Mod+ 263. ALBERT LACHANCE AND REBECCA GOODWIN ON THE THIRD COVENANT

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by John Maguire, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    What are we to make of experience (especially in the spiritual sense)? What to make of it in the light of the materialist scientific paradigm? How to reconcile them? How to integrate them in life so that they influence our decisions in the right way?

    It was a fascinating interview, Alex and I got this feeling that some things your interviewees were saying kind of slipped past you, and maybe also vice-versa; I could be wrong about that, of course, but it was my impression.

    You'd think that after all this time listening to you, I'd know pretty well where you are coming from, Alex, but in this interview in some respects it was like hearing you for the first time, or maybe just, for the first time, registering how strongly you feel about things you've often said before.

    Albert said it: it's a universe. Everything has to hang together as one, and of course that includes all human activity, not excepting our conception of what science is. For all the fact that to your enormous credit you have embarked on an honest and sceptical (in the best sense of that word) journey of discovery that modern reductionism doesn't have the answer, I wonder: do you have faith, or at any rate a hope, that there's a way of science that isn't completely different from what we have now, and within which the universe can be fully understood?

    My take is that Albert is saying that consciousness is the Source of All, and it's within our localised consciousnesses that we have what we think of as personal experiences. These are indisputably the only things we can ever say that we truly know, and that applies whether or not they are idiosyncratic or seem to be able to be shared. I say "seem" because what we actually share are our descriptions and interpretations of what we experience, and not experiences themselves. In modern science (as in other areas), it is the conceptions/interpretations that we share, and out of that, our localised consciousnesses create our pictures of the universe.

    The actual universe, of course, is what it is however we might conceptualise it. Plainly, we can and do conceptualise it in many different ways. And in and of itself, that fact is very interesting. If we think about that, it's telling us that what shapes reality as we think of it is localised consciousness. We might not be able to explain why one NDEr experiences one thing, and another something else, but it's a brute fact that that's the way it is. Likewise, a scientist with a reductionist predilection conceptualises things in a different way from people who've had spiritual experiences, except perhaps when that scientist has had a spiritual experience, or alternatively, through scientific evidence, had doubts engendered in his/her mind.

    Why should the universe, which all sides agree should be consistent, be thought of or perceived in different ways? Why don't we all think of the universe in the same way? To me, this is prima facie evidence that it's consciousness that rules the roost, and that it's impossible for some particular overlaid concept of reality, be it reductionism or religionism, or even concepts thought of as being "spiritual", to be monolithic even though there might sometimes be broad similarities in interpretation.

    As conscious, self-aware entities, it seems we are fated to perceive the universe to greater or lesser degrees in idiosyncratic ways. When you ask yourself what Christ conscousness is about, or why different people describe different NDE experiences, a possible answer is that each of us can only perceive actual reality through the filter of conditioning, belief and personal experience. The universe has to speak to us through that filter, and inevitably, it's distorted to some degree or other.

    Moreover, we have no a priori reason to believe that in any putative form of existence after death, there won't still be some kind or degree of filtering in place, even if it's not quite as restrictive as it is during life. As long as we're still evolving beings, there are still things to come to know, and that applies whether we're incarnate or not. It's as if there's a fog before us which may be very gradually clearing, but has not yet disappeared. We can gradually discern more, but not yet enough to see what's going on with perfect clarity; hence we fill in the gaps with personal interpretation and act as if that is the final truth, even if that truth happens to be agnosticism. Can we still have scepticism after death, I wonder? Maybe.

    If it's like I suspect it is, that consciousness has primacy, then one wonders if any formalised approach to science will be able to drive the resolution of the big questions. There would seem to have to be a shift in attitude before we could at least formulate a science prepared to look at these questions that we have historically always asked ourselves. Change the attitude, and we can change the way we're prepared to investigate reality, and indeed what we're inclined to investigate in the first place. It isn't a question of science changing, and consequent to that, consciousness changing, I don't think; no, first the consciousness has to change, and then science can be changed to develop ways to investigate reality, including consciousness of course (fat chance if the dogma is that it's an illusion). Only then could we have an effort put into science for which we would be prepared to spend the big bucks that we spent on landing on the moon.

