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Just Wondering (about death)!

Posted on 11 August 2015, 7:50

While recently accompanying a granddaughter around the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, so much of which sets forth biological evolution as fact, I wondered if fundamentalist Christians – at least those fundamentalists rejecting Darwinism – were among the visitors and how they reacted to it all.  I wondered how there can be such absolute certainty when there is still that “missing link.”  I thought about the comment by Alfred Russel Wallace, (below) co-originator with Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, that the evidence for a spirit world is as good as the evidence for evolution and wondered if the evidence is still as good as it was back then, concluding that it was much greater in both areas. 


I further wondered about the quantum aspect; that is, if there is no such thing as “time,” then how do things “evolve”?  Of course, that question doesn’t help religion, either, since even Creationism involves time, if only seven days. As with reincarnation, I have come to the conclusion that biological evolution is much more complicated than we realize and for the most part beyond human comprehension, and so I don’t concern myself too much with our origins.

I concern myself more with where we are headed than from where we came and wonder why others are not so concerned.  I recalled that when Professor James Hyslop (below) was teaching philosophy and logic at Columbia University, a fellow professor sneered at his interest in psychical research.  When Hyslop published articles that strongly supported non-mechanistic theories, the fellow professor tried to have him fired.  In his defense, Hyslop, noting scientific efforts to find a species of useless fish to support Darwin’s theory, asked “why it is so noble and respectable to find whence man came, and so suspicious and dishonorable to ask and ascertain whither he goes?”  Pondering on that, I wondered why paleontologists are so much more respected than psychical researchers and parapsychologists.


As I further toured the Smithsonian and came upon the displays dealing with space exploration, I wondered why people are so interested in exploring “outer” space and so little interested in exploring “inner” space. I wondered about the benefits of space exploration if life is nothing but a march into an abyss of nothingness, as fundamentalist science would have us believe.  Who benefits and in what way?  Will our descendants find greater meaning in life if we find something out there?  What is the point of it all?  I wondered how Smithsonian officials would react if someone proposed they set aside a building devoted to discoveries in psychical research and parapsychology.  No doubt, they would scoff at the idea. 

The July 28 issue of the Washington Post carried an interview with Harvard geneticist Jack Szostak, who won a share of the 2009 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine, about his attempts to create life in a test tube.  “What I hope this will show people is that there is a perfectly natural progression from chemistry to life and that the origin of life is not something magical,” Szostak was quoted, going on to say that a supernatural explanation is not needed.  I wondered about his definition of “supernatural” and further wondered how the world might be better off if he were to succeed in completely ruling out a supernatural explanation.  Would everyone be happier knowing that life is meaningless, nothing but a march into that abyss?  Is life just about making life better for future generations?  I wondered what happens when Utopia is achieved – when some future generation experiences only happiness.  Will it be all eat, drink, and be merry?  What will life be like without challenges and adversity?  To what end the progeny, to which generation full fruition?  Will that future generation go the way of Nero and Rome, and then will the pursuit of happiness start all over again?  Then again, I wondered if creating life in a test tube proves anything relative to the existence of the soul.  Might not a soul attach itself to that life in the same way it attaches itself to a fetus or a newborn? 

I visited a 99-year-old friend at the Old Soldier’s Home in Washington, D.C. and after seeing the pain and misery he seemed to be in I wondered why anyone would want to live to be that old.  As near as I could determine, when he wasn’t sleeping he was in pain, and so he preferred to spend most of his time sleeping.  I wondered if his fundamentalist religious beliefs helped him deal with it all.  He was not in condition to talk about it this visit, but when I visited him two years ago he talked about seeing his family in heaven at some far off date, though he did not seem anxious to join them, seemingly looking forward to making it to 100 and beyond.  Most of the other old soldiers I observed at the retirement home appeared depressed and despondent and I wondered what their beliefs are. 

Going south, we visited Universal Studios in Orlando.  As we toured the new Harry Potter theme parks, I wondered how so many people can get so excited about a fantasy world involving some elements of spirituality while taking no interest at all in a real spiritual world.  I wondered why fiction appeals to so many when there is enough non-fiction concerning a spiritual world to delve into.

On my 11-hour flight home to Hawaii on American Airlines, I sat in the coach section, the seats moved even closer to each other than on previous flights, and wondered why they don’t call it what it really is – “steerage,” and if that is what it feels like to be buried alive.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books. 

