Organized religion: Is it all bad?

#41
Right this is my final post on the matter.

1 I'm not claiming anything. Flint claimed the recordings were via the Independent Direct Voice. I don't know because I wasn't there. The evidence of corroboration is contained in the references I made earlier. Go read them (or not).

2 Flint was widely acknowledged as a 'prodigious talent' by those who sat with him and tested him. I didn't do either. I'm simply saying there is a lot of material endorsing his phenomena.

3 I haven't mentioned your sincerity. I have no idea who you are or what your motivation is.

4 Flint was highly unusual, assuming his work was genuine, and certainly not one medium among many. To appreciate the nature of his work you'd need to do more than listen to his recordings.

5 Your lack of insight into him is because all you seem to have done is listen to a few recordings. It is easily rectified by reading the extensive material on him. Whatever you believe, I really am not interested whether you decide to do more research on him or not.

I'm done with this conversation.
 
#42
Okay, you're mistaken in believing I haven't looked at Flint more closely than YouTube recordings. I read what I could find on him a few years ago after his name kept coming up in relation to mediumship. I'm not looking to debunk Flint, I'd argue there isn't sufficient serious evidence to debunk, nor am I saying mediumship of various kinds does not exist. What concerns me is spiritualists and fellow travellers propose an extensive body of survival evidence that rarely stands up to close scrutiny. I think there are cases that are compelling, but rather than add to them, Flint's work muddies the waters even further.

Neither am I convinced mediumship represents the kind of direct post-mortem communication its advocates suggest. As I said previously, it's more likely to be a form of disassociated independent mind, given what I've read on the subject over decades, a type of psychic Chinese Whispers that's deeply rooted in the medium's consciousness and only vaguely represents the thoughts and desires of the deceased. People can disagree with that summary, and suggest contrary readings, but I believe it's the one that best summarises what we know, which is very little.
 
#43
Okay, you're mistaken in believing I haven't looked at Flint more closely than YouTube recordings. I read what I could find on him a few years ago after his name kept coming up in relation to mediumship. I'm not looking to debunk Flint, I'd argue there isn't sufficient serious evidence to debunk, nor am I saying mediumship of various kinds does not exist. What concerns me is spiritualists and fellow travellers propose an extensive body of survival evidence that rarely stands up to close scrutiny. I think there are cases that are compelling, but rather than add to them, Flint's work muddies the waters even further.
I am happy to stand corrected. You did refer to Flint channeling voices which isn't what he claimed, so you will probably appreciate how this suggested to me that you might not fully understand the phenomenon he allegedly mediated. My apologies. How well Flint stands up to scrutiny is a somewhat subjective opinion really. I'd say he stands up pretty well based on my knowledge of him.

I don't mind any medium being debunked - it's in everyone's interest if the medium is fake. There is however a big difference between showing a medium is fraudulent and casting aspersion as I'm sure you'd agree.

Neither am I convinced mediumship represents the kind of direct post-mortem communication its advocates suggest. As I said previously, it's more likely to be a form of disassociated independent mind, given what I've read on the subject over decades, a type of psychic Chinese Whispers that's deeply rooted in the medium's consciousness and only vaguely represents the thoughts and desires of the deceased. People can disagree with that summary, and suggest contrary readings, but I believe it's the one that best summarises what we know, which is very little.
If the Independent Direct Voice and full-form materialisation phenomena as exemplified by Alec Harris, Minnie Harrison etc are genuine, I don't understand how they might be some form of disassociated independent mind.
 
#44
I think we differ in an important way. You seem to believe a medium's powers are proven until disproven, I don't accept any claim of mediumship that is better explained by mundane means. If I'm casting aspersions, it's on all such claims that are made from a position of acceptance, without evidence, and are not directed at an individual. As for channelling, I used the term in its general sense of a deceased person speaking, by whatever means, via the presence of a living medium. As I don't automatically accept claims of mediumship it would be unwise to differentiate the varieties of it.
 
