David Sunfellow, Can the Scientific Study of NDEs Reveal the Purpose of Life? |413|

islam as we know it is wrong
- atheism as we know it is not even wrong
Let's be fair Alex - they are all 'wrong' in the same way all political parties are 'wrong'.

The idea that any one system is universal is so far off beam it scarcely bears any credit. That was my issue with the Christianity I grew up with. Jesus was the light and the truth and the way - and there was no other. Bullshit!

But they all have truth within them. If you pause a moment and think on how a religion is formed, it should become evident that the 'outer; form can never be more than an average approximation pointing more or less in the right direction - provided the adherents have the wit to step aside from their egos and pay heed - and that does not happen often.

Religion folds into politics and commerce. The Crusades were not 'religious' as much as being excused and permitted by religious rhetoric. Any detailed examination of Christian history will reveal ambition and pride as prominent driving forces, along with a complete misunderstanding of the essence of the faith. My reading on Islam is less intensive, but the same applies, to the extent that I have read so far.

You hit the nail on the head with atheism - its not even playing the same game or on the same field.

You will notice that we never ask "Why Islam?" Why did it develop? What need did it serve at its inception? It acknowledges its Judaic and Christian underpinnings but found no capacity to accept either. Why was that?
 
Once again, the extraordinary value of the combination of Christianity + the Enlightenment + the Magna Carta/US Constitution, etc is perennially underestimated by those who enjoy the fruits of it all. Too much whining over imperfections and a failure to make an honest comparison to what the rest of the world is and always has been.
Great thought Eric. I think the problem is that the objectors and the whiners have long relied on patently evident flaws in systems of thought that are inherently imperfect. They convince the causal, but interested, observer that their critique is definitive. And, because those who know don't mix it with the popular opinion, that stands. It becomes the respectable 'informed' POV that is endlessly and 'knowingly' recycled by folk who love the conclusion - because it sound insightful and right.

But when you go digging a different story emerges. That takes effort and time. And you commit to that if you really care what the real story is, rather than having an 'opinion' that signifies some social status or political perspective.
 
All these religions have a male deity exclusively at their head, with all that implies. For me that is unbalance and so, wrong.
Classic Alice! The idea that deity has gender isn't an issue but the insistence it is male is. But, even so we have that wonderful thought in Catholicism in which Mary is not only Mother of God (albeit the Son), but also Queen of Heaven. Where have we heard that before? Of course! Isis. The Catholics adopted the Egyptian model. Osiris - God the Father, Isis Mary and Horus is Jesus.

Of course nobody dare infer Marianism is goddess worship - but what else do you call it? The twist that gets the theologians out of hot water is to decide that Mary is human only (virginal and pure and fucked only by God via an archangel) - and yet remarkably the mother of God. That's the great thing about human logic and theology - completely idiotic ideas can be made to sound reasonable.

How many humans would prefer to have their dad the dominant force in their lives, as opposed to their mum (that's "mom" to Americans) ? I confess to growing up with my mum being the sane centre. So I am biased - and cannot guess at the answer to the question. But what I do know is that so many screwed up men have been strongly influenced by screwed up fathers - so the notion of the dominant male is urgent, fragile and confused. Ergo problematic and undesirable?

We are way better off with a female notion of deity, or at least a balance of each.
 
Everyone.

I am just about to create a new thread inside "Consciousness and science" called Politics. Would people please try to confine political discussions to this thread unless they are directly relevant to the podcast under discussion. I fear that we may have driven David S away!

If nobody objects, I might try to move the political posts from this thread to the new thread.

David
OK - I have done my best to disentangle the two subjects, but inevitably some posts covered both topics (!!) - so the result isn't perfect. I also contacted David, and he said the main reason he left was because other things needed his attention, but he might return.

Please, everyone, try to put politics in the Politics thread or another with a suitable name. That way others find it much easier to follow what we have been discussing.

David
 
Let's be fair Alex - they are all 'wrong' in the same way all political parties are 'wrong'.