Next post:  August 24


why must it be one or the other? why must things be “yes” or “no” or right and wrong. if these concepts were true then all we would need is black and white! but we have an infinate amount of coulors in between. the perfectness of nature and evolution is obvious because its here for us to see. time,however you want to view it, is merely a man made tool to measure events and all events have to start somewhere, so the the question is simple, in the begining some type of intellect made something from nothing! and thats beyond anything we think we can imagine.

tony, Sun 4 Oct, 12:51

Mike, I am replying late to this, since at the time it was published I was just recovering from a trip over the Atlantic in “steerage”!

One could go on and on about the quantum physics view of time (not to mention the Einsteinian relativistic one, and the one that shows up in precognition experiments), and about current views of evolution.  For now I’ll just recommend a book from the beginning of the hot new field of epigenetics, cell biologist Bruce Lipton’s “Biology of Belief.”  That does a great deal to bring biochemistry and the study of consciousness into harmony, more than I’ve seen elsewhere.  I’ll have to check out “Signature in the Cell.”

Elene Gusch, Mon 24 Aug, 01:46

Well, I don’t know Leslie.  I propose that you are a materialist and you say I am wrong but then you seem to require evidence of some tangible sort, although you accept evidence provided through a medium if you judge that the medium is credible.  For me, mediums do not provide the best evidence although they appear to provide one piece of the puzzle.  I think that the reincarnation accounts as studied and documented by the late Dr. Ian Stevenson and now Dr. Jim Tucker provide some of the stronger evidence although the reports of Leonora Piper, Gladys Osborne Leonard and other mediums are impressive.  I also think that some of the more recent mediums, especially Christopher Stillar and George Anderson provide convincing evidence.  Certainly the collection of psychic events recorded in books by Frederic Myers, Edmund Gurney and Walter Franklin Prince are suggestive of an afterlife as are some of the reports of people who have had a ‘near death experience’.

Most people are not familiar with the extensive collection of materials from Pearl Curran and Patience Worth but for me, the compendium of their writings and what they suggest in their entirety provide the most untainted and enigmatic evidence of something existing beyond this reality. Although unlikely, it could be that Pearl Curran’s subconscious mind created the writings but after extensive study of the life of Pearl Curran it seems improbable to me that her subconscious or conscious mind had the knowledge to be the creator of the works.

I too need some evidence to convince me of an afterlife.  I cannot find reassurance in faith alone but I don’t discard out of hand that there may be a higher reality of which I am a part and part of that reality includes an intelligence or consciousness that holds it all together.  Quests to find that intelligence have been going on since man became a conscious being. There must be something inherent in man that won’t let go of the concept of ‘God’.  One would think that after thousands of years of looking for God and not finding him to everyone’s satisfaction with evidence that humanity would just let it go.  Just forget about God and go on living life to the fullest without consequences, not worrying whether or not one will survive death or offend God.  Perhaps humanity has come to that conclusion today and the cultural degradation and social unrest and hatred we see about us may be a result of letting go of the ‘God Idea’.

Surely you don’t expect me, a limited human to be able to provide “proof of the existence of such divinity.  .  .  ”  And I would say that not everyone sees divinity as an all or nothing hypothesis”  There are some of us that see multiple causes working together to effect physical reality, e.g., evolution, chance.

Yes, we rely on human senses and inventions to tell us something about the reality in which we live and that may be the reason why there is so much difficulty in perceiving other realities.  Our ability as humans to perceive beyond what our senses tell us certainly limits us.  For a blind person, a rainbow doesn’t exist nor does color as there is no way to perceive these things other than through the sense of sight.

I think it is simplistic to think that God “killed the three year old child next door” or to blame God for the death of an uncle from blood poisoning.  There are certain laws of physicality that operate without God’s pointed direction.  Those laws apply equally to all of us and no one is singled out for the wrath of God.  Am I to view God as the ‘Master Killer in the Sky”——-because all living things die?

In a poem written by Patience Worth where she calls out to Death to show himself, he is exposed as the ““Gift of God” when she says that death is “.  .  .  the gift o’ Him! The key to There! The Love o’ earth! Aye and hate hath made o’ man to know thee not—-Thou!  Thou!  O Death!”  All living things die and from that other perspective death allows consciousness to escape the physical world and enter into a greater world of spirit.