#45
I think we differ in an important way. You seem to believe a medium's powers are proven until disproven, I don't accept any claim of mediumship that is better explained by mundane means. If I'm casting aspersions, it's on all such claims that are made from a position of acceptance, without evidence, and are not directed at an individual. As for channelling, I used the term in its general sense of a deceased person speaking, by whatever means, via the presence of a living medium. As I don't automatically accept claims of mediumship it would be unwise to differentiate the varieties of it.
I definitely don't believe a medium is proven until disproven, but I can see why you might think that. I can't think of a single medium I have heard of or seen that I'd say was unquestionably genuine. There are some I'd say probably are/were. I try to remain open-minded until either I have enough information to suggest they may be genuine or, enough to accept they are definitely fraudulent. It's more of a continuum for me, unless I have been able to witness the phenomena myself. I'd describe it more as an assessment of probability. (I should add that I don't assume that because a medium has been found using trickery, that this means every demonstration is necessarily due to trickery)

I don't share your view (apologies if I have misunderstood it) that a mundane explanation is to be accepted before mediumship on the face of it. I don't see any need to commit either way until there is some evidence to base an assessment on. If one assumes mediumship is possible at all, then it seems to me that one must accept that it is always possible that any demonstration is genuinely mediumistic. Of course, that doesn't mean it is any more likely as an explanation than a more mundane answer (as you phrase it). Each case must be assessed on its own merits.

Only if we accept that the more 'mundane' explanation is better supported by the evidence (and not by default) would I accept it as being more likely - even then, often we are talking about probable explanations for the phenomena. I think most forms of mediumship may be replicated by fraudulent means given the time and resources to prepare.

(I realise you will get my line of thinking here - I'm not trying to teach you to suck eggs).
For example: suppose someone tells me they have seen a table levitate:

If I assume such things are impossible, then clearly trickery is the only answer.

If I accept that levitation may be possible then initially I cannot form a view about how it was achieved. I need more information. Unless I am present I am reliant on the witnesses and the controls in place to detect or prevent trickery;
If I am satisfied with the controls and witnesses I may be inclined to think it is more probable that what was reported happened as described;
If I am not satisfied then I probably cannot make an definitive assessment;
if there is evidence of trickery then it seems to me more likely that trickery is the explanation depending on the nature of the evidence.​

In short there will always be a more mundane explanation for a particular demonstration of mediumship. If we assume that is the actual explanation we are as much in error as if we assume the mediumistic explanation it seems to me.

I'm not saying my way of thinking is correct, just that it's the way I approach these things.
 
#46
If I were trying to assess the reality of mediumship, I wouldn't ask a spiritualist or a skeptic. I'd want to know what the medium and I meant by mediumship, is the bar high or low? Are they providing comfort or proof of the survival of personality? What criteria would they like me to assess them on? Is it, for example, do I know anyone called Bob, or that they can provide my grandmother's maiden name first time without having ever met me before? For bravura physical mediums I'd need them to do away with tents and other paraphernalia that strongly suggests trickery. I don't assume such things are impossible, but I would request the removal of situations where I could be duped. Those seem like reasonable expectations.
 
#47
If I were trying to assess the reality of mediumship, I wouldn't ask a spiritualist or a skeptic. I'd want to know what the medium and I meant by mediumship, is the bar high or low? Are they providing comfort or proof of the survival of personality? What criteria would they like me to assess them on? Is it, for example, do I know anyone called Bob, or that they can provide my grandmother's maiden name first time without having ever met me before? For bravura physical mediums I'd need them to do away with tents and other paraphernalia that strongly suggests trickery. I don't assume such things are impossible, but I would request the removal of situations where I could be duped. Those seem like reasonable expectations.
I agree. Having said that, it seems to me that one should allow the medium to work in their 'normal' way as far as possible. There may be some restrictions that are not negotiable. For instance, some materialisation mediums would not work in white light but would permit dim red light.
 
#48
I think it depends on the evidence under discussion. It's about probabilities really. What makes anyone's testimony convincing?

My thoughts are that it would include:
  1. Who the witness is and their character;
  2. The extent to which they are independent;
  3. Their potential motives;
  4. Their actual view of the phenomena they report;
  5. The steps they were able to take to exclude fraud or to confirm that the phenomena were genuine;
  6. ** edited to add: the nature and quality of the evidence reported.
The more of the above that I can form a view on, the more chance I have of establishing a firm opinion.