You hit the nail on the head with atheism - its not even playing the same game or on the same field.
agreed... maybe I was trying to be too ironic :) just saying the atheist/"consciousness is an illusion" worldview is a non-starter. for us here on the skeptiko-forum that may seems really, really obvious... but it doesn't seem to be for folks who take Neil Degrasse Tyson seriously.
 
Now, TES. I have to respectfully disagree with you here. Granted, the manifestations of religion - as social and cultural institutions - create reason for thinking as you do. But religion, per se, is a different matter.
Yes, my apologies. I handed you a reasoned position I hold, which in sound-byte form resembles the common nihilist-atheist trope, but is held for probably a very different set of meanings and reasons. Many of those reasons bear dynamic inside the definition of religion in a philosophical, rather than a social sense. This is not what the club of atheism is saying at all - as they are promoting nihilism with the phrase. I am not. Nihilist-atheism (or Atheism) is itself a religion - and I shall expound accordingly below.

So even those who espouse no religious sensibility will still behave in a way that is consistent with those who do. So what is the problem? The impulse or the content of intentional response to that impulse?
You segue into the first point well here! But before we do that, some housekeeping. I need to discipline my casual form of the statement to 'philosophical religion causes, rather than is the solution to (as it claims to be) a critical mass of the world's problems'. Critical mass is the correct term and analog here - as one problem will serve to chain react and cause a series of additional problems. So you were not arguing with a straw man - rather simply my imprecise and non-contexted quip.

I was born in Belfast to a deeply Protestant family. My father fashioned a hatred of Catholics because of his culture and community. But because there was a social divide determined by religious affiliation, the question should whether religion is the 'cause' of the divide, or a manifestation of it. If we look into history we can see that it is a shared affair. But then I grew up as a Protestant in Australia, and I have no aversion to Catholics or Anglicans. That's because my religious experience was not determined by culture in the way my father's was.
Deep qualifications, which I respect enormously. However, here the context is the social definition of religion, rather than the philosophical one. The binding of men together under the auspices of a meaning which is difficult to define, is innocent, yes. Our reaching out the hand of mercy (not charity) is also an innocent action. However, these are not 'religion' in the below definition, they are 'faith' (a verb). These suffer the fallacies of etymology and anachronism when they are further then defined as religion. They can become a virtue shield as well, if abused. What I will present below employs the philosophical ethic of using neither fallacy of etymology nor anachronism in order to define a construct, rather - define a foundational term in the Wittgenstein discipline - it must bear several elements:

1. Distinct – serves in an incremental or discrete critical-path role​
2. Cogent – is focused, concise and meaningful​
3. Novel – has not been fairly addressed before​
4. Non-obvious – not really obvious to the average philosopher​
5. Leverages Prior Art – continues or fairly modifies prior philosophical work​
6. Not Sophistry – not developed to feature nor protect an agenda​
7. Clarifying – decreases the entropy of knowledge and understanding​
8. Useful – bears incremental utility inside a specific context domain​
9. Teachable – can be effectively communicated and sustained​

I get your point. I am asking you to look deeper than the standard cant on the subject. That's more worthy of your style. I want to recommend two books. Larry Siedentop's 'The Invention of the Individual - Origins of Western Liberalism', and Peter Frankopan's 'The Silk Roads'.
I will stop here - because the explanation as to my version of 'philosophical religion causes, rather than is the solution to (as it claims to be) a critical mass of the worlds problems' is long and involved. In addition, I have a couple choice case studies in my national infrastructure work, wherein religious thinking was the core cause of suffering on a grand scale. However, I exhort all philosophers to define such constructs inside the context of the philosophical, rather than social definition (In other words, not from its word origin, nor how it expresses socially) - so that we do not suffer the 'bewitchment of our intelligence'.

