Yes, Eric, Hart’s NT translation is out there and causing quite a stir. Here’s an essay by the translator that indicates why:
Newton E. Finn, Sat 23 Oct, 16:51
I hasten to add that I welcome the information that David Bentley Hart has made a translation of the NT that, in your own words, “shatters any supposed reference to an eternal hell or salvation by faith alone apart from active works of love.” It does indeed sound more than a bit like Imperator, (and coincides better with one’s own natural ethical thinking (Kohlberg level 6-plus) as a result) and if the translation is more reliable than its prejudiced predecessors would make it easier to accept the more severe statements Stainton Moses recorded from Imperator. A quite stringent middle way between Paul and James the Just - at last? and a view that consigns G’Henna to the status of a burning rubbish tip, which is what it was. My own eldest son is one who, I believe, will eventually benefit from this kind of understanding of how we should read the NT. Can you tell us all whether Hart’s translation has yet been published yet, and if so by whom?
I am also grateful to Chris de Cat for his latest remarks, but I note that no-one has referred to my denial that God has to accept restriction to the cage either of a Deist or of a Theist, but remains free to scorn our analyses and act as S/He Likes.
Eric Franklin, Sat 23 Oct, 09:34
Eric, I’m certain we have no substantial differences regarding the proper place of scripture in one’s spiritual life, the danger of making a god out of a text. As for “The Subtle Energy Body,” in a lifetime of reading I’ve encountered few books as complex and dense (in a positive, not a negative sense). It will take me a while to work my way through lengthy Chapter 15, not to mention reading and pondering (as it obviously deserves) the entire book. This I shall do as time and energy permit, but it’s going to be a project for me, not merely another routine read—sort of like AOD has indicated Patience Worth’s “Sorry Tale” will be. When I’ve digested enough of “The Subtle Energy Body” to make an intelligent comment about Chapter 15 or any other part of it, I look forward to doing so. Meanwhile, I and surely others who read this blog would be interested in learning a little more about the intellectually stimulating and formidable Dr. Maureen Lockhart. She must have been something extraordinary.
Newton E. Finn, Sat 23 Oct, 01:05
Thanks, Newton, for the link to the progressive Christianity site. I will be checking it out. Incidentally, I found the Schweitzer book I previously mentioned, although it is by Oskar Kraus about Schweitzer. An applicable quote by Kraus:
“Schweitzer clearly realizes that [a new worldview] is a far harder task to achieve in these confused times when the mechanization and industrialization of life have made the masses unfree and the struggle for existence has exhausted them so that their souls, deprived of the possibility of quiet reflection, become stunted and they fall victims to inhumanity besides being all too easily kept in a dependent position by the propaganda of the communities to which they belong. We are over-organized. But the spirit is everything and institutions of little importance; we are lost unless we put wine into the bottles. It is not the organization that decides the future of mankind, but the inner worth of the individuals and personalities….......” That was written about 70 years ago. Kraus likely had no idea as to how much worse it would get.
Michael Tymn, Fri 22 Oct, 22:51
Thank you, but if you analyse what I said very carefully you will see that in fact you are CONFIRMING the truth of ALMOST every statement I made because I do not claim to know what PROPORTION of the NT text is in Greek, what proportion is in Aramaic or uses Aramaic idiom. Your phrase “pretty rough Greek” is exactly what I have named the common ‘koine’ Greek of the major part of the NT. Apparently the Greek of the Apocalypse is even rougher than the rest.
However, the POINT of what I have said is that there is nothing to be gained by Bible bashing and preferring (say) the Septuagint to the small number of the Masoretic texts of the Middle Ages. (The KJV is translated, I seem to remember, from no more than a few of those. Was it only 8? I can’t remember.) The POINT I am at pains to make is that we should LIVE by LOVE, not by the Word on the page, such as any law, even Papal or Mosaic. I know you agree with that.
You do not tell me how you are getting along with chapter 15 of Maureen’s book. In 11 years (times 5000 copies sold around the world: let’s guess 2000 serious readers) I have received the praise of a staff member of Maharishi University, the criticism of not a single reader, even ones I meet face to face. Not one, despite giving the book to professors and PhDs here. Maureen never received a critical response to the book either, and all the research and fundamental writing of it was hers. A worthwhile legacy. I filled the gaps her own considerable erudition could not.
Eric Franklin, Fri 22 Oct, 19:50
No, Eric, what we call the NT was written entirely in Greek, usually a pretty rough Greek, occasionally a somewhat more elegant version. There are what scholars call “Aramaisms” interspersed in the gospels, providing evidence that the original teachings of Jesus, preserved in oral tradition and collections of sayings and stories, were in the original Aramaic. For you or any reader of Michael’s who wants to look further into this subject, the best book about the Jesus of history, IMHO by far, is Dale Allison’s “The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus.” In the last chapter, this top-tier NT scholar (now at Princeton) drops the academic voice gets into what key aspects of the Jesus tradition mean to him personally. The chapter is so good, so moving, that I read it devotionally. It’s fascinating, by the way, how closely Allison’s Christology dovetails with Imperator’s.
Newton E. Finn, Fri 22 Oct, 17:15
Dear Newton, and all,
I think a few more remarks are appropriate: I know little about the subject, but I think I am right in saying that some parts of the New Testament were written in Aramaic, a deficient tongue of few words, most of which accordingly had to be pressed into use to express many more meanings than they ought to have done, a language which, for this very reason, cannot adequately communicate finely distinguished meanings at all. Aramaic is a vague thinkers’ paradise!
It is probably worth saying also that the parts of the NT which are indeed written in Greek are mostly in the colloquial Greek known as the koiné, not in the accurately-defined words that form a language precise enough yet fecund enough for the birth of philosophy that Greek’s huge vocabulary provided. Perhaps High German and colloquial German provide a contemporary parallel - I would not know as I am not interested in languages themselves but only in the most precise meanings thereof that are available for our verbal communication.
Taking us yet further into vagueness is the fact that some parts of the NT (I believe this is true of John the Divine’s Apocalypse, another work which, for that reason, is very easy to miscomprehend), are not even in adequately grammatical Greek.
‘God’ cannot require any of us to master language before we can be credited with having truly attempted to live by love alone.
And then there’s Western history, which put the cart before the horse, allowing the Roman Church to come into being and spread its unauthorised and fantastical dogmas so that they had a reverse influence on the meanings attributed by translators from the later Middle Ages onwards that are doubtless still perverting understandings today.
We should be people of the honest heart rather than people of the Book.
Eric Franklin, Fri 22 Oct, 15:28
I believe commitment to belief is a better goal than certainty about it, and perhaps no easier to attain.
coyd m walker, Fri 22 Oct, 02:47
I think you are right.
How are you getting on with ‘The Subtle Energy Body’? Maybe especially chapter 15?
Eric Franklin, Thu 21 Oct, 20:15
“Part of this faith would be that from the perspective of soul consciousness, human sufferings lack their human sting and anguish, and are perceived as the purely temporary and brief episodes in a very long soul existence that they really are.”
I think we both can agree on that! - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 21 Oct, 19:37
Sorry David, Ron Scolastico is not for me. I had to stop reading. Thanks anyway
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 21 Oct, 17:50
I think it boils down to a couple of simple questions:
Would the human you, Amos Oliver Doyle, select a next life in the slum in Bangladesh afflicted with disease and in poverty? Or would you your human self select another even worse option, to be born as a baby with genetic defects inevitably leading to fatal cancer early in life? Or to becoming a paraplegic? This seems to happen frequently even in life in advanced countries.
If the answers are No!, then whatever being it is that makes these choices is basically another being than yourself. Another being that must not really experience human suffering as acutely as the human.
Other possible explanations are that the “system” set up for next life selection deliberately keeps even the soul in ignorance of the what we would consider the obvious negative consequences of these “bad” choices, or maybe the soul really has no choice at all - the next life is assigned by powers that be outside of its control, or just by random draw.
None of these apparent possible options arrived at by simple rational logic are very palatable. So I would conclude that if there is basically only goodness in the underlying process of reincarnation life selection, this goodness is beyond human comprehension, and we need to strive as best we can to develop faith that that is the case.
Part of this faith would be that from the perspective of soul consciousness, human sufferings lack their human sting and anguish, and are perceived as the purely temporary and brief episodes in a very long soul existence that they really are.
David Magnan, Thu 21 Oct, 16:30
I am trying to digest what you say, David. I may not be tracking very well tonight so I offer the following disjointed comments.
I think one must be careful, especially those of us in the Western world, to not judge other ways of living as inferior, not desirable, unrewarding or unfulfilling as compared to a Western highly industrialized culture and life style. The lack of conveniences and luxuries we regard as indispensable are not a prerequisite for a happy meaningful and productive life. Arguably the only perhaps indispensable advantage of Western culture, in my opinion, is its ability to treat illness and disease and modern dentistry must surely be a god-send; the rest is just fluff.