I don't think it would be reasonable to accept the testimony of a complete stranger about what they claim they have seen or experienced at face value. On the other hand I wouldn't dismiss it either.

I think the best form of evidence is direct personal experience. Unfortunately it isn't usually portable.
That's all very reasonable but as you've come to find, there are very few accounts that are so air tight as to be unassailable. I have personally come to also consider the volume and variety of evidence. There is just too much evidence to not take it seriously. Yes, a multitude particular events can be questioned on one point or another but for me the evidence is so overwhelming it leaves me with no alternative but to accept it. Not to do so simply makes no sense. Again- everyone needs to calibrate their own personal level of scepticism. My threshold was satisfied long ago. I am 100% convinced this stuff is real.

BTW- I didn't start out this way. I was a died in the wool scientific reductionist until about 5 years ago when I decided for a variety of reasons to take a detailed and objective look at the body of evidence. The process took about 2 years but it has changed my whole perspective on the nature of reality. Lots of questions remain, but (for me) what isn't in question is whether we have a fundamental non-physical aspect that exists independent of our physical body and extends beyond our biological lifespan.
 
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#49
Okay, you're mistaken in believing I haven't looked at Flint more closely than YouTube recordings. I read what I could find on him a few years ago after his name kept coming up in relation to mediumship. I'm not looking to debunk Flint, I'd argue there isn't sufficient serious evidence to debunk, nor am I saying mediumship of various kinds does not exist. What concerns me is spiritualists and fellow travellers propose an extensive body of survival evidence that rarely stands up to close scrutiny. I think there are cases that are compelling, but rather than add to them, Flint's work muddies the waters even further.

Neither am I convinced mediumship represents the kind of direct post-mortem communication its advocates suggest. As I said previously, it's more likely to be a form of disassociated independent mind, given what I've read on the subject over decades, a type of psychic Chinese Whispers that's deeply rooted in the medium's consciousness and only vaguely represents the thoughts and desires of the deceased. People can disagree with that summary, and suggest contrary readings, but I believe it's the one that best summarises what we know, which is very little.
OK. Maybe I'm dense... but I am still unclear as to what you are saying.

Are you saying there are no believable examples of communication with discarnate entities?

Or that you have issues with some of the cases? As I'm sure you know... There are literally thousands to consider.
 
#50
That's all very reasonable but as you've come to find, there are very few accounts that are so air tight as to be unassailable. I have personally come to also consider the volume and variety of evidence. There is just too much evidence to not take it seriously.
Hi JKMac

I am glad you think I am reasonable :)

I agree there is a great deal of high quality testimony, which is certainly a type of evidence in my book. I think it is a question of how we individually reach a decision based on it. I have no problem whatsoever with anyone having looked a the evidence, as you appear to have, saying that they are satisfied that survival is a fact. I am not as far along that road. I do have a problem if people don't look at the evidence and pronounce survival impossible, and to be honest anyone who looks at a fraction of the evidence and says survival is impossible would make me scratch my head too.

I listed some criteria which might be used to assess third-party evidence however each of the steps are in themselves subjective judgements (which is the point you made earlier). I think the best evidence for survival is direct personal experience at the end of the day. My experiences may not convince another person beyond all reasonable doubt but I would be happy to rely on them.
 
#51
OK. Maybe I'm dense... but I am still unclear as to what you are saying.

Are you saying there are no believable examples of communication with discarnate entities?

Or that you have issues with some of the cases? As I'm sure you know... There are literally thousands to consider.
Are there really thousands to consider? I used to believe so, I'm less convinced now. Let's be clear, the claim is that a medium can put you in touch with a deceased loved one in a similar way to an old switchboard operator. The operator was necessary to make the connection, but communication was between the two individuals seeking contact. If so we can wipe out anyone who says it sounds like Bill, or Bob, or Rob, or he's a father, acts as a father, he knew your father type stuff in the same way I don't require a telephone connection with someone similar to my father who isn't him.