    A saving grace is that, as we have increasingly taken the prevalent scientific paradigm further (perhaps particularly in physics), we've come increasingly to realise that we're rapidly approaching (maybe have already bumped into) its limitations. If one is an optimist, and I tend to be, then sooner or later, we'll have to change the paradigm to include serious consideration of consciousness as the source of what we think of as the physical. Otherwise, science as an investigative tool rather than a generator of technology will reach an insuperable barrier. One can get very excited at the prospect of a new scientific paradigm that may still not be able to answer the big questions definitively, but is at least prepared to take them seriously.
     
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  2. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Like I said, annoyed. No intentions of sorting you out: you're going to have to do that yourself.
     
  3. tim

    tim New

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    No, Michael, I wasn't annoyed until you came interfering. I thought you were intuitive and a good judge of matters, obviously I thought wrong. You are totally out of order. Weird, really.
     
  4. Alex

    Alex New

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    we've been going with an edited down transcript.


    I do too... I like Rebecca as well.

    agreed
     
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  5. Alex

    Alex New

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    We can see how it goes. The problem with the old transcripts were the errors. I went thru a couple of different folks who did a pretty good job but there we always mistakes. I noticed this even more when I was writing the book. So, I decided to shift the transcript to more of a highlighting of key points and let the audio be the full interview. We're shooting for 30 of transcribed material... BTW I think this will free me up to have longer conversations.

    Again, if it doesn't work we can change, but so far I like it better... i.e. it's what I would want as a listener.
     
  6. Alex

    Alex New

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    agreed
     
  7. Alex

    Alex New

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    Oh my... RationalWiki... really??? I mean, that thing is laughable. And of course it's BS... and I mean total BS! I've never edited anyone's interview... and I'm especially careful about editing skeptics. This is classic ad homin nonsense that all started when Ophelia Benson came on and would up looking pretty silly.

    I don't see any problem with saying here's the full audio and here's 30 minutes of transcribed highlights. Again, as someone who listens to a lot of podcasts this is what I would prefer.

    -- TWF, since you seem have an interest in the "rational" crowd, will you pls, pls get one of them to come on Skeptiko... get Ophelia Benson to come back on!
     
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  8. Alex

    Alex New

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    no guest has ever said that.
     
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  9. Alex

    Alex New

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    Hi Michael... I have more of a Gnostic/anarchist sensibility :)

    I think this is a minority view... always has been, always will be. I don't think the materialist game will slow down or reach any limits... I think we can play it forever.
     
  10. Types With Fingers

    Types With Fingers New

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    It's not the head of the materialist snake which concerns me, that's your department, I'm thinking of the body which follows because it doesn't think on its own-- you know, the public. I never heard of the term "near-death experience" until two years ago; who knows, if I'd been exposed to JREF or RatWiki before finding this site, I could very well have been now one of those folks calling everyone who believes in an afterlife a cowardly idiot!

    As the old adage goes, "a lie is halfway around the world before the truth can tie its shoes on." On the internet, a lie can probably be halfway to Jupiter in that time. So I had to ask. As long as it's on the record here, that's important to me, and I won't bring it up again. Besides, I wouldn't know how to invite anyone on your behalf, I'd probably do more harm than good in that respect.
     
  11. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Exactly - that is what I thought!
    David
     
  12. Alex

    Alex New

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    ... ok, but let's look at it another way -- it's good that your skeptical of Skeptiko! Re inviting, it's easier than you think. fire off an email to RationalWiki or any other group/forum that makes this claim and just tell them the truth. Tell them that you've heard the Skeptiko guy say that they are provably wrong and see what they say. If you get any response invite them to to come on Skeptiko and I will follow-up and do the rest.
     
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  13. Types With Fingers

    Types With Fingers New

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    Making sure I get the order correct, do you mean you want me to email the person, ask them to email me back if they're interested, and if they and they reply back, invite them to email you about maybe doing an episode together, and then you'll email them back? I think you wrote down your email address on the site somewhere, I'll look for it.

    I don't really want to invite anybody from the materialist crowd because you've interviewed all the bigwigs I know of (except Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, and I'm not going near Dawkins with even seven proxies between us), though wouldn't it be a heck of an episode if you could try getting steve001, fls, malf, and some of our other materialist-sympathizers together on the show for an episode?

    Anyway, as I'd mentioned in another thread, there are some other folks on our side of the pond who I think would make great interviewees. Could you be so kind as to PM me a template of how you invite people to the show? You know how it is, I don't want to be the guy who offended Bruce Greyson and kept him from coming on the show.
     
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  14. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    It seems to me that the strength of your bias is utterly disallowing any degree of attempted objectivity.

