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February 05, 2013

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The first thing that came to mind when I read Rosenberg's thoughts were that he must be having us on. Then I just thought what an utter, utter prick.

If he is serious then he needs help, something has gone very wrong with his robot brain wiring. His reasoning is of the average teenage fifteen year old variety, dear oh dear.

On the "Subversive Thinking" website you can read an account of the Rosenberg vs. Craig debate, where Rosenberg got thoroughly pasted and apparently exhibited poor philosophical reasoning. (I wouldn't know; I'm not a philosopher.)

But in one way, Rosenberg is to be thoroughly congratulated. He has articulated the no-holds-barred, full implications of hardline atheism and fundamaterialism.

Make no mistake, if Rosenberg is right, life is utterly, absolutely pointless, there is no basis for morality and there isn't even a separately-existing "self". Total nihilism rules.

Now, I have talked to atheist friends who seem to think they can eat their cake and have it. They say things like: "I create my own meaning". But this is utterly delusional; there is no "self" to create anything, and the meaningful patterns they "create" in their life have no more substance than seeing the face of Elvis in a bowl of cornflakes.

These people simply haven't thought through the full implications of atheism and fundamaterialism. They should be forced to read Rosenberg's book; THIS is the soul-less creed that they have signed up for.

This black, bleak, catastrophically depressing articulation of the fundamaterialist meat-puppet worldview may fuel the psychological machismo of Rosenberg and his fellow atheists ("WE can take it 'cos we're tough, not like you wimpy religious types") but most people will be repelled to the core. We may have to accept Rosenberg's conclusions IF they are true, but most people who treasure the human experience will be driven to examine, more closely than ever, all the evidence for a contrary conclusion.

And, maybe, Rosenberg's "Atheist's Guide to Reality" might turn out to be the major religious book of our age; the one that makes even hardline atheists question their atheism. Now wouldn't that be a delicious irony?

"who knows, one day we might wake up and find ourselves living in a scientocracy, yet another bossy-boots political system..."


Oh, I do hope not. That would be my idea of hell.

Hardline religious people do not have the right to control what other people to think and believe and nor do they have the right to try to stop people living their lives the way they see fit - but what some of the hardline atheists are forgetting is that they don't have those rights either.

Two wrongs don't make a right. Some religious people have behaved terribly in the past, and have been the source of much bigotry and fighting - but atheists should not engage in this behaviour themselves.

And why, oh why, do the pseudosceptics spend so much time bullying (a good deal of their behaviour comes across as bullying to me) people such as witches, astrologers, ufologists, New Agers, psychics, etc? These people have not done anyone any harm, or caused society any major problems. Some bad things have been done in the name of religion, but this is not the case for astrology, witchcraft, et al.

If the pseudosceptics actually bothered to get to know psychics, New Agers and everyone else, they would probably find that they actually have a lot in common in other areas. But oh no, rather than deign to be friendly to their fellow human beings, the pseudosceptics decide that they will sneer at, ridicule and bully these people.

I honestly think that this brand of pseudosceptics (the nasty, name-calling kind) probably believe that anyone with an interest or belief in spirituality and the paranormal is an inferior human being. In my opinion, it's just another form of prejudice, like racism and sexism.

Robert, the comparison to Dada--brilliant! It made me laugh.

As for Rosenberg, reading his argumentation is too much like listening to my volubly anarchist grandson. They're all so cock-sure and full of attitude. Just too tiring.

@ Michelle Gibson -

"And why, oh why, do the pseudosceptics spend so much time bullying (a good deal of their behaviour comes across as bullying to me) people such as witches, astrologers, ufologists, New Agers, psychics, etc?"

Well, have you noticed that Religious Fundamentalists attack the SAME groups of people?

I've studied the online antics of both Religious Maniacs and Raving Atheists for several years now, and they are quite clearly the SAME psychological type - driven by the same control-freakish desire for absolute certainty and the same desperate need to feel superior to their fellow humans.

Astrology, UFOs, telepathy, psychokinesis, remote viewing, homoeopathy, acupuncture, Bigfoot, ghosts - these things are a threat to the cosy comfort-blanket worldview of BOTH groups.