Now, does consciousness choose to be born into a life of struggle, poverty and pain to further it’s soul growth? Obviously I don’t know or I don’t remember. I have a vague suspicion that I chose to be born to two people who at the time seemed to be very happy. I wanted to be with them and be happy. I might have known one of them before and that they would need special help to manage their life’s choices. I don’t think I considered how my choice would have affected my life in the long term and as it turned out my parents were not happy and neither was I. My choice though was a very simple choice to be happy and to help someone else through their life. I had no concern—-didn’t give it a single thought—- for the pain and suffering that was part and parcel of the life I chose. Maybe when a spirit makes a choice to be born, that choice is made for very simple reasons and not for any soul-searing learning experience. I think that those “New Agers” you have experienced are mostly wrong. Pain and suffering are probably rarely a direct choice of a reincarnating spirit. However, negative aspects of one’s life, pain and suffering, can sometimes provide a beneficial learning experience for the soul consciousness, but it seems unlikely that one would make that their only reason for reincarnating.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 21 Oct, 03:47
Concerning a “vast gulf” between soul consciousness and human consciousness I have to pause for a moment. I can understand how some people may want to think of two different consciousnesses but I think that consciousness is prime, Soul consciousness and human consciousness are one and the same. Consciousness is what survives dissolution of the physical form, the same consciousness that dwells in a physical form is the consciousness that survives in a spiritual form. How could it be any other way and still be considered survival? That thinking consciousness that seemingly dwells within one’s skull and is what most people think of as one’s self is the consciousness outside of the skull that passes into a spiritual life. It continues to be our self, It is the true self that evolves from lifetime to lifetime. - AOD
Yes, Eric, this view of scripture is exactly what students in Christian seminaries (other than fundamentalist or evangelical) have been taught for at least seventy or eighty years, ever since “higher criticism” (form, redaction, etc.) came to dominate biblical interpretation and construal. David Bentley Hart, among the most erudite of current Christian scholars, recently completed an entirely new translation of the NT from the original Greek, which translation shatters any supposed reference to an eternal hell or salvation by faith alone apart from active works of love. Sounds a bit like Imperator, doesn’t it? And that’s precisely why I think there should be dialogue between spiritualists and progressive Christians, who seem to me like kindred spirits, ships from the same spiritual country. passing in the night.
Newton E. Finn, Wed 20 Oct, 18:58
I like Ron Scolastico’s first book, “The Earth Adventure”. You might try it.
“A life is chosen in good faith that it will be delicious, full of juice and flavor, and a joy for others. If it is not, we just throw it aside, go to the store and choose another one.”
Unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem to work that way. The soul supposedly has the information and wisdom to select an “appropriate and desired” future lifetime. And to know that the ripe-looking and shiny apple really has a rotten core (aside from the fact that the extreme example of the disease-ridden life in the Bangladesh slum is like an obviously on the outside rotten apple). And to again use the extreme example, to automatically know that the disease-ridden life in the Bangladesh slum will involve much suffering. Yet the soul still selects it.
Further, once the apple is selected, rotten or not, it has to be eaten to its core before leaving to select another one.
And the “bad from the human standpoint” selection if not responded to by learning the right things, will apparently be followed by the soul selecting yet another rotten apple, to make sure the right lessons are learned.
How so, if the soul is basically human?
I strongly suspect that a higher spiritual wisdom than mine can reveal the major errors in this assessment, but I have not yet found it.
David Magnan, Wed 20 Oct, 18:51
Eric, what a strange synchronity…I listen a few hours ago at a special session with Sanaya from Suzanne Giesemann( https://www.suzannegiesemann.com/may-21-2017/ ) where in the questions at the end the bible problem was treated ...by Christ himself.
Chris De Cat, Wed 20 Oct, 18:46
Also our mission on earth is treated in that recording.
I am sure we are part of All That Is…otherwise it was not All That Is anymore. It’s as simple as that.
I think that the suffering is due to free will and the existance of duality on earth. One of the basic features of that suffering is the struggle for life and the need to eat our fellow beings (plants and animals). On earth the law of action and reaction (I don’t mean the exact Newton law) is active. When there is light ,there is also darkness. If there is happiness, there is also sadness. We have to transcend the human story and understand that that duality is part of the illusion of separation, because oneness is the reality…if you believe in the existance of All That is.And I do.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 20 Oct, 14:10
At one time I was quite taken with Ron Scolastico Ph.D. and I bought his book “Doorway to the Soul.” For some reason I cooled on Scolastico after reading his book. Maybe I need to go back and read it again. - AOD
Choosing an incarnation is like choosing an apple at the supermarket. Obviously, everyone would want to choose the most beautiful perfect apple and they know that there will be a cost at the check-out line for their choice. Maybe it is not known at the time of choosing how much the actual cost will be but the apple is chosen for a reason, for a purpose and it is thought to be worth the cost whatever it may be. It is anticipated that the apple will be good, that it will be sweet or that it will be something that can be given as a treat for someone else.
It could be that the apple will be as expected, however it could also be that what appeared to be good on the outside, upon cutting open revealed a worm and a rotten core. Choosing a lifetime is like that. A life is chosen in good faith that it will be delicious, full of juice and flavor, and a joy for others. If it is not, we just throw it aside, go to the store and choose another one. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 20 Oct, 13:35
Dear Newton, and all,
My own view, for what it may be worth, is that we do not have to accept every word of our so-called Bible as if it had been verbally inspired (ie punctiliously dictated) by God. That it contains error is clear. We are entitled to use the intelligence we inherited to evaluate the Bible. That intelligence suggests to us that many parts of the Bible are only the thoughts of humans, reflecting the undeveloped ethics of the time of the original writing, expressed in clumsy words, therefore inexact expressions of even what was rightly intended, later tampered with by people of different opinions, then mistranslated. That’s quite a cataract of decline from perfection and reliability. Better, surely, to trust simply in the goodness of the Great Being Who contains all, and CANNOT be untrustworthy because no internal inconsistency has, despite huge lapse of ‘time’, reacted back upon that Being and so destroyed it. Even what we call the ‘Creation’ - including ourselves - is still there (despite OUR OWN inconsistency in doing our best to destroy ourselves - but that’s another matter, and OUR OWN problem). Our own existence is the guarantee of the trustworthiness and love of ‘God’. Do any of you agree?
Eric Franklin, Wed 20 Oct, 09:18
Thanks Eric for the additional information about similar experiments. Well I keep trying to send light in my thoughts and heart to those places and people where darkness and negativity rules, hoping that they find a way out of it that is beneficial for their progress. My light is perhaps small but the intention is big😉.
Chris De Cat, Tue 19 Oct, 20:56
Let me add to my prior comments about “reaching out.” Over the years, I have attempted to arrange talks with church groups, hospices, civic groups, etc., about what is discussed in this blog, but with few exceptions nobody is interested.
Hospice wants nothing to do with anyone other than a qualified clergyman or clergywoman talking about such things with patients.
The people across the street from me frequently host meetings of their Good Hope church committees. One of the members parked in front of my house one day and as I was cutting the grass I started talking with him about religion. When I mentioned my beliefs, he was quick to get in his car and depart.
When our new neighbors moved in two years ago—an 80-year-old woman and her 50+ daughter—my wife made some cookies and we took them over to introduce ourselves to the mother. The daughter wasn’t there. The mother seemed very nice and friendly. However, the next day, the empty cookie container was on our porch with a note from the mother, thanking us for the cookies but asking us to respect their privacy in the future. We had given our name and phone number to the mother. I’m pretty sure the daughter Googled my name and discovered that I am collaborator with Satan.
I’ve suggested talks to civic groups, and succeeded with a couple over the past 20 years, but most of them turn up their noses at the suggested topics.
Bottom line: New ways of “reaching out” are needed.
METGAT@aol.com, Tue 19 Oct, 19:46
“From the physical perspective pain and suffering are not something that most people seek out as they would seek out pleasurable experiences.”
I heartily agree. The problem is that many of these psychic channelers claim that their spiritual wisdom is that “we” actually choose difficult lives with much suffering, for purposes of soul growth.
Past life researchers like Michael Newton claim to have regressed many people back into their last between-lives experience and found that they had actually made next-life choices that at least could have led to much suffering - bad choices from our human perspective. But nobody in his/her human right mind would consciously choose to come back in a poverty-stricken disease-ridden family in a slum in Bangladesh (just an extreme hypothetical example, which nevertheless must be the case for millions given the population statistics). On the surface it almost appears to be that the process must be at base one of either ignorance, or coertion - the system whatever it is apparently forces such from our perspective bad next-life decisions.
So the problem boils down to there evidently being a vast gulf between soul consciousness and human consciousness. To the extent that it apparently would be hard for us as humans to really identify with our souls as being really ourselves. I realize that this assessment may be woefully ignorant of the true spiritual wisdom, but I have not encountered yet any substantive answer to this problem with the New Age teachings. Many channeled New Age teachings incorporate some version of this approach. In particular I am rather fond of Ron Scolastico’s teachings of his spiritual Guides - they are quite beautiful, but from my perspective very hard for my human self to accept.
David Magnan, Tue 19 Oct, 17:42
Michael, perhaps the easiest way to become acquainted with current liberal Christian thought, at least that of the more popular (“pop”) nature, is to go to the Patheos website and explore the various blogs in the “progressive Christian” category. Patheos provides a forum for the expression of a wide variety of religious and philosophical viewpoints, from evangelical to atheist. On the other end of the intellectual spectrum, the more heavy duty stuff, here’s just one review of a recent book in a leading liberal Christian journal.