I don’t view myself as a fervent religious person but I do believe that evidence of God is in everything around us as a builder’s hand is evidenced in the house I live in.  It is not proof that an imaginary being exists   but proof that a real being created that which I live in and see about me every day. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 23 Aug, 17:08

“Ah Leslie, a true realist; a materialist I suppose – a man looking for evidence.  If it can’t be weighed, measured, seen or felt then it doesn’t exist – right?” 
~~ Wrong!  Some are happy to accept a concept or belief on the basis of no evidence but I am not.  In the matter of the survival of the consciousness and the nature of the next life, I have no direct evidence (as in personal experience, so I must rely on the experience of other people.  To accord veracity to their reported experiences (via mediums mainly), I must judge by their credibility.  If their credibility appears sound, I will accept what they have said.  Their evidence for the afterlife can’t be ‘weighed, measured, seen or even felt . . .’ but I will accept their evidence until such time as equally credible evidence is presented to the contrary.
“But of course one can only evidence those things which as a human can be perceived through human senses or inventions and even when it is perceived one can’t be sure that one’s senses or inventions really got it right.”
~~ The human senses are all that we have to work with.  Without them, we would not be having this discussion.  This concept might well be true and it is in the same category as the various arguments to the effect that everything is imaginary, including ourselves.  My own preference is to accept Descartes!!
“I don’t think that those who have thought deeply about such things as the existence of a Divinity believe that a simple explanation will suffice.  I am not sure that Divinity or God can really be defined as it is not the same today as it was yesterday.”
~~ And the proof of the existence of such divinity is . . .?  The core problem with the divinity claim, apart from the absence of evidence, is that it is presented as an all or nothing hypothesis, as in ‘it must be a divinity and it can’t be anything else’. 
“One must look beyond the universe to find God while paradoxically God exists in everything we see around us, in the cry of a babe, the glow of clouds at sunset, the sweat of man, the flight of a bee, the song of a sparrow, the flow of grasses with a summer wind, the foam of the ocean, the chirp of a cricket, the blossoming rose and in each and every one of us. God is not only a question of causation but of being.”
~~. This is 100% the same reasons that were put to me by fervent religious persons when I was a child.  The called it proof that their concept of an imaginary god existed.  I was utterly puzzled then but have since realized that such a claim is entirely evidence free.  The same fervent religious people got very shifty when I asked them to explain why (their) god had had just killed the three year old child next door (diphtheria) or why an uncle had died of blood poisoning (I came from the pre-antibiotic age) when he was a great and honest person.
“Whether there is one planet with life or multitudinous planets, galaxies or universes with life, all life has consciousness and each consciousness is a spark, an atom of the Source Consciousness or Divinity.”
~~ Nice concept but in the same class as the chirp of the cricket.  I await the evidence.
“Aye, there’s the enigma, “We don’t know what we do not know.”
Bang on, Amos, and this colours all discussion.

Leslie Harris, Sun 23 Aug, 09:28

“Are you implying, or should I infer, that the survival of consciousness cannot be considered without first identifying a Supreme Being?”
~ Michael,
~ Totally not! 
~ I am saying that there might or might not be a supreme being.  I have yet to see any evidence for or against the concept.  (See also my reply to Amos.)
~ Personally, logic suggests to me that there is an ultimate intelligence.  There is some basis for this in the writings of some reliable sources who describe ascending levels of enlightenment in the next life after this one.  I find this reasonable and encouraging. 
~ There are some troublesome aspects to such reports in regard to the apparent lack of accountability for actions in our here and now.  They describe life review and self-assessment but no accountability.  The greatest mass murderers of our time were Hitler and Stalin, with Pol Pot running a more distant third; between them, they murdered uncountable millions of innocent people.
~ There appears to be no retribution for such deliberate barbarity and I have to wonder why.
~ Aside from that, the objective evidence for survival of the consciousness is strong.  Objective evidence for a divine management here or in the rest of the Universe so far does not exist.