(And yes, on one level even Rosenberg is presenting a comfort-blanket worldview; one in which "anything goes" and there will be no judgement in the afterlife. In other words, one without moral responsibility. This is the wish-fulfilment of an adolescent, just like Nancy Evans Bush's "volubly anarchist grandson".)

Both Religious Fundamentalists and Atheist Fundamaterialists have essentially identical mindsets; that's why they hate each other so much! "We have met the enemy and he is us".

And here's a lovely and pertinent post this morning from Bob Leckridge in Scotland.
http://heroesnotzombies.com/2013/02/05/the-ancient-conversation/

He concludes: "We are in continuous ancient conversation – between our invisible reality and our visible reality. It strikes me that it is pointless to think of a human being as if the invisible is irrelevant, unimportant, or in any way of lesser significance to visible, 'objective' reality."

Made me smile, as Rosenberg did not.

I thought the title was an instruction.

Clerrly, no one has ever told Rosenberg that only the insane never doubt or question their own rationale.

Ps. Should have been 'clearly. (Only the gormless never preview their online comments.)

Let's just deal with one of his sweeping statements,,,There is.. and we have no soul.

Many people have already experienced what they are convinced is their immortal soul in action so Rosenberg's statement is at least unscientific in that he isn't even aware that a pattern has been observed, suggestive of survival of consciousness.

Secondly I would wager a weeks wages that he has never read any of the substantial body of evidence that is amassing. He is 'acamdemically exempted' from having to actually look at any evidence because he already 'knows' there isn't any.

I sent Professor Rosenberg the video of Dr Lloyd Rudy recounting the post it note case and have politely asked him to explain how the patient was able to observe his surroundings in the operating room when he was comatose... dead and then comatose again.
Not surprisingly no reply so far.. I can already picture toothy Rosenberg tittering at my email and deleting it with a suitable expletive prefixing the word pleb. We'll see.

"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him."

- Leo Tolstoy

It seems to me that Alex Rosenberg is simply spelling out the implications of those family of beliefs associated and implied by atheism.

The problem with scientism is that current science completely leaves out of its story the existence of consciousness. Indeed science implies we are all philosophical zombies (non-conscious automatons). Of course matarialists try to avoid this conclusion by asserting consciousness is one and the same thing as some physical processes, or the function carried out by such processes. However this isn't just an unsubstantiated assertion, but rather quite literally meaningless. It contravenes Leibniz's law.

I think it makes a refreshing change for an atheist to fully articulate the consequences of his position. But I'm wondering if he attempts any half-decent arguments for atheism (.i.e not devote his energies to attacking simplistic conceptions of "god" and attacking organised religion).

I just can't take atheists seriously. Their positions are just so laughably ridiculous when spelled out so explicitly the way Rosenberg does so. And the fact that the putatively brightest atheist intellectuals out there cannot seem to grasp basic logic and lack the ability to think counterfactually is really strange and I think it says something for the psychology of the atheistically inclined. Trying to point these problems out to said atheists is another exercise in futility because they just don't (can't?) grasp it.

"Acamdemically" oh dear I don't know where i got the extra m from

"Acamdemically" oh dear I don't know where i got the extra m from

"In the same way, he thinks existentialist philosophers are silly for insisting that we must create meaning for ourselves. They never saw the 'fatuousness' of trying to create something that nature had ruled out as impossible."

I think this is actually true. I always wondered at existentialists who put on like they were being brave or courageous to live out their lives, and affecting to do so meaningfully, when all the while they were insisting there was no objective meaning to be had. I've met plenty of people who claim this and I just don't believe it. Rosenberg is more honest in saying that people just get up and change from their pajamas because that's what people are inclined to do - few people find the prospect of dying very enticing.

I don't buy that there is no objective meaning in the world - I'm just inclined to feel that it is obscured from us and we must try to guess at what that meaning is based on the hints and pieces of the puzzle we receive - a sort of "promissory meaningfulness" so to speak, since we see as through a glass darkly for now.

Why this perspective is so rarely articulated, I can't understand - you have religious folks or atheist folks screaming at the top of their lungs that they have certainty - to who? Themselves, I think. To silence their own doubts - to momentarily stop themselves from focusing too much on the incomplete pieces where doubt pools like water after a thunderstorm.

Well, the tide has come in and the previous high water marks have all been surpassed, and the water continues to rise.