David Bentley Hart comes from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, yet is often on the cutting edge of progressive Christian thought. If you search YouTube under his name, you’ll find a good number of video interviews and lectures, some short, some long, but all worth checking out. I greatly appreciate your interest in this stuff and hope you find some of it interesting, perhaps encouraging.
Newton E. Finn, Tue 19 Oct, 16:55
Thanks David for continuing the conversation. I am not familiar with the “New Age channelers” and ‘Psychic mediums” that you have in mind. The ones that I have read about or seen in videos rarely address issues related to reincarnation. Perhaps there are others who discuss suffering as having some soul meaning but I can’t recall any. I guess that I am trying to recall if Ian Stevenson made such statements in his studies of reincarnation in children but I don’t recall any in all of his studies. (I have not read all of them,) And while I don’t value hypnosis as a way to remember past lives, I don’t recall that Brian Weiss, who uses hypnosis to elicit past lives made such claims in his books. I never had an interest in that aspect of reincarnation reports and so I did not focus on statements regarding the effect of suffering on soul growth if there were any.
I am going to have to use my negative definition of a “New Ager” to suggest someone not especially knowledgeable of the history and validity of psychic phenomena or the history of and studies of reincarnation cases. I can’t get the picture out of my mind of a well-meaning somewhat overweight young woman dressed in beads and bangles enthusiastically reading the past lives and future lives for her bug-eyed friends. I apologize to young women who fit this description but I can’t get that image out of my mind and I recoil from any and all proclamations from those people. I think some of those young women eventually mature but they usually don’t lose their unfounded beliefs as related to reincarnation. I am verging on sounding like James Hyslop, I know, but there are some people who really don’t know much about the afterlife and to whom little attention should be given.
I agree that suffering as related to the soul versus the body “is not a belief in reincarnation itself and is not necessitated by it.” If there are channelers who say that pain and suffering are not “bad’ then I would have to strongly disagree with them. From the physical perspective pain and suffering are not something that most people seek out as they would seek out pleasurable experiences. Pain is a sensation associated with a physical form and it hurts! I have no doubt that all animals experience pain and suffering at some level but that the human form may be exquisitely created to experience a full-bodied version of the pain sensation. All animals including humans probably learn from pain and suffering and that it is important to continuing their current physical existence that they learn the lesson. Perhaps that experience of pain and suffering stays with the soul entity or consciousness after death of the physical form and does provide some kind of learning that affects their choice of another incarnation if that would be useful for their soul growth. But from what people who report a near death experience (NDE) say, everything associated with their most current experience in physical form is left behind as they enter into another reality.
I don’t want to beleaguer this comment when personally I don’t put much stock in dissecting the meaning of life. I think one must guard against looking for a mechanistic explanation for things that are spiritual. The transition into and out of a physical existence is probably a lot easier and smoother than is thought with little focus on soul learning experiences. The ‘life review’ reported by some NDE-ers is non-judgmental and focuses on how one’s actions affected other people. I mean, that we need to ‘lighten up’ a bit and try to enjoy our life experience whatever it may be. Take the good with the bad knowing that this too will pass. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 19 Oct, 15:32
Regarding Chris (de Cat’s?) suggestion that it would be good to send positive thoughts to war zones, maybe it is appropriate to refer to the mention Dr Maureen Lockhart made to experiments based on this that have already been carried out. One was known as the Jerusalem Experiment, but there are others of like kind and with similar good results. The mention is in the final chapter of her book ‘The Subtle Energy Body’ published eleven years ago.
By the way, my memory, not my eyesight, being that of an 80 year-old, I referred to Dr Howard Jones as Harold Jones, in a recent comment. Apologies to his spirit, and to Jenny, his widow. He was, and doubtless still is, a very good man, but is now living in an ‘Elsewhere’ of our universe. And, yes, that idea of an ‘Elsewhere’ does indeed come from Relativity Theory, which, if true (or insofar as it IS true) must be part of “God’s Truth”. Truth appeals to REASON, but most people are motivated by emotion, not by reason. How sad is that? Our beliefs are surely better when grounded in reason, not in the fierce defensive emotions of zealotry. That emotion kills too many in our world, as Britons are aware at this very moment (David Amess MP, killed recently by a zealot.) As Bertrand Russell advised, we should first find truth by the stringent application of REASON, and then we can feel free to invest that discovered truth with all the emotion we feel. He also said that to love is wise. To hate is foolish. Russell is today’s philosopher of choice for those philosophers who love to hate or ignore. How sad is that?
Eric Franklin, Tue 19 Oct, 09:58
Referring to Mike (Tymn’s) comments on the current stances of the established churches, rational as all his comments always are, it seems to me that the churches’ doctrines (naive and ignorant dogmas?) have not changed much, if at all, but are not discussed unless the church in question is forced against its will to state its official view. Instead, the churches seem usually to show only their social faces, their (rather effete) attempts to remedy social ills, and to woo and amuse the majority on Sunday mornings, or, even more, on Sunday evenings, and at the same time to shun science (which if correct MUST be part of ‘God’s Truth’, must it not? - and therefore important whenever relevant). There seems no ethical way in which a thoughtful and logical and honest person could approve such organisations. Most of the time the truth is not to be heard in the established churches, so the sooner Don Porteous’s book can be published, despite its 151,000 word length, the better.
Eric Franklin, Tue 19 Oct, 09:03
“Shouldn’t we consider reaching out to them by starting on the right foot, by first becoming acquainted with where Christian theology is at as opposed to where it was?”
Newton, I’ve attempted to become acquainted where Christian theology is vs. where it was, but I don’t see much change. I gather from talking with my Catholic friends that the Catholic Church now avoids talking about the afterlife as much as possible. Thus, young Catholics might not hear about the fires of purgatory as I did in my youth, but they are given no clue as to what purgatory is. They simply don’t discuss it.
The Protestants I know still believe everything discussed here is demonic and see no middle ground between “heaven” and “hell.”
I’m sure there must be many exceptions to all of the above, but I haven’t encountered very many of them.
Any suggestions on how to “reach out” to them?
Michael Tymn, Tue 19 Oct, 08:00
I notice that, as usual, no-one has responded to my question of a few days ago regarding the human categorisations of ‘Deist’ and ‘Theist’, to characterise ‘God’. I pointed out that the Supreme All-Being does not have to fit him/herself into any one of our categories, but is free to act as she/he wishes. The Whole, encompassing all there is, is automatically beyond categories, is s/he not? Why no responsive comment?
I also suggested reincarnation would happen if there were sufficient reason, such as the cutting short of a human life. A new body could be provided so that the intended life’s lessons could be learned after all. Why no further comment? Are these thoughts worthless, negligible?
Eric Franklin, Tue 19 Oct, 06:52
There are some pretty wicked comments about Brian Greene’s book on the Amazon web site. Admittedly I look at the one-star reviews first and those reviews all seemed to be consistent in not recommending the book because of wordiness as the least of some more significant criticisms. I am leery of 5-star reviews because sometimes they are written by friends of the author or by others paid to write a good review. The 1, 2, and 3-star reviews are the most revealing in my opinion. It is a book of 448 pages so, based on those reviews I don’t think I will be ordering this book. But thanks for the reference.
Apparently Greene said that , ” [I]f robust data established that a member of our species was able to channel an ancient sage hailing from a long - lost land, I’d be interested. Extraordinarily interested.” Well, I would recommend that he take a look at George Valiantine’s channeling of the Chinese sage ‘Confucius’ who discussed and corrected his poetry with Dr. Neville Whymant. I think that provides pretty ‘robust’ data. Michael Tymn presented this case in his May 24th blog of this year as well as in his April 22, 2013 blog. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 19 Oct, 02:42
Thanks for the response, but I don’t think you really addressed my statements. I wasn’t referring specifically to reincarnation in itself, which I fully accept as real, as shown by the many investigated verdical cases. And of course I fully accept the existence of the soul and of some form of survival and afterlife.
What I was referring to was the rather common teachings of New Age channelers and psychic mediums that people’s trials and tribulations are not “bad” no matter what the human suffering entailed, that they most importantly are to the benefit of the soul in a vast soul learning process which is achieved by reincarnation. This idea, though associated with reincarnation, is not the belief in reincarnation itself and is not necessitated by it.
This idea inherently assumes that the soul and the human are so closely associated that what is of benefit to the soul (in this case suffering) is also to the benefit of the human.
I think this is an unjustified assumption, made in part to easily (and I think naively) justify, explain and rationalize the apparently meaningless innocent suffering that is so common in physical life. To make sense of it in some sort of “feel good” way.
I contend that this particular belief regarding suffering does undervalue human life as opposed to that of the soul. And unfortunately, many New Age channelers, psychics and believers in general do in this way use the concept of reincarnation to discount suffering.
And of course I recognize that the other side of the coin is that though not all, at least many lives lived have much joy and achievement so as to at least approach a balance.
David Magnan, Tue 19 Oct, 00:05
Thanks for saving me 10 or 11 keystrokes. I assume that the dictionary definition of “New Age” is one that you subscribe to. I have to say that based on that definition I definitely am a “New Ager” although I don’t like to apply labels to people. I would venture to say that I am not the only person on this blog who would accept that definition. I guess I object to the way some people use that term to relegate some belief systems and the people who subscribe to them to the sidelines of sanity.