Leslie Harris, Sun 23 Aug, 02:52

~ There was a time when I was probably a materialist but that was many decades ago.  Whilst I might have been a materialist, at the same time I was casting far and wide to find answers to the many things that puzzled me and for which there were no clear answers
~ There were many areas of puzzlement but the biggest of them was religion.  Logic dictated that, vehement claims to the contrary, if any one of them was right, the rest must be wrong.  It took some time for me to work out that they were all completely evidence free!!  Once that realization was established, it quickly followed that man had successfully created many gods in his own image – the whole gamut was entirely imaginary.
~ The Catholic Church developed this to a high art form.  They ruled for a very long time with the lash of fear, becoming limitlessly powerful and massively wealthy in the process.
~ I have a huge problem with the concept of a divinity that runs everything.  It is the same problem that I have with all organized religions.  All of them claim that their imaginary deity is all love, peace, understanding, enlightenment, etc., etc.  At the same time, they kill or persecute anyone that disagrees with them.  It has ever been thus and the current crop of psychopaths rampaging through the Arab world, murdering indiscriminately is a very good example.
~ But there is a converse to the claims of love and enlightenment.  If indeed this stems from a divinity, so too does ebola, cancer, plague, diphtheria and the entire host of nasties that beset the human race.  The answer to this as concocted by organized religion is that their all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful god didn’t create these things, it was Satan, which in turn means that their precious god isn’t all-powerful.  I just love it when they tie themselves in logic knots!!!
~ Perforce, I rigorously apply balance of probabilities, beyond reasonable doubt, irrefutable evidence, etc., to engineering.  (Bear in mind that a lot of my engineering was in the safety field – the prevention of death and injury in motor vehicles.)  I apply exactly the same standards to survival of the consciousness and a next life. 
~ But this cuts both ways. 
~ Again perforce, I must apply the same rigour to concepts of divine creation and oversight of this planet, our solar system, this galaxy, the billions of other galaxies and to the Universe itself.  I do not accept any claims for the survival of consciousness without adequate proof.  I do not accept any claims for divine direction without adequate proof.

Leslie Harris, Sun 23 Aug, 02:16


Are you implying, or should I infer, that the survival of consciousness cannot be considered without first identifying a Supreme Being?  I agree with you relative to “God,” whatever He, She, or It might be or not be, but I look at the evidence for survival first, independent of a God, and it meets the Beyond a Reasonable Doubt standard for me.  I can see a spirit world much more clearly than I can see a God and that does it for me.

Michael Tymn, Fri 21 Aug, 21:34

Ah Leslie, a true realist; a materialist I suppose—-a man looking for evidence.  If it can’t be weighed, measured, seen or felt then it doesn’t exist—-right?  But of course one can only evidence those things which as a human can be perceived through human senses or inventions and even when it is perceived one can’t be sure that one’s senses or inventions really got it right.

I don’t think that those who have thought deeply about such things as the existence of a Divinity believe that a simple explanation will suffice.  I am not sure that Divinity or God can really be defined as it is not the same today as it was yesterday.  One must look beyond the universe to find God while paradoxically God exists in everything we see around us, in the cry of a babe, the glow of clouds at sunset, the sweat of man, the flight of a bee, the song of a sparrow, the flow of grasses with a summer wind, the foam of the ocean, the chirp of a cricket, the blossoming rose and in each and every one of us. God is not only a question of causation but of being.

Whether there is one planet with life or multitudinous planets, galaxies or universes with life, all life has consciousness and each consciousness is a spark, an atom of the Source Consciousness or Divinity.

Aye, there’s the enigma, “We don’t know what we do not know.” - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 21 Aug, 18:39

It is difficult for me to understand that time does not exist when I experience time every day of my life. I have evolved through time so that I am not the same as I was 76 years ago as I am today.  If there was such a thing as a ‘Big Bang’ then why are we not experiencing it now if time does not exist.  Why do we talk about the Big Bang as occuring many billions of years ago and that the universe has an age; that the universe is expanding and that that expansion is slowing down (over time)? Obviously the earth has changed over time or we would not be able to live on it.

In some other reality as defined by quantum physics theory there may be no time but in the reality in which I live there definitely is time.  Perhaps in the reality that God exists and in which each of us will eventually enter there is no time. 

When discussing Intelligent Design the implication is that there is/was a designer.  To say that the designer is ‘God’ one must define God and while I think that God cannot be defined there are many people who obviously do define God.  Such definitions range from an old bearded human male to an ineffable universal consciousness or ‘Source’ of everything that is. Some believe as I do that each human consciousness is a part of God and therefore as humans we are that Source and are part of the ‘Designer’ .  That is, perhaps through each of us creation is continuing every day of our lives .