We will see how much dry land is left for either camp by the middle of this century - let alone the end of it.

Ian Wardell:
"I think it makes a refreshing change for an atheist to fully articulate the consequences of his position."

Indeed it does, and I rather admire Rosenberg for this: his book should be required reading for all those metaphysical fashionistas who parade their trendy atheist chic at dinner parties. Similarly for those irritating comedians and minor celebs who have hopped on the atheist bandwagon in order to gain street-cred amongst the well-educated young.

HOWEVER: The full implications of atheism, which Rosenberg has so clearly laid out in his book, are so mind-numbingly nihilistic that Rosenberg doesn't even believe them himself! And neither does his fan club, whose comments on the Youtube video of the Rosenberg-vs-Craig debate suggest that the debate was "unfair" or that Rosenberg "won".

But if the good Professor and his disciples of scientism REALLY believe all their own rhetoric, they should realise that the concepts of "fairness" and "rightness" (moral judgments) do not exist! Nor does Dr. Rosenberg exist as a separate self - he's just a collection of molecules that happen to behave in an interesting way, so why should his fellow-atheists think there's even a "him" to be treated "unfairly"?

Let me be clear: I give great plaudits to Rosenberg for his forthrightness in laying out The Atheist Creed. (A better title for his book, perhaps?) But he's fatally undermined his own argument by behaving like a human being with moral feelings, rather than the meat robot he claims to be!

I use this example to piss off atheists who go too far.

Atheistic Last Rites:

"I would tell you to go in peace my son, but it's pointless. Remember, you were completely insignificant and your life had no meaning. All your choices were determined by random chemical interactions and you were never really ever more than a mere meat machine going through the motions.

When you die that is it. Nothing you brought to the world mattered and nothing you do now matters. You are simply erased when you die and that's that. Hope that's Ok."

Atheists get pretty angry when I post this. They don't like to be reminded how cold and heartless their philosophy is.

But to declare that life has no meaning is to place importance on meaning. It's circular.

What I find fascinating/confusing about the more extreme forms of atheism is the total certainty that informs it.

I have always valued doubt as something that stimulates inquiry. A human being having total and complete certainty about all of creation seems so silly no matter how impressive the sum total (or perceived sum total) of scientistic discovery in the areas of physics and cosmology may be.

Human achievement in such areas (no matter how much or little they will be updated as time goes on) should not allow any one human to think we have it all covered.

We actually are faced with people who are absolutely certain about how the entire universe is put together. What should stagger the imagination has been absolved of mystery and placed pat in its appropriate compartment and then roundly dismissed as meaningless. Strange acrobatics. We use our minds and our tools to map the universe and then declare, in a round about way, that we are the boss here.

anyway, great post, great comments, great food for thought but what do i know ?

Edward Fesor in his review of Rosenberg's book says:

"why should anyone accept scientism in the first place? Rosenberg gives a single brazen non sequitur in its defense. The predictive power, explanatory range, and technological successes of physics, he says, far outstrip those of other purported sources of knowledge. And this, he concludes, shows that what physics tells us is real is all that is real".

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/11/scientia-ad-absurdum

I have a problem here. Physics wholly leaves out the existence of consciousness in its description of the world. Indeed it deals exclusively with the world outside of consciousness, the quantitative world shorn of all qualitative aspects such as colours and smells.

So therefore how can scientism say that physics exhausts reality when . . er . . plainly it does not? What we would need to do is get rid of the problem of consciousness by equating it with some physical process or function. In other words assume some sort of materialist metaphysic!

But then Rosenberg seems to be justifying scientism by the implicit assumtion that physicalism/materialism correctly characterises reality. Hence his argument here should not impress anyone who's not a physicalist/materialist. These materialist guys always seem to transparently beg the question!

Perhaps I am missing something but I don't see the necessary connection between atheism and survival or the existence of soul or spirit. I do like Rupert's word: 'fundamaterialism' - this seems much closer to the point.

"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong." - Arthur C Clarke

I can see how one can be certain that a thing does exist, but I can't understand how one can categorically assert that something such a spirits or god definitely do not. The more honest might admit that it is possible, however in their view, highly unlikely, or so unlikely as to be indistinguishable from impossible.