    - All peoples in that spacetime had the perspective of "having a special covenant with god or gods. AFAIK every ancient spiritual text has the people writing it as the chosen people. And it is not far from the truth.
    - There is great spiritual and philosophical value in the Bible. That you don't see that is again much more about you than the writings. But in this case the result is stupidity. You may not agree with the philosophies and approaches to spirituality in the writings but to say they're not there is ignorant on many levels.
    - "Barbaric" is highly subjective. But again your comment shows ignorance. Yes there are things in the Bible that to my view are barbaric but none of them are advocated as spiritual practices.

    Have you actually even read the entire Bible? Oh and for context, I'm not a Christian and I'm not Jewish.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
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  15. Alex

    Alex New

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    great... I'm glad you're going to give this a go. I think you might enjoy it. I will PM a template, but also wanted to encourage you to try and get some folks from the "rational" crowd. There are scores and scores of blogs/podcasts that I've never touched... just follow your nose.

    Anyone else want to assist here? Can we get a dialog going with some of the smarter/middle-of-the-road Skeptics/atheists?
     
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  16. Types With Fingers

    Types With Fingers New

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    Hey, with a template, I'm going to invite everybody.
     
  17. Alex

    Alex New

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    Great!. Pls report back on your progress so we can follow your efforts... maybe others would like to help out as well.

    It will be very interesting to hear the response you get. It's very funny, but I get a similar response from Christian Apologists. They talk a good game, but when you try (even politely) to pin them down on hard questions (e.g. what if I accept the possibility of "Christ consciousness", but not the historical account presented in the Bible) they disappear. I've had this happen multiple times... even with folks who show an initial interest.

    So, I suspect that you'll find the same thing with the Skeptical/Atheist crowd... i.e. a lot of arm waving followed by a lame excuse as to why they don't have to deal with the really hard stuff like mind>brain.
     
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  18. Tola Brennan

    Tola Brennan New

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    I don't necessarily agree entirely with everything here, but it definitely hits some of my reactions to the interview. I liked when you (Alex) posed the whole "why can't we just get rid of Catholicism?" thing. I was expecting a really defensive answer to that one, but the point about not destroying a culture felt like a pretty solid counterpoint to that argument. I see that, but there's still this real discomfort I have about lumping things together which David raises in this comment. How can one trust that they have made choices that are in agreement with one's personal point of view when they've curated what's valuable in these historical traditions? What if they pick out things one really doesn't agree with and those hangups get smushed into the rhetoric of unity? This concern is the same reason I have a huge issue with Ken Wilber. The whole "we can just integrate" theme seems almost as reductionist as what it claims not to be.

    The main topic I wanted to raise here though, is this issue of detail. The positions are pretty clear when skeptics come on the show, really firmly identified people like McCormack, or researchers who mostly address their work. But when there's this more nuanced sense of overlap in beliefs, the real challenges begin as a listener. I guess what I mean here is that I probably agree with about 80% of what the LaChances are saying, but it's that key 10-20% that is a total game-changer and the difference between agreement and endorsement, and vehement critique. I guess it's a question of who gets to define this "totally new thing" (or whatever you call it- Third Covenant just doesn't really have a lot of pizazz for me). I'm not sure if I'm saying that being divisive is a good thing, but real unresolvable difference seems to get thrown under the rug a lot and I don't think that difference forecloses certain similarities in whatever new frames of reference are being hinted at.
     
  19. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris New

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    My guess is that anytime you have an intact ego you are going to have this 'filtering' mechanism. In fact, I find it a bit odd yet intriguing that NDE evidence suggests we retain this ego identification in that realm, at least for a while it seems. This seems contradictory to what I understand about traditional notions of reincarnation like in Buddhism, where that sense of a personal, historical 'me' is dropped with the physical existence.

    Since Albert and Rebecca brought up Ken Wilber in the podcast, I'll share a relevant quote from him that reflects your own insight on the 'conditioning filter'. He is referring to 'spiritual experiences' in the quote, but I've always thought it applies perfectly to NDE as well:

     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
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  20. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Thanks for the Wilber quote, Michael. He makes a good point about the current take of most scientists: they too are taking their belief in material reality, which is actually just a model, literally. And I suppose we could draw the inference from that that, just as science, however imperfect the model is, is useful, our models of spiritual truths might likewise be useful even if somewhat distorted.
     
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