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 21 Aug, 15:58

~ I will have to be rather careful about how I phrase this but I cannot see any indication of a divine path in this Universe. 
~ To attribute what we see about us as necessarily being caused by a divinity is in no way different to the thinking in the recent past that everything we didn’t understand – earthquakes, storms, floods, disease, the stars, comets – must have been caused by gods, divinities, demons and an array of spirits. 
~ In what way is it different to now say “we don’t understand the development / evolution of the human consciousness, therefore it must be the work of a divinity?
~ Not so many decades ago, I would find myself in arguments about the matter of the probability of planets orbiting other stars.  Even amongst astronomers, of whom I knew several, there were many of maintained that this was extremely unlikely. 
~ When I asked if they subscribed to the generally accepted star-building theory, they all did.  When I asked whether, if enough detritus remained in our system to form planets, the same would not apply to most or all stars, the response was usually unhappy, uncomfortable looks.
~ Now we have planets coming out of our ears.  They are being discovered by the truckload.  And that’s just in our galaxy.
~ The probability of life on some of them is so high as to be a near certainty.  (Read Fermi if you want to start quantifying that!)  If this high probability is accepted, there follows a question.
~ If life on this ordinary little planet is all the result of a constantly present divine hand, what of the other probable intelligences?  The same divinity?  Or other divinities? 
~ Now that’s just our ordinary galaxy.  What applies to the uncountable other galaxies, each containing uncountable planets? 
~ What bothers me most about the acceptance of a divinity is the total lack of evidence.
~ And, towering above all else – we do not know what we do not know . . .

Leslie Harris, Thu 20 Aug, 07:58

Amos, thanks for the comments.  I’m curious, however, as to whether your 100% on Intelligent Design puts you at 100% on God, i.e., the Designer, whatever He, She, or It may be.

Do you write off quantum theories that time is just an illusion?  If time does not exist, how do things evolve? Or is Intelligent Design part of the illusion?

Michael Tymn, Wed 19 Aug, 21:00

I don’t know why there has to be a conflict between biological evolution and something like ‘intelligent design’.  Unless one believes in instantaneous creation could we not just be observing through the mechanisms of biological evolution the creativity of God.  I believe that it is true that living things change over time; organisms disappear and new ones appear but there is no need to exclude intelligent design from the mix just because one of the ingredients is biological evolution.  I accept 100% that living things through changes in their genetic codes change and I accept 100% that initially and on a continuing basis those changes are manipulated by a ‘designer’.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 19 Aug, 17:55


Thanks for the latest comment.  My conviction factor relative to biological evolution dropped from 98.8% certainty to 98.6% certainty, but that is still above the 98.5% beyond a reasonable doubt threshold. wink

Michael Tymn, Tue 18 Aug, 21:04

~ The phrase ‘missing link’ is a greatly overused and an over-simplification that comes up all too often.  What is in fact missing is any evidence of how the human intellect evolved to what it is today.  This is not to say that such evolution does not exist, just that just that it would be next to impossible to trace its path.
~ It is a generally accepted concept that we can reason but animals, including those from whom we must have evolved, cannot.  There are many examples of animals using tools that indicate reasoning, not blind chance, and too many to dismiss as happenstance.
~ Perhaps the most puzzling has been shown in hunting lionesses.  Documentary footage exists that show complete sequences of lionesses hunting, starting from a group having a nose to nose before they leave their resting place. 
~ One specific complete sequence that I have seen involved about six lionesses hunting wildebeest.  The environment was a vast plain of high grass on which there were many thousands of wildebeest.  The lionesses had their nose to nose, then moved towards the wildebeest.  Within minutes, all the lionesses had disappeared bar one, who made no attempt to hide herself.
~ She eventually selected a target and began stalking.  Before long, the target beast realized that it was being stalked and broke into a gallop to distance itself from the clearly evident lioness.  The lioness pursued but not in a straight line and not at full speed; it became evident that she was steering the beast.  The chase was long and passes through an area of many square miles.  Suddenly, two lionesses erupted out of the long grass, one on each side of the pursued beast and steering became evident. 
~ Then came the critical bit.  After more guiding, a lioness erupted out of the long grass DIRECTLY in front of the pursued beast – not twenty feet to the side, not ten feet to the side but dead in front. 
~ There was nothing whatsoever random about this.  There can be no question that the lionesses hid themselves just anywhere and there can be no question that the lioness who initiated the chase did not know exactly where they were.  There is no way that this could be described as instinctive because there were far too many variables.
~ The point of this anecdote is to question the whole matter of the powers to reason.
~ About the only explanation that fits is that this process evolved (in the literal sense of the word) over a very long period.
~ And it is the matter of time that seriously erodes a lot of thinking about the evolution of animals, including ourselves. 
~ Known human history is about 5000 years old.  This planet has been around for 4,500,000,000 years.  Known human history represents one nine hundred millionth of that time.  It is very hard to get a realistic perspective on that number.  Given the paucity of our knowledge of what has transpired over the 4.500,000,000 years, there a considerable number of ‘missing links’ . . .