In my discussions with scoftics online, I used to be surprised how firmly some held an opinion on survival and psi without having read any of the research, and how reluctant they are to read a book or a report - they often want one to transcribe material or cut and paste. I have occasionally been told to read the research by outfits like csicop - but there really isn't any to speak of. It could all be read comfortably over a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

A lot of the behaviour mentioned in the original post, has a distinct whiff of testosterone about it and the need for argument, to dominate and win. Nothing to do with learning or understanding - incidentally; a trait sometimes found in those who devoutly believe too, yes? Sounds like insecurity to me :)

As for the suggestion that if it doesn't conform to current accepted models in physics, that seems like a complete non sequitur to me - perhaps the classical physicists should have stuck to their guns and shouted Einstein down.

WHen Edward Feser reviewed Rosenbergs book at edwardfeser.blogspot.com, I sent a link to Rosenberg asking him if he wanted to respond. Rosenberg replied that it was hard to reply to such simplistic thinking. What Rosenberg did not tell me is that he had e-mailed Prof. Feser EIGHT TIMES after the First Things article had gone up, and all were responses to Edward Fesers review. I bear Prof. Rosenberg no ill will, however, since according to him lying doesn't matter, and I would have to have some sort of concrete self existence to be lied to in the first place.

"I would have to have some sort of concrete self existence to be lied to in the first place."

Who said that?! (looks around nervously)

Since he denies the existence of free will and believes reality is deterministic, one wonders why he even bothered to write a book... it's not like it would make a difference or change anyone's opinion, right? Seriously... Why even do science? After all, theories don't matter. They are just just a bunch of inconsequential atoms bouncing off of each other in some geek's head. Might as well sleep in...

@ Paul:

"Perhaps I am missing something but I don't see the necessary connection between atheism and survival or the existence of soul or spirit. I do like Rupert's word: 'fundamaterialism' - this seems much closer to the point."

Paul, you might be interested in Anthony Peake's books, "The Daemon" and "Is There Life After Death?" which postulate the existence of a non-theistic afterlife. (One does, however, have to buy into Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.)

David Staume's recently-published "The Atheist Afterlife" is another such dissertation - I've not yet read this one but it's on my next order from Amazon!

BTW "Fundamaterialist" is not my invention; I believe it was coined by the philosopher Neal Grossman.

I also like "scofftic"! (I can't be the only person here who is incensed that the formerly noble word "skeptic" now means "closed-minded materialist bigot", and that the phrase "critical thinking", in "skeptic" terminology, now means "not looking at any evidence contrary to materialism".)

I used to refer to myself as a skeptic but it's now become a tarnished word; I'd rather use Marcello Truzzi's "zetetic" which holds the original meaning.

Thanks Rupert - I can't claim 'scoftic' for myself either but I can't remember where I first saw it, it may have been a guy called Roger Knight who posts on Michael Prescott's forum occasionally.

As far as a non-theistic afterlife is concerned I suppose it depends what one regards as a god. I am not sure I am up for Everett's multiverse ideas but I don't mind having a bash at an Anthony Peake :)

Zetetic is a great word. I had to look the meaning up :) - it's not as 60's as I thought.

@Rupert

I once chanced upon David Staume's "The Beginner's Guide for the Recently Deceased" and purchased it on the spot. What an enjoyable read! I had never heard of him before or since, but I'm glad to hear he is still writing books. I will have to look into this one you mentioned.

@Philemon: thanks for the book recommendation. Just bought a copy from Amazon UK. Looks fascinating. :)

Great post, Robert. Like you, I find such views amusing and a logical outcome of hard scientism. I reckon he wrote the book for the money and for the notoriety.

However, there’s likely some truth in what he says. How do we know, really know, that there is in fact any meaning to the universe? If there is, then it’s a manufactured meaning – one imposed by God by diktat or thought up by non-omniscient subordinates. If Love is the meaning, then how come we spend so much time eating everything else alive and fighting each other? How come we find conflict so sexy? How come Satan got all the best lines in Paradise Lost? How come we mostly watch action movies (as in where lots of people get killed) instead of arthouse? How come when you bump into someone you’re more likely to hear “Fuck off” than “I love you”? And how come all the planets apart from Earth are barren, lifeless gas giants or rocky hellholes?

If ultimately, Consciousness is all there is instead of Matter, what have we gained?