Nonetheless as closing, I will offer up my definitions which serve to clarify the basis of this root fallacy, and rather than expound from that foundation - let you mull it for a while. :) These definitions, in my decades-long struggle to assess, constitute the Wittgenstein compliant definitions of the terms:

Religion – the compulsory adherence to an idea around which testing for falsification is prohibited. The process of a power wielding group abusing the rights of individuals through the desire to make compulsory, that which cannot be held to account.​
God – Ω • ⊕ – any entity which has been ceded ongoing power, yet at the same time retains an ongoing lack of accountability. A standard employed by a proxy agent, as a virtual mass in the social leveraging of a victim.​
Neither of these definitions stipulates bearded grandfather/ancient wisdom archetypes nor official organizations venerating such.​
My family emigrated to the Colonies with Thomas Jefferson's family, and lived on the farm next door to his family during his foundational years. My 7th great grandfather was the same age as Thomas Jefferson. Since second grade, I have maintained a keen interest in Thomas Jefferson's philosophy and how it affected his view of a republic 'conditional powers' form of governmental representation. If you read, The Road to Monticello by Kevin J Hayes, you may indeed find that religion is best not described by religious theists and atheists... those who seek to promote their club; rather those with a heart for the fate of humankind.

Thomas Jefferson was not a deist, he was an ethical skeptic.

Which segues us back to the sub-topic of this thread - the purpose of life.
 
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Classic Alice! The idea that deity has gender isn't an issue but the insistence it is male is. But, even so we have that wonderful thought in Catholicism in which Mary is not only Mother of God (albeit the Son), but also Queen of Heaven. Where have we heard that before? Of course! Isis. The Catholics adopted the Egyptian model. Osiris - God the Father, Isis Mary and Horus is Jesus.

Of course nobody dare infer Marianism is goddess worship - but what else do you call it? The twist that gets the theologians out of hot water is to decide that Mary is human only (virginal and pure and fucked only by God via an archangel) - and yet remarkably the mother of God. That's the great thing about human logic and theology - completely idiotic ideas can be made to sound reasonable.

How many humans would prefer to have their dad the dominant force in their lives, as opposed to their mum (that's "mom" to Americans) ? I confess to growing up with my mum being the sane centre. So I am biased - and cannot guess at the answer to the question. But what I do know is that so many screwed up men have been strongly influenced by screwed up fathers - so the notion of the dominant male is urgent, fragile and confused. Ergo problematic and undesirable?

We are way better off with a female notion of deity, or at least a balance of each.
I wonder if David will think we need a separate thread for Religion as well as Politics. But no, religious believers seem to be angling for an overly influential role in defining NDEs, and that's a worry to me. I am averse to Religion and was brought up to ridicule it.

The dominant male-only deity is a relatively recent dictate. And Mary was grudgingly reinstated due to popular demand, you're right, in a dilute, sanitised, impossibly virginal/fucked by God (lol, isn't that incest?) version no human woman could realistically aspire to. Magdalene took up the slack as the 'other woman' again dividing women from a balanced sovereign sexuality. And a far cry from Isis. Did she get further transmuted to the 'holy ghost' as the (invisible) third of the trinity with the Father and Son? And where is the Daughter?

In a human family the Mother is true centre and ideally she is healthy, sane and 'doing her job'. She is the one who brings forth life and usually organises feeding it, loves unconditionally and her sudden early removal (in my experience) leads to family fragmentation. Her properly central role is/has been usurped by the Dominant Father paradigm installed by religious bias, which then colours our Cultures, whether we consciously subscribe to religion or believe we have eschewed it. Its influence, like its reps 1 & 2, is omnipotent. And there's a paradox, faced by all solo-parents, how to be both the benign and loving, yet disciplinarian and punitive? It's not easy.

But if we're talking fictitious characters for purposes of spiritual, social and emotional direction, why stick with only one main gender, and that distinctly male? It is the unbalance, the mono-preference, the inevitable outcome that the masculine element of destruction has superseded the feminine element of creation, and we need both in equality. We can't begin to redress the (clear signs of) imbalance in our cultures until we address the imbalance in this spiritual/physical divide.

Let us not carry over into this bravely balanced new spiritual view from the revelations of NDEs, old and sullied paradigms that don't work for us, and never did.
 
