the implications of their mathematical equations – without being able to explain how the universe came to be written in such an intelligent, mathematical language (only being able to assert that humanity must have invented mathematics) – nor can they explain other mysteries of the physical world: quantum enigma; the presence of dark matter and energy; the nature of gravity; how the inert became organic; the origins of DNA and RNA through random mutations; how random mutations to DNA evolved such complexity so quickly. They are even more out of their depth in trying to explain the mysteries of the nonphysical world, like: our spiritual selves (that which is not of atoms and can be lifted, moved – by beauty, for example); how we, supposedly just chemically alive atoms can have consciousness; how nonphysical things (like humour, dignity, shame, a sense of right and wrong, certain altruisms, etc.) can exist, in the first place, in a world entirely made of atoms and energy – to be “naturally” selected, in the second place.
There are way too many things between our physical sciences and their claimedly successful dispatch of God as merely a human invention, selected mechanically by nature on account of its survival advantages.
So that’s about as far as our exploration towards Truth has been able to go towards the “Nature of God”. While it is ultimate vanity to imagine that our minds – born of, and only experienced of, the relative – can fully understand the Absolute/God, certainly the above is more towards the Truth of the nature of God than the complete denial of any Divine “first cause” (of a cause-and-effect universe) promulgated by our physical sciences – and more likely than the psychopathic Brute of the Bible – who not only aided the murder of the original inhabitants of the promised land but spent an inordinate amount of time persecuting his own supposedly “chosen people” for worshipping other gods and/or not worshipping “him” frequently enough and/or correctly (usually involving the killing and burning of lots of animals).
And what does our exploration for Truth conclude of those other things, the existence and nature of which traditionally vex humanity – things accepted as existing if there is a Divine – namely: heaven, hell, immaculate Divine judgement and justice?
JUDGEMENT, AND JUSTICE?
The existence of a God implies that there is Absolute/Divine knowledge of the Truth of us – not the relative truths of us and others about us. Such total knowledge leading to immaculate judgement and subsequent immaculate justice – usually in the shape of a heaven or hell. The existence and nature of these are large questions – which, from time to time, concern most of us during our Earthly existence (especially when we near the end of it).
The existence of a heaven is pivotal to most of our various Houses of God – who rely on its existence (and on the existence of a hell) for a large amount of their power over us – which power coming from their knowledge and ability to influence which of these it is to be for us – for eternity.
But our various Houses of God disagree on the nature of heaven – as spelled out in their differing “B” Books. For example, there is the Christian heaven with hymn-singing choirs of angels where all the redeemed sit around rapturously gazing on the face of God while waiting for the resurrection of the dead and a New Earth after Judgement Day. Or the Islamic garden of Eden watered by running streams, the believers wearing fine clothes and jewelry while resting upon soft couches eating eternal fruit – the righteous to be given “high-bosomed maidens for companions” and/or be wed to “dark-eyed houris”. Perhaps heaven is the temporary Buddhist one, where we reside in a paradise until we use up our Karma – then reincarnate (possibly even as an animal) – unless we have managed to get off the reincarnation merry-go-round by being perfect enough to attain Nirvana.
The denizens of the House of Disbelief, on the other hand, conclude that there cannot be any heaven. Their evidence, apart from the incredibility of religious heavens, being the (partial) understandings that our physical sciences have of our physical world – “partial” because, as we discovered in Essay 2, giant mysteries remain – like: the nonphysical consciousness of entirely physical matter (e.g. us); that the majority of our universe is comprised of mysterious dark matter/energy; the enigmas of quantum mechanics (like the role of nonphysical consciousness in the existence of physical matter). With such incomplete understanding of this reality, it is amazing that the House of Disbelief can be so dogmatic about its knowledge of any other realities there may be (especially given the huge amounts of dark matter/energy which surrounds/envelopes us – which could be of another reality/dimension?).
Because of all the divergent and incredible ideas concerning the existence and nature of any heaven, Essay 3 explored beyond the walls of both our “H” Houses for any eschatological Truths that we could find. The area of human experience called the “paranormal” by many, was one particular territory that we explored which offered evidence of realities beyond this Earthly one –some of which resembled most people’s expectations of heaven: a place of great beauty and overarching love where we are reunited with those we loved who have “gone before”. Further, credible researchers found evidence that it was comprised of several ascending planes of greater and greater beauty – through which we can continue to spiritually evolve towards an eventual reunion with the Divine Energy from which we came in the beginning. The higher planes are described as being of a beauty beyond our present comprehension – beauties which communicators from the higher planes find hard to convey to us on our basic Earthly plane because there are no entirely suitable Earthly words. Some have talked of music whose beauty is too exquisite for us to tolerate at our present, Earthly and lowly level of spiritual evolution. All up, the Heaven described by NDE experiencers and communicators from the next reality is not the religious single place/reality of eternal rest, but several ascending realities through which we can grow in knowledge and evolve our spirituality – continuing our self creativity/evolution that we began on Earth.