Consciousness just is. You can look around and find something to do with it (be creative), but there can be no end or ultimate purpose. The possibilities are just endless instead of pointless.

I think that the evolutionary origin of human beings poses the biggest problem to spiritual belief systems, even more than the achievements of physics. Scientism can be criticized as having a physics that ignores the mystery of consciousness. But there is also the overwhelming evidence for a gradual stepwise evolution of human beings over millions of years, going through various stages such as Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo Erectus, and Neanderthal.

We like to think that morality and ethics are somehow part of the innate spiritual nature of man. The fields of evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology have amassed a lot of evidence that these qualities were gradually constructed as genetic and behavioral traits that favored survival of groups. Morality arose out of the social contracts formed in the pre-human eras of evolution, then became elaborated into “religious” models. For that matter, everything that is human appears to have developed slowly over millions of years. How to fit that into a spiritual world view?

You could, perhaps, read 'The Spirit's Book' by Alan Kardec (first published in the 1857)nbtruthman.

The culture of the 'rant', written or verbal, has been present in militant skepticism/atheism for many years. Have a trawl around some appropriate online forums and you'll find plenty of examples of it, I've found examples of skeptics congratulating each other on the quality of their 'rants'.

Others have alluded to the similarities of atheism between atheism/scientism and religion for a long time too, I think it may have been Oliver Lodge who likened the Royal Society to a priesthood. I would argue that there is no difference whatsoever between the two at root. All you need for a ‘religion’ is a worldview based on an idea of God (the idea that God does exist, or doesn’t exist), linked to an idea of morality (vagueness and circular thinking usually abound here), linked to a process that describes reality and one’s place within it etc. Add a touch of testosterone fuelled angst (as mentioned by Paul), and, hey presto!

What you get is the sort of gung ho ranting and raving from the pulpit (in the case of atheists, a metaphorical one) that really doesn’t amount to much more than someone (usually a bloke) in search of the emotional fix that comes from feeling that one’s personal world view is more valid that everyone else’s, and that feeling that you’re smarter than everyone else (despite all evidence to the contrary).

But, of course, that sense of exclusivity can come at a heavy price in terms of what everyone else, or others who aren’t prone to the same world-view bet wetting habit, think of you. Sure, people who buy in to the same ideology will pat you one the back (after ignoring all the holes in your arguments) and congratulate you on ‘busting’ (another sceptical/atheistic buzz-word) the opposition. But everyone else will just think you’re a bit of a prat – unfortunately, maybe, without realising that you, and others like you, could well be harbouring an unacknowledged desire to force everyone else to think the same way.

‘Old wine in new bottles’ is the cliché that springs to mind.

@nbtruthman:

"everything that is human appears to have developed slowly over millions of years. How to fit that into a spiritual world view?"

I'm not sure why the slow development of human faculties over millions of years should in any way pruclude a spiritual worldview.

(Of course, if one is debating young-earth creationists, the matter does indeed resolve into simple black and white. But I doubt that anyone contributing to this Forum holds such views.)

"We like to think that morality and ethics are somehow part of the innate spiritual nature of man. The fields of evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology have amassed a lot of evidence that these qualities were gradually constructed as genetic and behavioral traits that favored survival of groups."

I am also deeply suspicious of any attempt to (a) hold Darwinism up as the absolute last word concerning the origin and development of life; but even more suspicious of the recent fad for trying to elevate Darwinism into a Theory Of Everything.

The atheist writers David Stove (in his book "Darwinian Fairytales") and Raymond Tallis (in "Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity") have discussed the perils trying to make Darwinian evolution into a one-size-fits-all theory, but let me just use one example.

In an attempt to force the development of human beliefs into a Darwinian box, Richard Dawkins came up with the idea of "memes" - thoughtforms that could replicate in people's minds. He wrote a great deal about this and the concept of "memetics" seems to be accepted by a few other evolutionary theorists.

But, one has to ask, how much evidence is there for the existence of memes? And the answer is: exactly as much as there is for the existence of the Tooth Fairy.

One has to be cautious, therefore, of ascribing all of human consciousness, creativity, morality and behaviour to entirely Darwinian mechanisms; therein lies the road to pseudoscience.