There are some extraordinary cases, but there's also a lot of skullduggery. It's safer to separate the utterly inexplicable examples from the background noise.
 
#52
Are there really thousands to consider? I used to believe so, I'm less convinced now. Let's be clear, the claim is that a medium can put you in touch with a deceased loved one in a similar way to an old switchboard operator. The operator was necessary to make the connection, but communication was between the two individuals seeking contact. If so we can wipe out anyone who says it sounds like Bill, or Bob, or Rob, or he's a father, acts as a father, he knew your father type stuff in the same way I don't require a telephone connection with someone similar to my father who isn't him.

There are some extraordinary cases, but there's also a lot of skullduggery. It's safer to separate the utterly inexplicable examples from the background noise.
Yes there are thousands. But let me just mention one,,, but first let me recommend the book 21 Days Into Afterlife but Dr Piero Cali-Parisetti. Well worth the time if you are looking for a variety of data points.

He recounts one story which I have come across several times in my research...

It is the the case of the famous English medium Albert Best. Forgive me if I just offer the highlights. I'm sure if you are interested you can find all of the relevant details.

About 100 years ago, Rev David Kennedy's wife, before she died, said that she would attempt to contact him. Then she died.

The Rev saw a medium to give his wife a chance to contact him. The medium passed on various information which he initially accepted as proof of her survival but he then reconsidered as it was against his faith. As he left, the medium told him, your wife is determined to contact you, and she will find a way.

A week or so later while he was getting ready to give his sermon, he couldn't find a clean collar, and also was worried about a sermon he was about to give but hadn't written.

Just then the then-famous medium Albert Best (whom he did not know) called him and said his wife had contacted him and gave him a phone number and wanted him to call. He told the reverend where his collars were and where he could find a sermon which he had written previously. This call was followed occasionally by others. Every time the wife wanted to contact her husband, she contacted Albert Best who called the reverend. It got to the point where Mr Best asked the reverend to tell his wife to stop contacting him. Which he eventually did once he was convinced and which ended the string of contacts. He was so convinced, he wrote a book on the subject which no doubt hurt his credibility in the clergy.

Now I understand that this didn't take place in a laboratory but wouldn't this qualify as contact from a discarnate entity?
 
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#53
Reminds me of a story I heard,, I think it was in a video referencing Stevenson's work on reincarnation.

If you did research on 100 people who jumped off the Empire State Building, where 98 of the people met their expected end, but two landed softly and walked away.

Some would focus on the 98 people and discount the two who lived as anomalous/outlier data points.

I would suggest that one take a look at the two survivors: because there is something very interesting to learn there. (this is the same as the "Black Swan" or "White Fly" approaches where the exceptions contain the proof)
 
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#54
As I said previously, there are some compelling accounts, and you shouldn't take my hesitancy as lack of familiarity with the material. My concern is with the precise nature of the phenomenon we're encountering, why it so often follows formulaic patterns, why the messages are so banal (generally speaking), why mediums with excellent hits are sometimes so wide of the mark and even resort to cheating, why proponents of mediumship accept physical manifestations that are so blantantly false as authentic, why some deceased people come through and others do not, why the mundane nature of the accounts differ so widely from NDEs, why mediums are required when some deceased manifest to their loved ones with messages, etc, etc. I believe spiritualists are insufficiently unquestioning about what it is that's happening, and accept the junk paraphernalia of mediumship, that it's an individual communicator rather than an aspect of group mind or some other explanation, and so on. These things trouble me. I want to know why the deceased can only make their wishes known in something that resembles showtime via people who demand money for their services. The details may throw up evidence, but the bigger picture seems like a load of crap.
 
#56
Organized religion: Is it all bad?
I would say not, one reason - the Discovery Institute which funds a lot of research (by Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, Douglas Axe et al.) and education programs on intelligent design gets substantial funding from evangelical Christian foundations and individuals.

From an historical perspective, it is sadly, bafflingly, ironic that we have come to such a state where academic and scientific freedom have been turned on their heads to the extent that scientists who are critical of Darwinism have to go to religious organizations for funding.