The nature of hell, most of our Houses of God can more closely agree on – usually a place involving lots of fire and brimstone. Again, they rely for evidence on their incredible ancient “B” Books – and on the rabid imaginings of various religious officers who are trying to maintain their power over people through fear. “Hell” is their stick – as “heaven” is their carrot.
And, of course, the House of Disbelief must deny hell. Again its conclusion is based on the incredibility of our Houses of Gods’ evidence and, also again, on its own partial understanding of this relative reality.
Essay 3, again, found the evidence of our chosen researchers into the paranormal to be more credible than both our Houses on this hellish subject. Such researchers found that, while there is no traditional religious hell, there is a reality which has similarities with religious purgatory – a place of dimness without beauty – inhabited by unevolved beings tending to gather in groups of like-minded souls – the selfish with selfish; the violent with violent; murderers with murderers (no “high-bosomed maidens” in sight for suicide bombers). The only way out of such a dim purgatory is not the lighting of candles and prayers of others back on Earth (as some Houses of God have it), but a genuine repentance and a desire to move towards the light of higher realities. Forgiveness is available to all, but is said to have to be earned – through genuine repentance – shown, not just spoken of, through actions (often by helping others in their spiritually unevolved soul group to advance as well). Love and help from more spiritually evolved souls is said to be always available for those who honestly want to climb out of the grim reality in which they find themselves. Progress ahead is also said to necessarily involve a past life review – which involves experiencing what we have caused others to experience during their past life – the good and the bad: the joys and pleasures; the sadnesses and pain.
Anyone who feels that the purgatory described above is a tame justice and punishment (compared to the traditional religious hell) should consider this – from researcher into the paranormal, Professor Stafford Betty – a description sent through a medium (Helen Greaves) of the purgatorial experience of a selfish, jealous, loveless soul coming to know her self, through experiencing that which she caused others to experience – mental torment, soulful hurt, jealousy and heartbreak:
“Take me, tear me, or destroy me. Drown my reason past all hope of restitution or, by one tornadic blast of torture, put an end to feeling and terminate this agony. Hell! Hell! In mercy take pity on my condition; open your gates and let me bathe my sufferings in your fiery lake. Hell! Hell! I say, in mercy open and let me in.”
“Heaven and Hell Unveiled”, P. 62, Stafford Betty.
Such a past-life experience as this illustrates that, while there is no eternal fire and brimstone – past life reviews can be truly hellish. Given the suffering of the above unevolved soul, what awaits the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and various other brutal and oppressive leaders, past and present – defies contemplation.
AS WE SOW, WE REAP
Thus communicators from the next reality confirm the House of God’s tenet that “ye reap as ye sow” – as Truth – and something that those who are presently in power over others in this life should consider. Taking a potentially eternal Faustian pact against our self/soul for a brief life of power and privilege on this Earth-reality is not a good idea. The wisdom of the ancient dictum to “Know Thyself” is obvious, and the sooner we manage it on Earth, the better – coming to know our self eventually through the experience of others could be hellish.
Paranormal research informs us that our self/soul/consciousness is eternal. But no one remains in purgatory-like conditions for eternity – it is said that the gates of purgatory are only locked on the inside. We are not forced to experience a past-life review – free will never ceases to be a Law – but, eventually, even the worst tire of the gloomy conditions and soul mates they have condemned their selves to, and choose to move forward. The book quoted from, above: “Testimony of Light” by Helen Greaves (a medium of tested honesty and credibility) contains an account of a senior Nazi’s eventual choice to accept the self-painful journey towards the Light of God’s Love – which is never withdrawn from anyone.
THAT’S ALL FOLKS?
So basically that’s about it – whatever you do to others on Earth – you end up doing to/for your self. Life is not a test, but an opportunity – to be, know and grow – our self. Best done in this life – and sooner than later.
But there is always an elephant in the living room of any philosophy of meaning: “WHY?” It may be observable that our life in this relative reality is an opportunity to be, know, and grow our self – but why?
We accepted Buddha’s injunction to not only start along the road to Truth, but to go all the way along it – thus we are committed to have a go at philosophy’s ultimate question.
WHY? – THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM
Physics says that there is no “Why?” – everything, the universe(s) and eventually life, just happened – accidentally and from nothing. But our exploration found that there are many physical and nonphysical mysteries that this purely material approach can’t answer.