(I once saw Dr Susan Blackmore, an enthusiastic supporter of the meme theory, discuss this on television. My jaw gaped wider and wider as she enthused over her subject. Dr. Blackmore didn't seem to realise that what she was saying, was exactly equivalent to claiming that people can be posessed by evil spirits!)

"I think that the evolutionary origin of human beings poses the biggest problem to spiritual belief systems, even more than the achievements of physics."

For my reservations about evolution-vs-spirituality, see above. As far as physics is concerned, read the works of physicists Casey Blood, Amit Goswami, Henry Stapp, Eugene Wigner and Richard Conn Henry, all of whom state that physics can be seen to SUPPORT spirituality. (For a brief intro, Google Richard Conn Henry's paper "The Mental Universe" - published in "Nature", no less!)

Incidentally, thanks for posing these questions and for doing so in a thoughtful way. Fellow Forum members - please don't jump down this gentleman's (or lady's?) throat; he or she is being polite and, like all the rest of us here, only trying to find the truth - as much as one can do so.


Rosenberg does not seem to be such a villain to me.

I agree that he is VERY wrong about MANY fundamental issues and he is not likely to be open to evidence that challenge these issues, but his nihilism is in some ways not that different to a Buddhist's approach to reality-as-an-illusion and although he says that morality is an illusion too, he thinks that the illusory morality that evolution has imposed on humans does not seem terribly grim really.

Sure he is wrong, and willfully so, but doesn't seem malicious.

Speaking of testosterone, I don't know if anyone here saw the recent Cambridge debate where Richard Dawkins, Andrew Copson & Arif Ahmed debated Rowan Williams, Tariq Ramadan & Douglas Murray (which, incidentally, is no longer available on YouTube due to a copyright claim from the Cambridge Union Society). It reminded me of a group of stags posturing and eyeing up each other antlers. The only one who came out of the 'debate' with any intellectual dignity was Rowan Williams. All in all rather sad, I thought.

Sad and dispiriting, actually. 8(

Please excuse the ramble, but after having just finishing reading a book by Michael Tymn titled “Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife” and some of the original referenced documentation of Richard Hodgson and James Hyslop who figured prominently in the investigation of Leonora Piper, I am convinced that Mrs. Piper, through some gift of fortune or misfortune acted as a conduit through which entities from another reality communicated with people living here on earth. The mind-blowing implication of the Piper case of course and other similar though categorically different evidence is that spirit entities do, in fact, exist and that at least some of them, seem to be spirits of people who had lived at least one physical life on earth. ( It does not however prove that there is a God; spirit survival and the existence of God are two different concepts allowing that the crux of the existence of “God” is dependent upon how one defines “God” of course.)

I started to wonder just what would it be like in the world today if a paradigm shift did occur in which it became an accepted mainstream belief that, 1. human beings and perhaps other animate life forms did in fact have an indwelling spirit and, 2. that the indwelling spirit was able to leave its physical form at death and perhaps at other times to enter into another dimension in which it lived a life in another form, perhaps very similar to the one it had just left, at least for a while. What if after the body died, the spirit just simply stepped out and without any strife or pain, stepped into that other reality. What if that belief became accepted as a law of nature supported by Quantum Theory, String Theory, a Boson Particle and whatever other fad ideas are accepted as part of the “scientific method”.

How would that paradigm shift change how humans live their lives on earth today? Would it really make any difference? Would everyone believe it to be true or would there still be people who are the “brights” who, similar to those atheists today, say that God doesn’t exist, that the holocaust didn’t happen, that man never walked on the moon, and that mercury is perfectly safe for humans, that there is no cure for cancer, and that homosexuality is just a natural form of population control (which of course it is).

I have thought long and deep about this and sometimes think that a new paradigm of survival of the spirit just simply will never be, that is, it is not allowed to be---at least not now. It would be too disruptive to the life we know in a three dimensional reality. When I became so convinced of a spiritual reality knowing that there is an abundance of evidence which supports this belief, even then I have times when I still cannot accept it as my reality maybe because I don’t see that evidence in my own life. I am at a loss to know how that belief or new fact changes anything for me in any way. I still feel the same. I still eat, sleep, and move through my daily routines. I still ache, experience physical and emotional pain and loss. I still grieve and am still afraid of dying. What am I supposed to do now? Does it have any real consequence in the life I live now?