I think there are more than one or two people who comment on this blog who seek an alternate approach to traditional Western culture; who have an interest in spirituality, mysticism, holism, and environmentalism, including beliefs in reincarnation, astrology, [maybe not] psychics and the presence of spiritual energy. It seems to me that over the years most of the discussions and comments on this blog have been about those topics.
I am not aware that a belief in reincarnation undervalues experiences of human beings in any way, I do not believe that the “New Age” beliefs as defined by the dictionary are naïve beliefs, as you say, of people lacking experience, wisdom and judgement, as naïve is defined. To the contrary, some of those who accept that reincarnation of the human consciousness may occur are usually rather experienced people with years of study and expertise in esoteric philosophies. But this is not to exclude those with rather mundane occupations and a lay but long-lasting interest.
A belief in reincarnation does not discount the trials and tribulations of a human physical experience. In fact, that is what most reports of reincarnation are about—-usually how people suffered the trials and tribulations of life and died in a past life. I don’t think that anyone who believes in reincarnation uses that concept to discount whatever suffering was reported. I just don’t understand how anyone who believes in reincarnation would ever “undervalue” human life? I think they might appreciate life more for its fullness, variety, fun and yes—-suffering and respect the person more for having lived through all of that. I think that some people who believe in reincarnation do believe that physical life is ultimately temporary (which it is) and intended only for learning. That may be so, but I like to believe that a physical existence is an opportunity for more than just learning. I think it may be a time for experiencing the joy of living, whatever that may turn out to be. It may be a role to play, a relationship to encounter or a purpose to fulfill. But whatever it is, through happiness or sadness, pleasure or pain, life is an opportunity to be human. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 18 Oct, 19:44
Thank you for the kind words and the book recommendation. I took a look at the reviews and comments at Amazon, and I don’t think it is a book that I want to invest time or money in. I suspect that author Greene is of the school Sir Oliver Lodge had in mind when he wrote:
“The aim of science has been for the most part a study of mechanism, the mechanism whereby results are achieved, an investigation into the physical processes which go on, and which appear to be coextensive with nature. Any theory which seems to involve the action of Higher Beings, or of any unknown entity controlling and working the mechanism, is apt to be extruded or discountenanced as a relic of primitive superstition, coming down from times when such infantile explanations were prevalent.”
Another Lodge quote I like:
“The material side of a picture is canvas and pigment, nothing else would be detected by a microscope; but to such an examination there is no ‘picture,’ the ‘soul’ or meaning – the reality – has evaporated when the material object is contemplated in that analytical manner. So it is with our bodies; dissected they are muscle and blood-vessel and nerves – a wonderful mechanism; but no such examination can detect the soul or mind.”
Michael Tymn, Mon 18 Oct, 08:32
Congratulations Michael on again generating so much response to this most recent of your blogs. It’s motivated me to enter the conversation with my own observations on the whole area of skepticism. I’d like to begin by sharing some statements from the most recent book by Brian Greene-” Until the end of Time”. For those of you who haven’t heard of him He’s among the leading Theoretical Physicists of our time, a proponent of String Theory and a devout skeptic.His book is worth reading despite his skepticism so I’d recommend it to anyone interested in Particle physics , Philosophy and mainstream science’s opinions on the nature of meaning in our Universe.Anyway his statements are bold considering that I don’t believe they are true. Here’s the extract in his words. ” I am open to unconventional claims. If data collected in carefully designed and replicable experiments investigating say the ability to sense hidden cards in a deck,revealed better than random success, or if robust data established that a member of our species was able to channel an ancient sage hailing from a long - lost land, I’d be interested. Extraordinarily interested.But in the absence of such data,and in the absence of any reason whatsoever to anticipate that such data might be forthcoming, and in the absence of any argument as to why such claims are not in flat- out contradiction with all we know about the workings of reality,there quickly comes a point when we should conclude that there is no basis for holding a belief in any such claims.” So make of this what you will , I’ll reference it again later . I was surprised reading all the letters of doubt ranging from approx. 1% to 50% of the certainty of the Afterlife.Why is it that despite the extraordinary evidence provided by both ordinary and eminently qualified people in many varied circumstances and mediums-Voice,visual and tactile we continue to harbour doubt based on reasons that are less credible than those who have witnessed the evidence and have debunked those reasons such as superpsi and cosmic reservoirs etc.For those who are early in the search please check Michael’s list for further enlightenment. Betty,Schwartz, Moore, Kean,Alexander,Robertson,Hugenot and Tymn are some of the best you can read. I’ve chosen these as a start as you get a good mix of Scholars,investigative journalists and Mediums As to whether one is a Deist, Theist , Monist , or Dualist that is not irrelevant but here I am only trying to indicate that the Afterlife is for real and so count me in the 100%. PS Again reverting to Greene’s book, for those who are challenged by time and priorities at least read Chapter 7 ” Brains and Belief” for the full context. It’s worth it and I’d love to hear from those who do through this forum. Thanks for sharing all your comments.
andrew g simpson, Sun 17 Oct, 23:23
Thanks to all for the additional comments. My apologies to Newton for linking him up with a tragedy by leaving out the “w” in my last comment about Newtown. I’m glad to know that my Piper book helped influence someone. However, “reaching out” to more orthodox Christians is not so easy. All of my orthodox friends seem convinced that it is all demonic and won’t even begin to take a look at it.
I may have mentioned this a few weeks ago, not sure, but I decided to get rid of some of the books in my collection. We have two “LittleLibrary.org” stations within a mile of my house—where you leave books for others to pick up or choose for yourself. During my daily walks, I have left off more than 50 books at the two stations over the past three months. but I don’t think anyone has taken even one of them. Meanwhile the romance and murder novels are gone in a day.
Incidentally, I read “The Subtle Energy Body” book some years ago and found it very interesting.
Michael Tymn, Sun 17 Oct, 23:03
Regarding Michael’s perceptive discussion of the Newtown atrocity (which follows the Piper post), let me respectfully point out that few serious Christian theologians of recent vintage—outside conservative Evangelist or reactionary Roman Catholic schools—go anywhere remotely near the puppeteer caricature of God, the big guy in the sky pulling the strings, so often and easily attacked as a strawman. I suggest that the criticism we spiritualists make of our materialist opponents, that they are unfamiliar with the evidence yet disparage it, applies with equal force to many spiritualist critics of Christian theology, who are largely unfamiliar with its major thinkers of the modern era. I, for example, came to spiritualism from a liberal Christianity (which I passionately retain) grounded in concepts of God totally compatible with what I found in “Spirit Teachings” and other foundational spiritualist works. Ditto for views of scripture, Jesus, the church, the afterlife, etc. Spiritualists have potential friends and allies in a good portion of current Christendom, more than most of them realize. Shouldn’t we consider reaching out to them by starting on the right foot, by first becoming acquainted with where Christian theology is at as opposed to where it was?
Newton E. Finn, Sun 17 Oct, 18:29
Thanks, Michael, for calling our attention to the prior blog post about Leonora Piper. No one is as effective as you in getting clearly and directly to the heart of spiritualism, cutting through the “bosh.” What a goldmine of material you are leaving us with! Recently, I wanted to introduce an old friend, at one time a strict orthodox Christian, to the essence of spiritualism. So what I did was give him two books. The first was your book on Mrs. Piper, which I inscribed as “the context of the teaching.” The second was “Spirit Teachings,” which I inscribed as “the content of the teachings.” Together, the books worked as I had hoped they would, and there is now one more of us who gets the big picture…as best we can see it from here.
Newton E. Finn, Sun 17 Oct, 16:37
Thanks Michael for the link. I think it’s a right idea that positive thoughts would lead to solutions and a better world. I’m sure that it would be better to send positive thoughs to warzones and discriminating countries than soldiers and weapons.
Chris, Sun 17 Oct, 15:10
I don’t know if it was jonathan Hunter or Sanaya who asked to send light to those places ruled by darkness. Why light and no ideas of solution, you can ask? Well, the people of those places have to find the solutions their selves, its their path to enlightment. The light will eventually bring them to the solution to come out of that darkness…and the more we send light with our consciousness, the more it can help them. Would it not be a wonderfull experiment if everybody in the world would send their positive light to Afghanistan for example or Syria or Jerusalem and than wait and see some time if there comes a positive change in the local situation? Maybe that’s the secret of the co- creative power that we have.
Your December 2012 blog is a “keeper’ too. I find myself agreeing with every single line you wrote or quoted in that article. I think that part of what is wrong with Western human societies is exactly what you pointed out. There is so much negative belief in mass in America, Canada, Britain, and France, generated and perpetuated by the media, that it is no wonder that we have allowed belief in a “powerful” virus to destroy a country. We are seeing before us the power of negative beliefs and hatred to change the course of human events. Not surprising really, as it has happened many times before in the history of the world. Politically, socially, culturally, people in America are creating exactly what they desire by perpetual negative thinking. (Now I sound like Norman Vincent Peale in his book “The Power of Positive Thinking.”) As you summarized in your article, “The bottom line is that if we adopt a positive, constructive and loving attitude toward the world – other people and the Earth itself – this attitude will be reflected back to us.”
Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 17 Oct, 14:05
I think it might have been Abraham Lincoln (or Mark Twain) who said that “We are what we think about all day long.” How long will it be before Americans and others understand that? - AOD
Dear Newton, dear Mike, (both of you hugely appreciated),
Lampeter’s optometrist recently confirmed that this old man has notably good eyes - so thanks for explaining the trick of how to get higher resolution onto the computer screen. That’s where the problem lay, not in my retinae. I am grateful for my good fortune in avoiding even slight AMD so far. (But I prefer to re-read Maureen’s book from her very own (paper) copy.)
Harold Jones I knew personally. Years ago, I often convened public lectures by him at the University of Wales, Lampeter. It will be interesting to read what he said to Michael (Tymn).
Eric Franklin, Sun 17 Oct, 11:43
“New Age”, dictionary definition: “A broad movement characterized by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture, with an interest in spirituality, mysticism, holism, and environmentalism.” According to Pew Research, “New Age” beliefs include belief in reincarnation, astrology, psychics and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects like mountains or trees. Many Americans who are religiously unaffiliated also have these beliefs.
Of course suffering is only a part of human existence, but it is a very important part. These beliefs, in particular in reincarnation, seem commonly to include the assumption that the trials and tribulations of life are not as important as the human personality normally takes them, and should be understood as being ultimately temporary in the life of the soul and intended only for learning. This understanding and rationalization is supposed to greatly reduce the actual suffering experienced. I have long contended that this is ultimately somewhat naive and greatly undervalues the human side, which is what is typically actually experienced by human beings. Human personality consciousness not soul consciousness.
David Magnan, Sun 17 Oct, 11:41
I just had the opportunity to read Granville Sewell’s essay as recommended by David below. I agree with Amos that it is a “keeper.” I’d also suggest taking a look at my blog of December 17, 2012 in the archives at left and my interview with the late Howard Jones of Wales. It is titled “Where was God during the Newton Tragedy?” See http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/month/2012/12/ but scroll down past the first blog there.
Michael Tymn, Sun 17 Oct, 02:19
Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 16 Oct, 18:31
I have never understood what it means when someone labels a thought as a “new age” point of view. That almost seems like an implied put down to me. Just exactly what is a “new age point of view?”- AOD
AOD: “I think that people who get hung up over good versus evil or why “bad things happen to good people” are really hung up over materialism versus spiritualism. If one truly believed in an eventual spiritual eternal existence and all that entails well, why then should there be concern at all about the details of physical existence. I mean, how significant is it really that someone has a miserable physical existence or suffers various and sundry physical and/or emotional pains while in a physical form. Such physical existence is momentary and offers an opportunity for some to learn and grow toward spiritual perfection and, if one can have multiple chances to occupy a physical form of some kind, then others will just have to try again—-and maybe again and again until the lessons are learned.”
In response to this common perennial wisdom and “new age” point of view, I would respond that the human part of us is after all most of where we live - the part that the human animal instinctively takes as the human condition of physicality, vulnerability and often great suffering, the seeming totality of our existence.
This part of us may not ultimately be the totality of our being, but it is all there is to a great majority of human beings. To this part of us we literally are only the human personality, memories from childhood, and physical body, and claims (even if ultimately justified of course) that the trials and tribulations of life are in reality in the long term just temporary learning episodes in the vast life of the soul, are immaterial to physical life.
The soul may benefit from the cumulative learning of many lifetimes, but to the limited human personality this is often a learning that is at the painful expense of the human. There is in practice a vast divide between the human side and the soul, a divide apparently intended in human life.
But this means that appeals to “soul learning over many lifetimes” as justifying all the egregious innocent and some not so innocent sufferings of human life quite reasonably seem meaningless.
That is why some other, purely human, apologia are needed to reasonably rationalize the huge amount of innocent suffering of the world, in a spiritual context. And this is why Granville Sewell’s proposed explanation seems to me so important. It doesn’t justify such human realities in a way based on some supposed learning by a vast soul consciousness which is divorced from the human.
David Magnan, Sat 16 Oct, 17:55
Regarding Maureen Lockhart’s book free to read on the net (via the link in my prior comment), the trick, as many of you more tech-savvy types know, is to go to the bottom and click full screen, then click single page, then use zoom to increase the size of the text. You wind up with a very readable manuscript, even for an old man with failing eyes. I’ve just started the book, but so far it’s well written and extremely thought-provoking. Thanks again, Eric, for alerting us to it.
Newton E. Finn, Sat 16 Oct, 16:58
Yes, that’s the book. I am amazed, but glad, that our work is available free on the Internet. We received only about 3200 dollars for all that research, writing, editing, polishing until more or less perfect, well over a year of sweat, blood and hard thought. Maureen’s earthly legacy, I suppose. Her friends regard it so; without me suggesting any such thing Krystyna Krayevska of the University of Wales read part of Maureen’s Preface when we, an informal group of her friends, laid her discarded physical body, that had caused her so many years of pain, to rest in woodland here in West Wales just a few weeks ago. I hope her real essence, her spirit Being, her Self, is glad that the book is still readily available - though the definition is too poor for me to magnify it enough to read it from the computer screen. I hope you are managing. I am lucky. I have a couple of the last paper copies to re-read and enjoy. I am going to bed right now, to read some more before sleep . . .
Eric Franklin, Fri 15 Oct, 22:49
Dear Eric and other interested readers, I think the highly recommended book, including the key chapter, is free to read on the net right here:
Please correct me, Eric, if I’m wrong.
Newton E. Finn, Fri 15 Oct, 18:50
I have just re-read something, and it seems to me to provide, to minds of an intellectual habit, better evidence of continued life after ‘death’ than most other merely intellectual treatments of the subject.
It is in a recent book now out of print but still available second hand, often at more than its original retail price: ‘The Subtle Energy Body’, published by Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, 2010. Pages 261 to 266 may be particularly interesting, with the preceding pages from 256 (about Putoff and Targ’s and Pat Price’s work) for connection (though reading the whole of chapter 15 is recommended). Please tell Mike’s blog how you react when you have read this.
Eric Franklin, Fri 15 Oct, 11:28
David, thanks for the link well worth reading and pondering. Likely in overly-simplistic fashion, I’ve come to see evil as essential to creation, God having to create Not-God in order to bring into being something fundamentally other than, separate from, Himself. Flip the classic divine attributes and I think you have a pretty fair scientific description of nature, meaning the 5% or so of the “physical” world in which we find ourselves (the rest being currently “dark”). This is, of course, not to say that God and his angels are not with us in Not-God, supporting us, urging and assisting us to make it as much like the next world (closer to, less separate from Him) as possible. Thus Jesus prays that the Kingdom of Heaven come on earth, and commands us to live to make it so. As Michael repeatedly points out (as did the author of your link), had God created only heaven we wouldn’t be able to be, be able to become, who we are.
Newton E. Finn, Thu 14 Oct, 14:57
Who defines the meaning of the word ‘evil’? God, or us? There’s a verse somewhere in the Old Testament that says “If there is evil in the city have I [God] not done it? That may not be quite verbatim, but no translation can have the authority of being verbatim, so it’s near enough. What if it’s true? What would be the explanation?
There’s rather a lot of very vague argument in today’s comments, though Michael (Tymn) is lucid and rational, as ever, but Wendy Zammit’s contribution makes up for that, and provokes careful, grateful, thought, and Newton’s realisation that life beyond this one is not a matter for discussion but for inexpressible gratitude to the Proprietor of life deserves even more emphasis than any of s could give it.
Eric Franklin, Wed 13 Oct, 22:30
Whatever God is, he does not look like a human earthling. God is beyond our ability to describe him. He is not the same minute by minute, day by day, year by year as God is constantly evolving as his being is decreased or increased by each of us as we leave and return to him. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 13 Oct, 22:05
I don’t have a problem with the existence of evil in the world, although I prefer to classify it as “adversity” and look upon lessons learned from “overcoming adversity” as the purpose of life. I like the way Elisabeth Kubler-Ross put it:
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Even though I am at 95% doubt on a human-like God, I still visualize Jesus as “Chairman of the Board” and have no need to get into the semantics of it all.
Michael Tymn, Wed 13 Oct, 21:21
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 13 Oct, 21:00
Excellent article by Granville Sewell. It is a ‘keeper’ for me. - AOD
I think that people who get hung up over good versus evil or why “bad things happen to good people” are really hung up over materialism versus spiritualism. If one truly believed in an eventual spiritual eternal existence and all that entails well, why then should there be concern at all about the details of physical existence. I mean, how significant is it really that someone has a miserable physical existence or suffers various and sundry physical and/or emotional pains while in a physical form. Such physical existence is momentary and offers an opportunity for some to learn and grow toward spiritual perfection and, if one can have multiple chances to occupy a physical form of some kind, then others will just have to try again—-and maybe again and again until the lessons are learned.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 13 Oct, 19:08
Physical life can be painful or pleasurable, fulfilling or void of any meaning at all. Neither outcome is preferable when viewed from a spiritual perspective. As Newton Finn wrote in his comment, Jesus accepted the existence of evil as a given. Jesus was smart enough to know not to over verbalize the issue of good versus evil, not to over-think it. His message was one of love, a word too weak to really convey its immenseness and its ability to erase any difference between good and evil. Jesus simply said to evil personified, “Get behind me!” and he went forward fulfilling his destiny. I think we all should do that too. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 13 Oct, 17:31
Very interesting links. Thanks! - AOD
For me, I can’t dismiss the problem of evil and suffering and just move on - it requires and deserves determined analysis and development of arguments.