We also found that such evidence points towards an overarching intelligence – a “G” God if you like. So the question for our exploration then becomes: why is any such God doing this? This is commonly called the “Mind of God” question (and probably best avoided if you only have a mind of man). The most sensible answer to such Why? questions is: “this is just how it is” – and we could stop there because we have found that “just how it is”, is purposeful and meaningful. But we’ll soldier on under Buddha’s injunction to go all the way along the road to Truth.
Some religious folk have an ideal cop-out to this question: God, to be God, is necessarily ineffable to the human mind – therefore “God works in mysterious ways”. Other religious folk impute human motives: God is churning out souls to worship him (as my religious studies teacher assured me at school). Or God creates new souls to test if they are worthy of keeping him company in heaven for eternity. Or has some other similar human motivation/reason.
We will attempt to approach closer to a credible WHY? speculation of the universe by looking closely at the “WHAT” of the universe – what this universe truly does – because the purpose of anything is what it does.
WHY? FROM THE WHAT!
So, what does this relative reality/universe do?
As we noted above, what relativity does is creativity – because it involves the existence of things relatively good, better, best.
The existence of such relative things allows (creative) selection for best (evolution). Whereas absolute reality is …errr…absolute – everything just is: immutable, unchangeable – thus necessarily uncreative (and thus also devoid of meaning).
So “Why?” this universe exists is to create – because that is what it does – and the purpose of anything is what it does.
But elephants still abound – Why were we created?
Let’s apply the “what” test again – if the purpose of anything is what it does – what do we do?
Humans create – we are creative agents of the universe.
So what do we create?
Things physical and nonphysical. Our exploration for the Truth of the human condition found plenty of evidence that the human equation had both physical and nonphysical factors – a physical body and nonphysical self. Part of the evidence for this conclusion is that we create things for our animal survival: tools, utilities, cities, foods, environments, medicines, sciences – and we also create things nonphysical: music, art, literature, dance, decorative buildings – beauty in various forms which “lifts”, “inspires”, “moves” our soul/self/spirit – the nonphysical human factor.
Another thing we do is experience the universe – things physical (through our animal senses) and things nonphysical (through our nonphysical consciousness). Lest we get anthropocentric – as does any lifeform with consciousness wherever there are lifeforms with sufficiently evolved selves and consciousness in the universe – the same purpose is theirs. We haven’t found any such yet, but logic and statistics would indicate that in such a creative universe as ours, there are bound to be many similarly as evolved lifeforms as our own.
So what we do is both create and experience the universe.
And, as discussed above, one of our creations is our selves.
Which presents us with another WHY? question – why self creation?
WHY SELF CREATION?
Why does life allow us the opportunity to be, know, and grow our self – what’s the point?
Most of the answers to the above WHY? questions come from reason applied to Earthly evidence. To find any answer the “WHY? self creation” question we will also turn to some evidence from paranormal research.
We have been advised by several communicators from the next realities which await us after this one, that our self is eternal – and further, that not only do we survive into said realities, but we continue our spiritual growth/evolution through higher and higher (and more and more beautiful) planes of existence – eventually and inevitably to reunite with the Divine energy from which we originally came “in the beginning”. In such ultimate Union (reunion?) with the Divine/Universal Consciousness we exist, like time lords, in the Absolute and beyond the relativities of time and space – able to experience all of the creations of the physical universe and to experience all of its creatures through their consciousness – anything, anywhere, anytime. Able to experience, for instance, all of Earth’s animal experiences – what it is like to fly like an eagle; swim like a porpoise; run like a gazelle. And able to witness, participate in, experience every human experience and event in our history: what it was like to sing the great operatic arias; rock the great concerts; create the great art; fly a fighter jet; to perform in the great orchestras; ride a rocket to the moon; dance the great dances; pen the great poems; win the grand prix; score the winning try in the World Cup; win a gold medal; drive the great cars; drink the great wines; eat at the great tables; make love with the great lovers (even know what it was like to make love to yourself?)……
Golly! Got a bit carried away there? But, according to some non-paranormal research into the mysteries of consciousness examined in the essays, not so silly – for example universal consciousness is implied by quantum physics’ encounter with universal connectedness/entanglement. As for the paranormal, there’s this communication from Dr. F.W.H. Myers (died 1901), member of the Society for Psychical Research and Cambridge don, communicated through the mediumship of Geraldine Cummins – concerning the seventh and final plane of our spiritual evolution from the relative reality that is Earth – towards the “the true reality” that 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.” (P. 6)
“So you are aware of every second in time, you are aware of the whole history of the earth from Alpha to Omega. Equally all planetary existence is yours. Everything created… you know and hold…the whole of life, the past, the future, all that is, all that shall be forever and forever.” (P. 40)
“The Road to Immortality”, Geraldine Cummins.
However, for some, all of the above raises another WHY? question: if the eventual planes/realities are so fantastic – why should we continue with our present physical body, in a frequently too hard life situation in this often barbaric reality – why not move on to the next, better life or reality?