Which segues us back to the sub-topic of this thread - the purpose of life.
God engaged in self-awareness via the expression of being - not just reflection. The purpose of life = the meaning of life = the actuality of life.

There is a deep thought that is trotted out by vacuous parroters of what they think is profound, so it has become a cliche - not a fate it deserves. Its expressesd in various languages, but the English is plain enough - "I am that I am." That is what the divine expresses, it is said.

If we consider the purpose of our individual lives as humans, that's a more complex affair. We participate in a community of lives to serve personal needs and a greater purpose. It is easy to overthink this. At the moment, for instance, I have a goal to be a decent and responsible human on this physical level. A deeper sense of me (that part of me that is lucid on the metaphysical dimension - and which I am aware of from time to time) might understand I have also a spiritual goal as well. There may be other levels beyond that.

I rethink we need to understand that there are multiple dimensions to even our own lives on this physical plane and so there are multiple purposes (as spouse, parent, family member, friend, employee and so on) - but even so, they tend to resolve in terms of virtue and integrity. That suggest to me that a life purpose must embrace the same attributes.

The atheistic materialist will probably want to stop at survival and perpetuating the species - to avoid any sense of purpose that has a metaphysical dimension to it.
 
In a human family the Mother is true centre and ideally she is healthy, sane and 'doing her job'. She is the one who brings forth life and usually organises feeding it, loves unconditionally and her sudden early removal (in my experience) leads to family fragmentation. Her properly central role is/has been usurped by the Dominant Father paradigm installed by religious bias, which then colours our Cultures, whether we consciously subscribe to religion or believe we have eschewed it. Its influence, like its reps 1 & 2, is omnipotent. And there's a paradox, faced by all solo-parents, how to be both the benign and loving, yet disciplinarian and punitive? It's not easy.
Th question as to whether the divine should be seen as feminine rather than masculine should excite far more curiosity that it does. The domination of masculine 'vibes' in culture sets mentality and values, and we can see in the emergent feminisation of western culture evidence of radical transformations that come about simply by the fact of more women in public life. I see things from the well-defined crucible of the public service in Australia over a 40 year period (at least). The change is extraordinary and deeply penetrating into so many areas of public service., Of course there are hold out areas and elsewhere quite unbalanced and even stupid manifestations of feminism on steroids.

When it comes to god versus goddess, there is a belief that gender does not matter. But in fact these are two very distinct expressions of deity that are profoundly different. The idea of God the Creator is confused in the OT. There are stages of creation, and we know from ancient texts that multiple dieties are involved - deities of different status and function. Genesis has been rewritten for monotheism, and yet the polytheistic foundation remains evident. Here we see God the Commander, who gives orders and makes pronouncements. There really isn't any clear sense of God the Father - just God the boss.

And in any case what does being the father mean in the creation process? The mundane norm is that the mother not only does the hard work of actual creation, but the critical nurturing of a child to the age when it can breed, hunt or fight. Then the male steps in.

I think there are powerful and compelling reasons for thinking of deity in feminine terms. If I returned to any kind of 'religious' celebration I would go back to Wicca, precisely because it demands consideration of the divine as feminine - and even so that's not always a challenge that is taken up with the appropriate level of existential courage.

If only for balance we must contemplate the divine feminine. If we want evolution we must go further than mere contemplation.
 
If only for balance we must contemplate the divine feminine. If we want evolution we must go further than mere contemplation.
Hi Michael, thanks for your reply. It really is a hugely important step, among the first I believe we must make to facilitate development of our culture. It would actually be a return for us, while many cultures still retain feminine deity/ies. The Maori people of Aotearoa aka newzealand have both Ranginui the Sky father and Papatuanuku Earth mother, who created offspring together, of course, and incidentally, love each other. Pregnancy is revered and women still have some status. But they have been overwhelmed by an invading colonial force of white christians, touting salvation through missionary-condemnation of their culture (for e.g. their moko/tattoos were said to be "the work of the devil") Religion has been used to slide in, spread fear, contempt and catastrophic illness while setting up bases for the military to move in. It's a coup by any other name, but they use a false claim to the moral high ground based on lies, hypocrisy and cruelty justified by their punitive God.