Leslie Harris, Mon 17 Aug, 10:12

A delightful blog, Michael, both penetratingly and poignantly reflective!  Thank you for sharing your musings with us.

John F. Miller, Sun 16 Aug, 07:33

Thanks to all for the comments, and thanks, Claudio for that interesting link.

As for biological evolution, I believe in it, at least with 98.8% certainty, the same certainty I give to survival of consciousness.  However, unless I misunderstand the “missing link” part of it, I don’t think we can accept it with “absolute certainty,” i.e. 100%, as mainstream science seems to have done.  I accept that there are things beyond human comprehension or that don’t have terrestrial explanations.

Michael Tymn, Fri 14 Aug, 21:00

Less than 100 years ago, it was thought that our galaxy, which we call the Milky Way, was the entire Universe.  Not long before that, the good old Catholic Church threatened to kill some of the early astronomers who had shown that this planet wasn’t the centre of the Universe, it wasn’t even the centre of out system and the Sun did not rotate around the Earth.  Not long before that, storms, floods, volcanoes and earthquakes were the work of fearsome and vengeful gods.  Disease, sickness, disabilities and a whole list of personal nasites were caused by demons and/or insufficient reverence for many different gods.
~ Given the state of knowledge at those various times, such conclusions were not illogical.  Imaginary deities played a very useful role in this.
~ Whilst our knowledge extant is still miniscule, we have progressed to trying to understand the observable universe – mark well, the OBSERVABLE Universe!!  We have utterly no idea how big this Universe might be, where we might be geographically within it, how far it extends, why we can account for only FOUR PERCENT of what we can see . . . 
~ Within the bounds of our monumental lack of knowledge, it is not illogical to attribute this Universe to a deity of some sort, as we have done for thousands of years.
~ Perhaps the most encouraging thing to emerge from our increasing attempts at understanding is that we now realize that WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT WE DO NOT KNOW.
~ Tempting as it might be to attribute what we see around us to an old guy with a white beard and a nightshirt, there simply isn’t any evidence whatsoever to support this notion.
~ The only counter argument that I have found so far is the objective evidence for the survival of the human consciousness after physical death and the apparent progression of that consciousness to higher levels of awareness thereafter.  In this context, it is logical and believable that this progression is focused on an ultimate intelligence.
~ BUT . . . and this is a devastating ‘but’, none of the reliable objective evidence referred to above makes even the remotest reference to the creation of this Universe.  Many of the credible early communicators were eminent scientists, none of whom made any mention of the origins of the Universe.  Until such time as one of them, or someone equally credible, comes on line with a comprehensive explanation, I will maintain my current position – there is no credible objective evidence that supports a divine origin to this Universe.

Leslie Harris, Fri 14 Aug, 04:37

I agree with Keith P. that Stephen Meyer has brilliantly explained his thoughts about Intelligent Design in his book ‘Signature in the Cell’.  This is a very dense book, difficult I think for the non-biologist to understand but it definitely is worth the effort.  Meyer starts his discussion before a cell was formed. He considers the development of DNA, RNA and proteins necessary to form the first replicating cell.

Because this book is difficult to read it has not received the attention I think it should have. I recommend it highly for those who are questioning evolution and survival of the fittest as the sole mechanism for the creation of living organisms.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 12 Aug, 15:04