WHY SHOULD WE CONTINUE TO EXIST HERE?
As stated in the Introduction, there are a growing numbers of suicides as more and more of us find ourselves drowning in a sea of meaninglessness. For many, life in this reality seems too hard, too unfair – making suicide (and sometimes even suicide bombing) look comparably attractive. One of the tenets of this philosophy is that we: 1.) have many lives in this world; 2.) and, eventually, existences in more beautiful, peaceful, and loving realities – does it therefore encourage thoughts of suicide amongst those who are struggling – as a way to escape a present unpleasant reality for another, better existence?
One of the things paranormal evidence is definite about, is that suicide, while not leading to hell (as most religious traditions hold) leads to spiritual stasis and, most often, to another life on Earth to advance our spiritual evolution. There is consensus from paranormal communicators that, while the challenges of Earth existence are not the only way towards self growth – they are the surest and quickest way to “Know Thyself” – which, as discussed, is the crucial key to self/spiritual growth. We might as well face our current Earthly challenges and take the opportunities they present to know and grow our self – and the opportunity that such struggle presents for growth into higher realities?
Suicide in the face of dire illness, from several reports, is a different matter.
THAT’S ABOUT AS FAR AS WE CAN GO
So, that’s about it, folks – that’s about as far as we can go.
This philosophy of meaning was spurred by a challenge and obeyed two injunctions. The challenge was Faulkner‘s (“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”) and the injunctions were Buddha’s (“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth – not going all the way, and not starting”). We took the courage to swim beyond sight of our current shores – which bound the sea of meaninglessness in which too many of humanity are presently floundering – towards the new horizons of a land hosting a road to “T” Truth. We then obeyed Buddha’s injunctions to: 1.) start on this road, and; 2.) attempt to go all the way along it.
How did we go? Did we succeed – did we arrive at the Truth of the human condition, and thereby discover the meaning of life – beyond reasonable doubt?
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT?
That’s for you to decide, but I think it fair to say that we have, on the balance of probabilities, established that there is more credible evidence for special meaning and ultimate purpose to our existence than there is credible evidence against. However, there remains sufficient mystery and room for doubt that such meaning and purpose cannot be known beyond reasonable doubt. And this is how a meaningful life should be. If there was no mystery in life, if the purpose to our existence was obvious and provable, then life would not work as immaculately as it presently does. This from Professor Fontana (referring to Professor William James’ take on this point):
“William James may have been right when he lamented that it rather looks as if the Almighty had decreed that this area should forever retain its mystery. If this is indeed the case, then I assume it is because the Almighty has decreed that the personal search for meaning and purpose in life and in death are of more value than having meaning and purpose handed down as certainties from others. If the certainties of life and death were so well known that they appeared in every school textbook, there would no longer be scope for the personal search, and for the inner development that may be possible only as a product of such a search.”
David Fontana “Is There an Afterlife”, P. 327
If life had no mysteries for each of us to decide on personally; and if we had no choices to make because our path was clearly laid out and inevitable – life would be just a tour through a theme park – pleasant enough, but essentially meaningless. Whereas, how life presently is, is redolent of ultimate purpose – which purpose gives it special meaning. In this current reality we find our selves in, nothing is laid out, our life demands constant decisions and our decisions define us – we become our choices. In this way life is not the test for eternal heaven or hell, so beloved of religions, but an opportunity – an immaculate opportunity for self discovery – to “Know Thyself” through our choices. And then it is an opportunity for self/spiritual evolution (higher choices) if we are not happy with our known self. We discovered on our journey along the road to Truth that we are driven to this self evolution by the unique human need to be happy (“unique” because all other animals are just driven to be). Beyond the immediate survival concerns of our animal body, so much of human life is an endeavour to be happy – and the most reliable way to be lastingly happy is to be happy with/able to love our selves – “reliable” because it always works; “lastingly” because our self is the only source of happiness totally within our control (unlike power, money, beauty, fame – which seldom work in this reality and never in the next). And we also discovered that, because we are our own harshest judges, the surest evidence we allow that we are worthy of such self love is when others love us; and that such love from others is best attained through loving them (we love those who love us).
The holy grail of philosophy has always been seen to discover “how to best live”. Surely, to be happiest is to best live? To be happiest we need to be loved. To be loved we need to love. Thou shalt love one another – sounds familiar?
All of the above was evident to our exploration for Truth just by examining our life in this reality. But if we allow evidence from paranormal phenomena, then our spiritual evolution of self has consequences beyond just being happy in this brief life. Whether you find such evidence convincing, or not, is up to you – life, in its immaculate way, asks you to decide for your self – literally.
Graeme Meakin – last revised 30th August, 2018.