The following is a paraphrasing of a short essay by Granville Sewell (at https://evolutionnews.org/2017/07/the-biggest-theological-objection-to-design/). I think it is one of the best deistic rationalizations of the reality of evil I have encountered. Of course there are other rationalizations, and of course the materialist view that no valid rationalization is possible, so just “suck it up”.
First, a vast amount of suffering is caused by the free will evil actions of human beings. Second, there is a vast amount of “natural evil” caused by the workings of the natural world, by things like disease, floods, earthquakes and volcano eruptions.
Any proposed deistic or other solution to the ancient theological problem of suffering has to explain both categories.
The basic approach in this essay is to combine various arguments that mankind’s suffering is an inevitable accompaniment of our greatest blessings and benefits.
Why pain, suffering and evil? Main points that are made:
(1) There is the observed regularity of natural law. The basic laws of physics appear to be cleverly designed to create conditions suitable for human life and development. It can be surmised that this intricate fine-tuned design is inherently a series of tradeoffs and balances, allowing and fostering human existence but also inevitably allowing “natural evil” to regularly occur. In other words, the best solution to the overall “system requirements” (which include furnishing manifold opportunities for humans to experience and achieve) inherently includes natural effects that cause suffering to human beings.
This points out that there may be logical and fundamental limitations to God’s creativity. Maybe even He can’t 100% satisfy all the requirements simultaneously. Maybe He doesn’t have complete control over nature, because that would interfere with the essential requirements for creative and fulfilling human life. After all, human achievement requires imperfection and adverse conditions to exist as a natural part of human life.
(2) There is the clear need for human free will as one of the most important “design requirements” for our reality. This inevitably leads to vast amounts of suffering caused by evil acts of humans to each other. Unfortunately, there is no way to get around that one, except to make humans “zombies” or robots, which would defeat the whole purpose of human existence.
(3) Some suffering is necessary to enable us to experience life in its fullest and to achieve the most. Often it is through suffering that we experience the deepest love of family and friends. “The man who has never experienced any setbacks or disappointments invariably is a shallow person, while one who has suffered is usually better able to empathize with others. Some of the closest and most beautiful relationships occur between people who have suffered similar sorrows.”
Some of the great works of literature, art and music were the products of suffering. “One whose life has led him to expect continued comfort and ease is not likely to make the sacrifices necessary to produce anything of great and lasting value.”
Of course, the brute fact is that there is an egregious amount of truly innocent and apparently meaningless suffering, that our instinct tells us is wrong. Is it at all worth it?
“Why does God remain backstage, hidden from view, working behind the scenes while we act out our parts in the human drama? ....now perhaps we finally have an answer. If he were to walk out onto the stage, and take on a more direct and visible role, I suppose he could clean up our act, and rid the world of pain and evil — and doubt. But our human drama would be turned into a divine puppet show, and it would cost us some of our greatest blessings: the regularity of natural law which makes our achievements meaningful; the free will which makes us more interesting than robots; the love which we can receive from and give to others; and even the opportunity to grow and develop through suffering. I must confess that I still often wonder if the blessings are worth the terrible price, but God has chosen to create a world where both good and evil can flourish, rather than one where neither can exist. He has chosen to create a world of greatness and infamy, of love and hatred, and of joy and pain, rather than one of mindless robots or unfeeling puppets.”
Overall, it all may be a vast tradeoff, and some people might conclude it isn’t a good one from the human perspective.
David Magnan, Wed 13 Oct, 17:12
Yes, David, the problem of evil (natural even more than human) has forever been the stumbling block to belief in a personal God, one active in this world. It’s interesting that Jesus accepts the existence of evil as a given (warning us only not to let it come by our own thoughts and actions) and yet at the same time has such an intimate relation with his “Abba.” All of my rather imperfect life, often falling short of the pattern Jesus set, I’ve had a passionate belief in (and relationship to) a personal God, one who would have me do my utmost to fight against evil, while also helping to heal those who suffer from it. But rather than talk about my own terribly inadequate efforts, the clearest way to make my point is to quote Michael quoting Imperator. “Faith to be real must be outside the limits of caution, and be fired by something more potent and effective than calculating prudence, or logical deduction, or judicial impartiality. It must be the fire that burns within, the mainspring that regulates the life, the overmastering force that will not be at rest. This is that faith that Jesus spoke of when He said of it that it was able to move mountains.” I’m about to leave a world in which there are towering mountains yet to be moved, a world where human beings continue to be exploited and oppressed, where the threat of nuclear war continues to be toyed with, where the entire ecosystem is increasingly being polluted and consumed. Have we ever had greater need for the kind of faith of which Imperator speaks? And I submit that this faith is in God, a personal God, not only in the existence of an afterlife—a gift given, like this life, only by His hand.
Newton E. Finn, Wed 13 Oct, 16:02
Michael Tymn’s article is rather delightful.
As a way of illustrating the nature of our uncertainty,
What if you were to be told : “Levitation on Earth is a well-recognized phenomenon. Moreover, it has been put under human control for everyday purposes” ?
Also: how would you regard the community of people that would have accomplished that feat?
Well, it _is_ a part of our world. For instance, magnetic levitation has its common use in Maglev trains. It works by magnetic forces countervailing the effects of the force of gravity.
But, despite feats like that, the scientific community that has made it possible harbours deep uncertainty about gravity, - in the sense that it’s dubious about its true nature. We know that the best theory we have on gravity, the general theory of relativity, ”can’t be quite right” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov98y_DCvRY)
Michael Tymn : “Perhaps I am 100% on the law of gravity, but with exceptions.”
Likewise, I wonder if there might be a possibility that the survival of bodily death happens with exceptions. It may be shocking to hear. But, lending support to this idea are well-established general observations: one: wherever there is life, there is variety, a variety that is huge, and often astonishing (https://telegra.ph/Genetics-genome-in-Dissolution-11-01); two: what Albert Schweitzer refers to when he says : “The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.”
Dorian JR, Wed 13 Oct, 14:29
Jon, Wed 13 Oct, 12:54
Dear David Magnan, and all,
Why does the great Being have to accept the human categorising mind’s restriction to being either a deistic God or a theistic one? Surely, so great a Being has the right to be either, by His/Her own free choice, whenever S/He likes?
Like any good teacher, S/He allows the universes to run according to their pre-designed modes of operation, (deistically) but when the circumstances require it, intervenes more noticeably (theistically), maybe as when supervising the yearly examinations of Her/His pupils to find out whether they have learned anything, such as the humble wisdom of learning to listen to the Teacher, not to impose restrictions on Her/Him.
I have had a few very remarkable experiences, which I acknowledge SHOULD be sufficient to give me that 100% certainty of trust that the Great Guide, Teacher and Deity deserves. I know that I do not score 100%, but pandering to my longing for some dazzling piece of evidence might not achieve 100% either.
I have to allow that ‘God’ is wiser than I am - a matter of trust as the apostle Paul said. We have no alternative, and if S/He is what we want to believe S/He is, does He/She not DESERVE that level of trust? And why can we not allow that S/He can be a Kali-Durga or other cruel being if S/He wants, but that S/He does not seem ever to choose to be that, once we show a grain of ungrudging trust, perhaps because S/He is merciful after all. Perhaps we do have evidence enough, so long as we do not nit-pick all the while.
Eric Franklin, Wed 13 Oct, 11:31
Concerning David’s comment about cognitive dissonance, I am again reminded of what Victor Hugo was told. I’ve mentioned it a number of times in this blog, but for the benefit of those who haven’t come upon it, the great writer and poet was said to be communicating with Martin Luther through a medium. He asked Luther why God doesn’t better reveal himself. The reply was:
“Because doubt is the instrument which forges the human spirit. If the day were to come when the human spirit no longer doubted, the human soul would fly off and leave the plough behind, for it would have acquired wings. The earth would lie fallow. Now, God is the sower and man is the harvester. The celestial seed demands that the human ploughshare remain in the furrow of life.”
Michael Tymn, Wed 13 Oct, 07:00
In my comment about comparative negligence statutes, I did not mean to suggest that percentages can be applied to the outcome itself but rather to the belief or conclusion of the jury after examining the evidence for and against.
Michael Tymn, Wed 13 Oct, 06:50
Thanks for the comment concerning believing vs. knowing. I should have mentioned this, but I have never had a “knowing” experience that I know of and therefore it is beyond me.
I have heard many NDErs say they no longer fear death and now believe with certainty that they will live on after death, but I have always wondered whether they were referring to “absolute certainty” or moving from doubt to a very high degree of certainty. I appreciate your comment in this regard.
Michael Tymn, Wed 13 Oct, 06:42
To answer your question about connecting with others of like mind, you might consider subscribing to “Psychic News.” You might also consider joining the Society for Psychical Research and receiving its publications. Perhaps someone who lives in England will have other suggestions.
Thanks to you and others for their comments here. They are much appreciated.
Michael Tymn, Wed 13 Oct, 06:27
We recently asked people in our Facebook group “Afterlife Research and Education Discussion” this question. We had 62 people sharing answers - all of which referred to stunning personal experiences.