Maybe there is safety in numbers. Perhaps that is what both the believers and the atheists are trying to achieve; safety in numbers. The more people we can convince of our understanding of what is real, then the more we feel that our belief system really is real for us. We are comforted, our existential angst is reduced and we can continue on living with some modicum of superiority, direction, strength and peace.

I wish there were another word for skeptic, which has lost its original meaning, because whatever that word would be that’s what I am and probably will continue to be until I experience spirit survival for myself.


I can tell you how the possibility (probability?) that life extends beyond physical death affects me: It ensures that I behave as well as I am able towards others. If there's one torture that I fear more than any other it's that of having to endure a life review in which I must experience the damage and heartbreak that I've inflicted upon others - especially loved ones.

Amos says "I am at a loss to know how that belief or new fact changes anything for me in any way. I still feel the same. I still eat, sleep, and move through my daily routines"
My reply:
Our lives are only changed systematically if we accept something as 'unconditionally good'. That might be afterlife, or God, or creativity, or something in us perceived to be above nature. Whatever it is, deciding to accept it gives us a reference point in life. It has to be more than a purely 'academic' belief!

@Rupert McWiseman: I'm not sure why the slow development of human faculties over millions of years should in any way pruclude a spiritual worldview.

It is the position of evolutionary biology that all human qualities are the result of positive and neutral selection either biological or sociocultural. They were apparently built up gradually over millions of years, through the various stages preserved in the fossil record. This would include cherished qualities like moral codes, compassion, empathy, love, art, music, mathematical ability. For instance, moral codes presumably are an emergent product of selective pressure generating a genetic component, plus the evolution of social contracts. The overall binding purpose of all these “contracts” is to increase the survivability or productive efficiency of the species or inter-species group. This requiries behavioral codes of co-operation and co-dependancy.

This is bolstered by an immense amount of research and evidence in the behaviors of various primates and other social animals accumulated by generations of scientific workers.

If everything that makes us human was gradually constructed over vast periods of time by various forms of natural genetic variation plus various forms of selection including sociocultural, then what is left of the spiritual world view that the human is a reflection of the Divine, or at least of innate qualities of the Soul? I guess nothing - this view seems incompatible with the admittedly large amount of evidence for survival from psychical research. It is definitely incompatible with most spiritual teachings including those coming out of New Age thinking.

One has to be cautious, therefore, of ascribing all of human consciousness, creativity, morality and behaviour to entirely Darwinian mechanisms; therein lies the road to pseudoscience.

Consider moral codes. Our human moral activity mostly falls into several categories: justice or punishment for misdeeds, (limited) protection for the vulnerable and weak, defense against incursion, and sex and family ties. There are pre-human versions of all of these in the animal kingdom, especially in the primates. These categories became our criminal justice system, our welfare system, our bloodline ties, and our patriotic allegiance. In other words, the main systems governing our moral behavior can all be seen as prototypes in the animal kingdom, later to have been greatly elaborated in human beings through social or cultural evolution. So Darwinian mechanisms account for much of what makes humans human, with the rest a gradual accumulation of socially passed-down cultural traits.

I guess nothing - this view seems incompatible with the admittedly large amount of evidence for survival from psychical research. It is definitely incompatible with spiritual teachings including those coming out of New Age thinking.

The problem is that the empirical research of the afterlife and spiritualist ideologies are independent, so that evolutionary biology is not incompatible with the results of empirical investigations of the afterlife.

@doubter:

"It is the position of evolutionary biology that all human qualities are the result of positive and neutral selection either biological or sociocultural."

"Everything that makes us human was gradually constructed over vast periods of time by various forms of natural genetic variation plus various forms of selection including sociocultural."

Thank you for articulating the problem. ALL human qualities, EVERYTHING that makes us human, can be explained ENTIRELY by Darwinian mechanisms.... or so we are told.

As a skeptic (zetetic), I am deeply suspicious of any "nothing-buttery" argument in any field of investigation. All too often (perhaps that should read "without exception"), the history of science has shown that such notions are ludicrously simplistic.

Rather than attempt to point out the flaws of "Darwinitis", I would refer you to someone much smarter than me, the atheist and polymath Professor Raymond Tallis, who has covered these problems in detail:

http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk/DarwinDarwinitis.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5baL9oh430

"What is left of the spiritual world view that the human is a reflection of the Divine, or at least of innate qualities of the Soul?" (If EVERYTHING that makes us human is NOTHING BUT Darwinian mechanisms?)