However science and religion do not have to be opposed to each other, should not be opposed to each other, and it is unfortunate that the division ever came about. To the ancient Greeks there was no separation. Maybe it is a good thing that now at least in this area science and religion can work together.
 
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#57
Here is another example of religion and science complimenting each other. It is a fact sheet produced by the Magis Center of Reason and Faith outlining the evidence from the big bang and the fine tuning of the universe that the universe was created by a transcendent creator....

http://www.magiscenter.com/pdf/Magis_FactSheet.pdf
By Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., PhD.
The Magis Center of Reason and Faith is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to explaining the consistency between science and spirituality in contemporary physics. In the past ten years, implications of transcendence in physics, philosophy of mathematics, and metaphysics have become more pronounced. Indeed, no other decade in history has revealed more or better evidence for God. So what is this evidence?
...
As you will see from this fact sheet, if you put all this evidence together, it strongly leads to the conclusion that the universe was created by a trans-universal (supernatural) power. The evidence also indicates that this transuniversal power is highly intelligent. Fred Hoyle, one of the world’s most prominent astrophysists and an ardent atheist, completely changed his mind when he examined some of this evidence.
...
While this information is readily available to those who know where to look, very few people are aware of these breakthroughs in our ability to understand Creation scientifically. The Magis Center is working on a wide range of initiatives designed to deliver this information to the public, from documentaries to academic curricula and new media. This fact sheet provides a brief overview of the argument for a Creator combining physics and basic logic.
...
 
#58
I wrote this somewhere else but it is relevant to this thread so I am just pasting it here:
I don't know anything about the religious BS so maybe you are right I don't know. I am a self taught meditator since I was a child. At one point, as an adult, I started reading about Buddhism and that is where I learned about the deep states that accompany intense meditation practices. I started meditating more at home and also started going to the Zen center to meditate with a group and listen to lectures. Membership at the Zen center was only $120 per year, but I didn't join instead I put a few dollars in the donation box each time I came. I didn't have any problems with religious BS. The problems I have had are being ripped off by slick advertisements that delivered much less than they seemed to offer. My experience is that you get more BS from slick advertisers than you get from religious organizations.

I'm willing to believe in spirit communication, NDEs, ESP, Sasquatch, intelligent design, God, alien abductions, and spiritual healing, but I am skeptical of slick advertiesrs.

Maybe it is because I got scammed by [redacted] when I bought their CD set that promised to induce OBEs but only delivered non-veridical dreams of OBEs. But when I took classes at a Spiritualist Church I experienced doing veridical spirit communication and veridical remotive viewing, and spiritual healing myself. No religiouis BS there either, just personal experience of producing veridical evidence of psi and the afterlife for $5/$10 per class. (And if you didn't have the $$ you didn't have to pay.)
 
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#59
My attitude toward religion is best explained by something I learned when I took classes in spiritual healing. I was taught that all that is needed for healing to occur is the intention of the healer to act as a conduit for the healing energy to flow through him from a higher source.

One implication of this is that despite the fact that there are many different forms of energy healing, the particular method of healing is not important, only the intention of the healer is important. The best method of healing would be the one that helps the healer maintain his intentions best. If dancing around wearing a grass skirt and shaking a rattle helps you maintain your intention best, then that would be the best method for you.

When I judge a group of people meeting to practice their religion. I don't judge them by the form of their religion, I judge them by their intention. There are many people who practice religion with the right intention and their religion helps them to maintain their intention. That is good.

In a realm where there is no physical reality, a mind can do nothing but dream, ie create / share reality through thought.

The afterlife cannot be understood entirely by analogy to the physical world.
The afterlife is the ultimate reality, our "objective" world is what is unreal.

It seems absurd to me to criticize religions for being false when the entire physical universe is a dream and what seems even more absurd is that many of the critics are materialists who are much farther from the truth about consciousness than the religions they criticize.
 
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#60
A common truism in here, is that organized religion is bad, and an enemy of the truth. While "organized" perhaps sounds ok, "religion" rings bad ...and together, it's more of a monster. .
Is this about "in here" meaning the forum or "in here" meaning your noggin? I haven't seen that as a "truism" in the forum. To me it seems like there are those who do have that viewpoint and those that don't.
 
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