Victor and I were fortunate to have personal experiences talking to materialised spirits every week for 7 years as members of physical medium David Thompson’s home circle. We witnessed more than 100 reunions of people in spirit with a living loved one - reunions like this one. http://www.victorzammit.com/afterlifevoices/nick.mp3. My own father materialised and talked to me in front of 40 people. He told me things that no-one in the room could have known. They he pressed into my hand a piece of paper with his signature on it.
Wendy Zammit, Wed 13 Oct, 02:57
Newton E. Finn: “Now is probably not the time to get into this more deeply, but I (like Eric) am queasy about believing in the afterlife more than one believes in its source, its ground, its giver. It seems too akin to accepting creation without the Creator, and look where that has gotten us.”
Some thoughts on this. I agree that there must be a hyperintelligent Creator of this world responsible for instance for the creation of the first life (origin or life research has failed abysmally in trying to find a naturalistic undirected pathway), the obvious fine tuning of the laws of physics, the beginning of the Universe with the Big Bang, and much else. Something, especially a very extremely organized something, does not come from absolutely nothing, short of proposing magic.
But a major question is whether it is a deistic or a theistic God, that is whether it is a Being that does not interact with its creation, or is it a personal Being interacting in every moment with its creatures and the rest of creation.
I won’t even try to answer this question, except to point out that the major argument of atheists against the existence of God is the age-old problem of suffering, and the deistic (the non-interfering Great Creator and Lawgiver concept) has considerably less of a problem. Centuries of Christian theistic apologia have only chipped away at it. I myself much prefer the theistic concept, but there is this problem.
David Magnan, Wed 13 Oct, 00:20
Pete Marley, Tue 12 Oct, 16:58
I would like to thank you for your books and weekly blogs. I would also like to thank Keith P for his excellent YouTube videos.
I have been reading widely in this area since reading Colin Wilson in the 1970’s who was incidentally born in my home town of Leicester.
No one amongst my family or friends shares my interest, too morbid etc. At times it feels a bit like ploughing a lonely furrow.
Do you have any suggestions about how to hook up with like minded people who may live nearer with a view to trying to sharing ideas ?
Keep up the the good work
Pete M Leicester England
What a reasonable brief, perfectly balanced, statement of the rational view your most recent comment is.
Eric Franklin, Tue 12 Oct, 16:14
This is a wonderfully clear and concise post by Michael, and I and many of his readers will find ourselves in substantial agreement with both his evidence and its assessment. But what I find missing, and hope will be explored in a future post, is not the anthropomorphic god that Michael and most of here have little confidence in, but rather the God that the highest spirits who have communicated with us—the Imperator group and Patience Worth, for example, not to mention the Chairman of the Board—unreservedly and eagerly point us toward as “Father.” Surely this is a metaphor, but does it not express an essential and vital truth? One of the favorite theologians of my younger days (Teilhard de Chardin), in addressing the question whether God should be conceived of as personal or impersonal, suggested that we conceive of the deity as super-personal—aware, intentional, purposeful, loving, compassionate, etc. but to an infinite degree beyond our comprehension. Now is probably not the time to get into this more deeply, but I (like Eric) am queasy about believing in the afterlife more than one believes in its source, its ground, its giver. It seems too akin to accepting creation without the Creator, and look where that has gotten us.
Newton E. Finn, Tue 12 Oct, 15:38
David and Amos,
I agree that intellectually it’s difficult or maybe impossible to have 100% certainty about things that are seemingly beyond measurement. It the experience itself that brings the knowing. That’s why a lot of the accounts that Michael writes about are so compelling, because they were written down by people who had impressive professional lives (and we assume they were sane and competent) and having witnessed phenomena that didn’t fit into the prevailing scientific worldview, rather than ignore it, they pursued it wanting to know more, often to their detriment.
I’m thinking of people such as Oliver Lodge, William Crookes, Arthur Conan Doyle and Lord Dowding. All became convinced that death is not really death because of their experiences. I imagine they also read what literature was available, Dowding certainly did, but without those experiences I doubt Michael would be writing about them now.
I think the difference today is, an academic or any busy person is less likely to get involved with long periods of meditation, endless sitting with mediums, remote viewing, spending time at the Monroe Institute (learning how to go out of body), developing lucid dream states, or whatever, and if they do, they do it in a personal capacity. All of these are gateways to experiences that suggest we are more than our physical bodies. That might not prove survival but it points in that direction.
Jon, Tue 12 Oct, 10:26
Absolute certainty is extremely elusive, especially for an intellectual. For an intellectual, the only absolute 100% certainty can be that he himself exists as a thinking being - Descarte’s famous foundation of philosophical thought: “I think therefore I am”. All else could at least possibly be sham or illusion of some sort. Even the first hand experience of being out of the body in an intense NDE. There is still doubt that the experience was of some sort of reality.
That’s what it means to hold the intellect first and foremost in the self. Even such an experience would not convince a determined closed minded materialist of survival, or even just a totally objective agnostic on the subject.
Even if the NDE had veridical elements that were later confirmed by investigators, it would not be enough, since some other explanation of the evidence would always be at least remotely possible, for instance that the confirmation was fabricated by the investigators. As long as the possibiity of an alternate explanation exists, no matter how small, then absolute certainty can’t be had.
I think the best a person can do when it comes to looking at the survival evidence is what was outlined in this post. Exhaustively and objectively examine the empirical evidence going back to the mid 19th century and use abductive reasoning to the best explanation, which is survival and some sort of afterlife. Recognize that certainty is elusive in this complex physical world, and make a subjective judgement. Somewhere in the 95% to 98% region looks right to me - a high but not overwhelmingly high probability. I don’t expect it can get any better than that for a person to whom the intellect is foremost or at least very important. I guess perpetually living in a state of cognitive dissonance is the price that must be paid.
David Magnan, Tue 12 Oct, 03:21
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 12 Oct, 00:08
You have pointed out a very important point. That point is that there is a difference between believing something is true and knowing it is true. ‘Knowing” is not weighed in percentages. It is an all or nothing at all understanding of fact. You are one of the lucky ones to have had an experience which provides that ‘knowing’ for you. - AOD
Eduardo Jorge Fulco,
Reports from people who have experienced an NDE suggest that those people believe that their experience was ‘real’. Very few if any people who experience an NDE can be convinced that their experience was not real. Many of them say something to the effect that the experience was “realer than real”; that their vision was clearer than ever before, they could see in 360 degrees and people blind from birth reported that they were able to see.
I think these experiences are the crux of the afterlife in terms or what is real or not real. The often-quoted words of Jesus that, ”In my father’s house there are many mansions.” is apropos here, corroborated by some mediums who say that people experience a heaven of their own making, they return to an age in which they felt and looked their best. Patience Worth channeled by Pearl Curran has written that people return to “yesteryear”. Not all people experience the same ‘heaven’. They enjoy hobbies and activities which provided comfort and pleasure for them when they were alive in a physical form. They smoke cigars and drink whiskey if that was their desire on earth. All of this is real to them but is it a physical realness or is it a mental realness? After all, what is real to us on earth now is real only in so much that the brain allows us to experience it as real. – AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 11 Oct, 22:50
What springs to mind is, what we mean by belief and knowing? Personally, I’ve never been at 90, 95 or 98.8%. When it comes to survival of consciousness I was at zero – I didn’t believe it for a minute, I never had – then overnight I went to 100% and so far, that has never wavered. Although it might sound like it, that’s not a desire for certainty on my part, It’s a knowing.
As you and I have discussed before, this knowing came without any wisdom or study on my part, it was just the result of a head trauma. I am also aware that this knowing might be something biological, something in my brain. In the same way a brain tumour can lead someone to violence, it’s possible that I’m living in a deluded state due to some brain malfunction. But I feel as sane as I ever have. More so.
All that said, there might be things you are certain about – things you know. For instance, if I asked you if you love you wife or children, you might answer yes or no but you probably wouldn’t say that you are 98% sure you love your wife. Assuming that’s the case, is there any reason why this subject should be any different, because what is knowing but a feeling?
Jon, Mon 11 Oct, 22:31
Assuming that our making an effort to live ethically does please the Great All-Being, (and why would it not?), waiting to see whether we continue to live in a better dwelling place or whether we perish seems a feckless and irreverent attitude. Without wanting to make an onerous duty of ‘good works’ (as the RC church does) but wanting rather to act rightly from the heart, which is only outwardly the same thing, inwardly VERY different, I would want to act safely and act well all my Earth-life. This is not a matter of interesting speculation. It is a matter of timeless consequence and importance. Not all of us seem to realise that.
Eric Franklin, Mon 11 Oct, 22:04
Oh my god, Stafford! Who pulled your chain? You must not have been paying attention to anything I have said over the past 10 years of so on this site and Michael Tymn’s previous one. If you could only see my messy house, you would see that by every chair and by every bed there must be 10 to 15 opened books that I have been reading at the same time. Many of them were recommended by Michael Tymn and many others were my selections but they all deal with the paranormal, spiritism, reincarnation, life after death etc. etc. etc. This has been going on for the past 50 or 60 years or so. (Ask Michael, he knows!)
To answer your questions—asked in a fit of being challenged I will grant—- I respond with a explosive “YES”; I have done my homework, read many, many books, looked at many, many videos and websites regarding supposed empirical evidence of an afterlife. I think that is why I am a “50-50” kind of guy” as you say. (Just like William James.)