Your ruminations cover many fields, all of which are still evolving in terms of our knowledge and to which I would like to add some comments.
The word ‘evolution’ has become coloured through its association with the theories of Darwin and Wallace, to the point that important aspects of the path taken by many species has been overlooked. The ‘survival of the fittest’ aspect has cloaked other equally important factors, the chief of which is cause and effect. 
When these two matters are considered in conjunction, the physical development of the Universe is quite understandable, even if our understanding still has a long way to go.  Similarly, the evolution of life on this planet is understandable, even if still poorly understood.
In neither of these matters can I see even the remotest suggestion of divine intervention.  I have questions in my mind about the development of consciousness into what we have today but, so far, there are no answers to this puzzle.
Will human consciousness continue to evolve?  Given the rate at which we are trashing the planet, all in the name of material gain in the present, there is a good chance that human society will crash all the way back to the Stone Age in the near future.
To these many unanswered speculations, we can add the bind that psychologists and neurologists put themselves in when they insist, on the basis of no demonstrable evidence, that the human consciousness resides in a computer called ‘our brain’ and that it dies when the human body dies.  This bind becomes very painful when there is considerable objective evidence of the survival of the consciousness after physical death but no objective evidence that it is purely physical and resides in the brain somewhere. 
You wonder why people are so little interested in the ‘where are we going’ aspects.  The treatment of Hyslop is part of the answer and the plethora of evidence-free religions that plague the world is another, religions which all claim to have all the answers – which are equally evidence-free.
Ultimately, one must ask if it matters that only a small number of people are interested in the ‘where’ question.  Of the billions of humans infesting this planet, there are just a few who spend time considering the whole matter of the survival of the consciousness and analysing the objective evidence of a continuing life.  There are considerably more who frantically devise ‘explanations’ to support the contrary position. 
I get a good laugh out of the ridiculous extremes – mass telepathy being an excellent example – to discredit the objective evidence available.  As the closed-mind sceptics get more desperate, the improbability factor of their devices goes through the roof.  And the crunch factor is that their ‘explanations’ are totally devoid of objective evidence.  Talk about wanting it both ways!!

Leslie Harris, Wed 12 Aug, 07:38

Another gem from your thinking, writing and BEING. So clear, so sensible.  I have been an ordained minister since 1960, served churches in six states, taught in colleges,served in the Navy, worked in government, taught for a national health organization in every U.S. state plus Puerto Rico, Canada and Scotland - even ran for U. S. Congress.
I am not “tooting my horn” but affirming your ideas and activities and resonating to your challenging messages across the world. My experiences,like yours, are the big WHY we fail to see what life ultimately means. Sounds dogmatic? Not at all. It is the search, the journey that calls every yearning heart for a BEYONDNESS that fulfills these longings and brings love , faith, joy and hope. And the search is not to be limited to this life here on earth

Richard Batzler, Wed 12 Aug, 04:42

Welcome back,Mike, even if in a… “steerage”!
I think that space exploration is good for fundamentalists, because it can change their narrow mind about the infiniteness of God’s Mind. Searching for life in the space means to get a wider view on the supernatural detaching them from their myopic vision of life based only on ignoble matter.
More, I agree with your thoughts on the end of life: as a doctor I’d like to die in peace, in my bed and not transformed in to a vegetable!
Here is an interesting article on this topic:
My 2€cent worth!

CLAUDIO, Tue 11 Aug, 12:10

Thanks for that Mike. Whether artificial life can be created from chemistry alone is open to question, despite the optimism of your Nobel prize winner. And the statistical odds of the accidental complex chemical combinations involved in creating natural life actually happening - out there in the wild - are so outrageously small as to have caused the famous astronomer Professor Fred Hoyle (and me!) to come down on the side of intelligent design. After all, the so-called primordial soup in which it all supposedly happened has never yet been identified as having definitely existed.  Just how unlikely these accidental combinations are, is explained brilliantly in Stephen Meyer’s book, ‘Signature in the Cell’. I agree with your doubts regarding Darwinian evolution as ‘fact’. There must be something more.

And as for Appalling American Airlines - we’ll never fly with them again!! We were not even offered a drink on a five hour flight across the Pacific Ocean, let alone a meal.

Keith P in England, Tue 11 Aug, 09:37

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Ukraine War: A Story of Survival, Sacrifice, and Service – If charitable service to those in need is the ultimate in spirituality here in the physical life, this book most certainly deals with spiritual matters. The author, Amber Poole, an American woman and her husband, Paul, from Scotland but with Polish roots, operated an educational center in Poland when the Russians attacked Ukraine in 2022. As many Ukrainians fled to Poland, they turned their center into a home for as many as 40 refugees. The author kept a very interesting “war diary” over the first 18 months of the war, discussing everything from the cultural adjustments required by both the Polish and the Ukrainians to her own reactions and adjustments, as well as philosophical concerns and conflicts that often surfaced. In spite of the adversity and distress, she embraced the adversity. Read here
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