I don't advocate a return to 'the plough' or loss of technological progress as the internet, being spontaneous and visual rather than repressive and exclusively verbal, has rebalanced our means of communication. I believe it is feminine/matrist in fact. The loss of many men in two western world wars led to the rise of feminism as it made possible the promotion and representation of women in positions of influence and (conditional) power. But a lot of good men were lost who might have assisted, rather than just enjoying the benefits of high status in the minority. But this rise has been held in check and in some cases regressed, by the same religious propaganda that keeps us all in an iniquitous position, to varying degrees, until we realise it is in all our interests to revise and reinstate equality.
 
Hi Michael, thanks for your reply. It really is a hugely important step, among the first I believe we must make to facilitate development of our culture. It would actually be a return for us, while many cultures still retain feminine deity/ies. The Maori people of Aotearoa aka newzealand have both Ranginui the Sky father and Papatuanuku Earth mother, who created offspring together, of course, and incidentally, love each other. Pregnancy is revered and women still have some status. But they have been overwhelmed by an invading colonial force of white christians, touting salvation through missionary-condemnation of their culture (for e.g. their moko/tattoos were said to be "the work of the devil") Religion has been used to slide in, spread fear, contempt and catastrophic illness while setting up bases for the military to move in. It's a coup by any other name, but they use a false claim to the moral high ground based on lies, hypocrisy and cruelty justified by their punitive God.

I don't advocate a return to 'the plough' or loss of technological progress as the internet, being spontaneous and visual rather than repressive and exclusively verbal, has rebalanced our means of communication. I believe it is feminine/matrist in fact. The loss of many men in two western world wars led to the rise of feminism as it made possible the promotion and representation of women in positions of influence and (conditional) power. But a lot of good men were lost who might have assisted, rather than just enjoying the benefits of high status in the minority. But this rise has been held in check and in some cases regressed, by the same religious propaganda that keeps us all in an iniquitous position, to varying degrees, until we realise it is in all our interests to revise and reinstate equality.
In a way there is a paradox of the 2 world wars, coming as they did on the heels of the industrial revolution which began to diminish men's traditional biological roles as suppliers of muscle. You could see both wars in the symbolic sense of ridding the world of surplus males as the machine age displaced them and made fit for the one role the machine had yet to fill - the soldier/sailor/airman. Women at home rose to the occasion and cast off their 'traditional' roles. It was a cruel shift because of the suffering and destruction (courtesy of male decisions). So men made the machine and it displaces them. If men have their way the machine will also replace women too - almost.

I think we are in a complex age. There is no doubt that fundamental female energies are rising and they are transforming our world, and we are the better for it. We tend to be impatient for change because we think only in the scale of our lives. We need to look at the trends over more than several centuries. Maybe another century before we will see signs of unmistakable transition that are not mere aberrations? By that I mean not just one US President as a woman but several in succession - for example.

For me the tide has turned and human energies are moving toward equality and harmony - but a lot of things have to be broken on the way. By that I mean that some things might flow and dance in the making tide but others will resist and try to block, and will be washed away.
 
These are the kind sof questions that prevent me from accepting NDE research as gospel the way some people do. Sometimes the "NDE belief system" almost seems like a new religious movement in its early stages.

We have absolutely no way of knowing what kind of spiritual ecosystem we're living in. Do earthworms have any comprehension of the planet they're crawling through? Do anchovies have any idea how bizarre the oceans are? It seems that there are entities for whom the boundary between life and death is not so clear-cut as it is for us. What is their existence like? What kinds of desires and motivations could they have? As HP Lovecraft mused, perhaps knowing the true nature of the universe would make us go insane.