I think the more one knows, the more one is apt to “make a fetish of agnosticism”. That is, the more one knows, the more one knows that one does not know. AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 11 Oct, 21:51
My percentage thinking is based on comparative negligence statutes in various states of the U.S. They vary by state. In my state, the jury is asked to apportion responsibility for an accident. For example, if, based on the evidence offered, the jury concludes that the defendant is 80% responsible for the accident, he owes the plaintiff 80% of the proven damages. If the jury concludes the defendant is 50% responsible, he is liable for only 50% of the damages. If the jury decides the plaintiff is 51% or more responsible for the accident, he gets nothing. I think there are a few states in which he might get 49% of his damages, but I am not sure.
Again, it varies by state, but the point is that everything is not like pregnancy and death.
Michael Tymn, Mon 11 Oct, 21:14
Believing in the afterlife. Why isn’t there a certainty? Can you always believe what you see, hear, smell, taste or feel? Are you never fooled by your senses? And yet you keep on trusting them for most of the time. And when science says that solid objects aren’t solid, we believe them ,but do we after that knowledge see a table different? Doesn’t it hurt anymore when we run into that table from that moment? Our senses are limited, even so our knowledge. All the synchronicities, the stories, the NDE’s,the experiences of numerous experiences of mediumship and you still don’t believe it? Return to the last blog about Sarah…isn’t that too much of coincidence? Well, everybody follows his own path wether you believe it or not. But listen to the messages they bring us and live by them. The world would be a better world that is for sure. Aren’t we searching too much for signs and listen too litlle to what is said? Don’t worship the messengers but listen and do what they tell us. In that case we are at the best possible way prepared for the afterlife for those who believe it.And if not, we made this world a better world. Always a win-win situation.
Chris, Mon 11 Oct, 21:09
Dear Mr Tymn! Thank you very much for your great articles. Good old parapsychology must be remembered, important cases must be told. I worked for some years at the institute of Professor Bender in Freiburg, and since 9 years I have my blog (daily, up to now 2400 articles), manipogo.de. Your blog is on the blogroll, and I wrote 8 articles on the basis of your stories, always naming the source (your name, your blog). First of October I had a piece about Sir William Barrett, and it was read almost 5.000 times! So there is hope. Thanks to you, also Germany will know more. Many greetings Manfred Poser
P.S.: I have to enter a word in an image below. It’s “young57”. Great. I’m born in ‘57, and I feel young.
Manfred Poser, Mon 11 Oct, 20:04
The problem, AOD, with “waiting to find out,” is that this only works if there IS an afterlife. Otherwise, if death brings oblivion, we will obviously come to know nothing. As I’ve said before, I think this simple fact, that only the existence of an afterlife would provide a conclusive answer to the most profound and pressing question of human existence, is, while far from a proof, a subtle suggestion that there is an afterlife. If the universe is indeed the mental one it appears to be, “constructed” by information and operating via information processing, then wouldn’t such a universe at least partially contradict or defeat itself by withholding from its possibly most conscious and inquisitive species a definitive answer to its ultimate concern?
Newton E. Finn, Mon 11 Oct, 19:58
Amos, have you made a fetish of agnosticism? Is it cool to be a fence-sitter, a 50-50 kind of guy? Have you done your homework? Have you read any of the many books that present the empirical evidence of an afterlife? I suspect not.
Stafford Betty, Mon 11 Oct, 19:49
As I have read, some scholars of science indicate that absolute certainty cannot be achieved in psychic or parapsychological research. Only in logic and mathematics can one speak of absolute certainty. One could speak of sufficient certainty or something like that, but not of absolute certainty.
In one of the research fields, NDEs, according to NDERF statistics, the near-death experience was definitely real for 95.6% of the respondents who went through an NDE and for 4% it was probably real. These very high percentages lead us to wonder if all the respondents, or at least a large majority, who went through an NDE were mistaken or “naïve”; or if their brain hemispheres were malfunctioning in such a way that after their experiences they would qualify them as real. If this were so, they would not be able to distinguish what is real from what is not real in their daily lives.
I believe that the evidence in the various fields can lead us to a strong degree of certainty. Without, of course, going into what reincarnation implies.
Eduardo Jorge Fulco, Mon 11 Oct, 19:40
Let’s see now. Is belief something to which one can apply a percentage? Less that 100 % belief means that one ‘kind-of’ thinks something is true. But isn’t belief something like pregnancy or death. One cannot be 50% pregnant or 50% dead. One is either pregnant or not, dead or not! One either believes something to be true or not!
I think one can take a stance of not knowing for sure that something is true. There may be things that suggest that something might be true but how can one apply a percentage to that? How about believing beyond a “reasonable doubt”? That is, after considering all of the “evidence’ weak as some of it may be, one can come to the conclusion that to harbor any doubt is not reasonable given the available evidence. That doesn’t mean that something is conclusively 100% true, it just means that no contrary evidence has been presented which negates the conclusion that something is probably or reasonably true.
I have never been to Antarctica but I believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Antarctica exists, based upon the evidence I have seen and heard about, that other people have presented who have been there. I trust those people—supported by evidential photographs—-to be honest in their presentation of the facts that Antarctica exists. Unfortunately, that is the weak point in most belief systems. One must trust that the people presenting the information are honest, first of all, and that they have not misunderstood what they were seeing, hearing and subsequently reporting.
For me a belief in life after death is a toss-up. Fifty percent chance of oblivion and fifty percent change of survival. I stoically cling to that position even though I know that there is a lot of evidence, yes evidence, that consciousness survives the dissolution of the physical form. Why can I not move from that on-the-fence position? Probably, at the core of my being I just do not trust people to tell the truth. Not that they are necessarily lying but that they either don’t know the truth, or due to their lack of reasoning skills are misinterpreting what they see or hear or are simply gullible. There are of course conniving cheats who, for personal notoriety or financial gain will fabricate anything that will further their cause.
A far as Michael’s article goes, the conversation between Confucius and Dr. Neville Wymant is really beyond belief but if true, it is high on my list of irrefutable evidence of survival of consciousness, perhaps it was not really Confucius but somebody, somewhere apparently knew a lot about ancient Chinese language. Also, the multiple foreign languages evidenced during seances with Etta Wriedt and other mediums are difficult to explain away.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 11 Oct, 17:40
So, what now? Is there survival of consciousness or not? Well, my dears, I guess we will all have to wait to find out. - AOD
Like you, Michael - after making numerous afterlife evidence documentaries containing loads of positive evidence - I am a 98 per center. So I have often asked this same question in your title. What would absolutely convince me?
In my case the solid materialisation of my mother and/or father, with their characteristic appearance and conversation and their knowledge of family history of which I was unaware but which could be checked for accuracy afterwards - that would do it for me. So I disagree with your suggestion that being absolutely certain might not be in our best interests, despite our hoping such an experience would be personally transformative and beneficial. After all, even though it was a long time ago, many early spiritualists did become 100 per cent convinced through evidence you have rejected as being insufficient. Yet I doubt this spoiled their subsequent lives or prevented them from striving to live the best way they were capable of.
Keith P in England, Mon 11 Oct, 14:56
It is no surprise to me to realise that one could go SOME way to resolving the problem of the remaining uncertainty by starting (yet again) with the theory of Relativity. IT REALLY IS RELEVANT.
Time is a fiction of the MEMORISING MIND. We only think it’s real because we remember something that is no longer the case and if we wait for something we expect it sometimes arrives. Hence we think there are such things as past, present, and future.
We think an event is no longer here to be observed because we remember it. Ergo, we think (wrongly), there is such an entity as the past. It is no longer in OUR world. Let’s call that the past. Similarly the ‘future’. Let’s invent that word for reference to such things expected or hoped for.
But we believe that there is a Being Who holds all in her/his hands. (Verbal language is limiting - forgive the ‘his/her’ necessity. A great conscious Being can hardly be referred to as an ‘it’.) Even totally ‘Godless’ science already suggests strongly that timeless connections do exist between distant regions of what we call the universe, connecting them without messaging. (Alain Aspect, 1982) We have called that ‘Entanglement’. If the whole of what IS actually does contain ALL it must contain all realities at ALL ‘times’. That Great Reality, that Wholeness of Everything, cannot be unconscious nor can be Him/Herself subject to time. That is what the word ‘eternality’ means. We conceive OUR lives to be bounded by birth and death. That Great Being is conscious of us both before and after our lives on a planet that is subject to relativity and so is productive of illusions in our minds like time. A Whole that contains ALL CANNOT be subject to Relativity, which is a function of the velocity of messaging between its parts, ie, for our little universe, the speed of light.
But be advised. Do not hasten to proclaim that you now refute this argument, however badly I may have attempted to express it in words. THINK first. Get into your head the NON-VERBALISABLE conceptions that are in it first. “See” what I mean before you try to answer. Otherwise you will make fools of yourselves.
And realise that someone whose writing ended up in what we call the Bible, its canon complete several millennia ago, realised the argument by saying somewhere that God speaks of things that are not as though they were, and that a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. I expect some Hindu or Buddhist sage realised it too.
Eric Franklin, Mon 11 Oct, 14:45
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