It seems fairly certain that beings "on the other side" don't experience time the way we do. It's possible that they can "see" all of time the way physical beings can view a physical landscape. If so, then this could mean that they know exactly who will survive a near-death experience and who will end up dying. And therefore they could "target" the people who are going to "come back" and shape their experiences in order to foster the development of certain beliefs/tropes/memes. Maybe the entire NDE field is a cosmic psy-op.

And what might be the purpose of this psy-op? Anything and everything...
I mean, think about it. In almost all NDE's the subject is automatically infused with either a feeling of complete peace and acceptance or in some cases terror. They having a 'knowing' that everything is a certain way. The same happens in abduction experiences, although somewhat differently, where the experiencer will have a feeling of acceptance though the situation is alien and bizarre.

It's not much of a stretch to theorize that these entities, whatever they are, could manipulate your emotions like a veterinarian tranquilizing an erratic animal. Not trying to be a black pill, but we have to be objective.

The idea that culture is manipulated or 'steered' by these experiences isn't new. The boys at Mysterious Universe talk about this idea a lot in regards to the UFO abduction phenomena.
 
In a way there is a paradox of the 2 world wars, coming as they did on the heels of the industrial revolution which began to diminish men's traditional biological roles as suppliers of muscle. You could see both wars in the symbolic sense of ridding the world of surplus males as the machine age displaced them and made fit for the one role the machine had yet to fill - the soldier/sailor/airman. Women at home rose to the occasion and cast off their 'traditional' roles. It was a cruel shift because of the suffering and destruction (courtesy of male decisions). So men made the machine and it displaces them. If men have their way the machine will also replace women too - almost.

I think we are in a complex age. There is no doubt that fundamental female energies are rising and they are transforming our world, and we are the better for it. We tend to be impatient for change because we think only in the scale of our lives. We need to look at the trends over more than several centuries. Maybe another century before we will see signs of unmistakable transition that are not mere aberrations? By that I mean not just one US President as a woman but several in succession - for example.

For me the tide has turned and human energies are moving toward equality and harmony - but a lot of things have to be broken on the way. By that I mean that some things might flow and dance in the making tide but others will resist and try to block, and will be washed away.
I would agree that there is a trend towards a better balance between the positions of men and women in society. Also that we need more women in decision-making roles. I believe this will do us all much good and lead to a more peaceful world.
 
It's not much of a stretch to theorize that these entities, whatever they are, could manipulate your emotions like a veterinarian tranquilizing an erratic animal. Not trying to be a black pill, but we have to be objective.
I am not so sure I agree with the idea of manipulation in the context of the image you used. We tend to forget that the idea that the gods influence and manipulate humans is a common theme across the great traditions. So, too, is the idea that spirits of deceased humans do so as well. In fact the idea tha we have any apparent autonomous agency is at best theoretical and at worst fanciful. The idea that we are discrete agencies is problematic in any case. We are constantly subject to influences and efforts at manipulation from very quarter in this life on then physical plane, so why imagine that similar does not prevail on the metaphysical plane. Our sense of individual autonomy is a cultural fabrication - and, I suggest, an effort at manipulation. There is no psychological sense to it.

I don't see much evidence of "tranquilizing" so much a stimulation or influences to act or not act.
 
I would agree that there is a trend towards a better balance between the positions of men and women in society. Also that we need more women in decision-making roles. I believe this will do us all much good and lead to a more peaceful world.
I used to think the same, and then came Margaret Thatcher, and Hillary Clinton, who promised to reactivate the war in Syria, quite possibly bringing US forces up against Russian ones. President Trump has turned out more peaceful than either of those. I know that isn't a statistically significant argument, but most women don't want decision making roles, so those that do, are maybe more driven.

David
 
...They having a 'knowing' that everything is a certain way. The same happens in abduction experiences, although somewhat differently, where the experiencer will have a feeling of acceptance though the situation is alien and bizarre.
I also seem to will call a number of alien contact case where one or more of the players seem to come out of character. so even the abductee regains awareness, or ET loses control of conscious. I seem to remember reading one such case in this book, but not sure:
Incident at Devils Den, a true story by Terry Lovelace, Esq ...
 
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