Well, one spiritual worldview that would still qualify is panentheism. (Divinity resides at the heart of all matter).

To be clear; I don't doubt evolution. But I DO doubt that Darwinian mechanisms explain EVERYTHING.

In writing the above, to steer "doubter" towards Raymond Tallis' demolition of "Darwinitis" (the concept that EVERYTHING that makes us human can be explained by NOTHING BUT Darwinian mechanisms), I was prompted to re-read the Great Debate article by Tallis.

Interestingly, I found a quotation which is entirely relevant to this thread on Alex Rosenberg's philosophy of atheist scientism.

First, here's a statement by Professor Rosenberg:

"My conception of scientism is almost the same as that of those who use it as a term of abuse. They use the term to name the exaggerated and unwarranted confidence that science and its methods can answer all meaningful questions. I agree with that definition except for the ‘exaggerated’ and ‘unwarranted’ part."

Put this alongside the following quotation from Professor Tallis:

"Being a good Darwinian means not succumbing to Darwinitis; just as good science stops when we succumb to a scientism that seems to imagine that it is able to explain everything."

I entirely agree with Professor Tallis. If scientists take the view that - for example - there CANNOT be a God; or there CANNOT be life after death; or the mind CANNOT be anything more than the brain - then they have simply stopped doing science.

After all, nobody considers the statement "the Earth CANNOT be anywhere other than the centre of the universe" to be a scientific statement - it's clearly metaphysical dogma. But that's because we are reading it with the benefit of hindsight.

However, if a contemporary "media" scientist says "the mind CANNOT be anything other than the brain", people believe him! I can think of no greater strategy to further human understanding than to divorce science from some supposedly necessary alliance with scientism, atheism and materialism.

@ Rupert McWiseman:

Yes, I have indeed noticed that religious fundamentalists attacks psychics, occultists, etc - and you make a good point about aggressve religious people and aggressive sceptics as having a very similar mindset. The 'Fundamaterialists' as you call them display exactly the kind of bigoted, intolerant behaviour that they criticise in others. I for one am sick of seeing it happen. The 'Fundamaterialists' quite rightly decry prejudice when it's directed at certain groups of people, but have no problem showing prejudice to people like you or I. They're as nasty towards witches/spiritualists, etc as any racist or homophobe is towards people of different colour or gays.

I guess the reason I find it so hard to figure out is because I can see no justifiable reason for them to criticise psychics or witches or occultists as a group. There are some negative aspects to the major religions which unfortunately have caused a lot of suffering and hatred in the past - and still do today, to some extent. (Although, having said that, there are a lot of things I like about religion too.)

But the history of witchcraft and psychics and everything else is not dotted with aggression and bigotry the way that some of the major religions are. There is literally no good reason for the aggressive sceptics to bully and mock the way they do - especially when the indiviuals they are targeting are often doing no harm at all and just want to lead their life the way they want to. The aggressive sceptics' behaviour often comes across to me as simply being nasty for the sake of being nasty. There's no real justification for it, they just seem to like being unpleasant.

If one threatens another's worldview, or sense of personal authority, then they usually become aggressive and censorial. 'Tis a very common phenomenon when dealing with small minds. The kind of sceptics you refer to see themselves as moderators on the forum of the world.

@ Michelle Gibson:

"But the history of witchcraft and psychics and everything else is not dotted with aggression and bigotry the way that some of the major religions are. There is literally no good reason for the aggressive sceptics to bully and mock the way they do."

Oh, but I think there is. Granted, psychics and witches do not incite warfare or violence. But unfortunately they represent a non-material, spiritual worldview. Now in the mind of the "skeptic", ANYTHING which doesn't fit the fundamaterialist paradigm is a threat, as such things have a tenuous connection with God, Spirit or other concepts heretical to the materialist gospel. Thus, they must be stamped out.

But, you're right, a not inconsiderable number of these people aren't driven by metaphysical ideology at all; they're just vicious hatemongers who think that being a member of an Organised "Skeptic" group is more hip and current than joining the Ku Klux Klan or the NeoNazis.

@ Julie Baxter:

"The kind of sceptics you refer to see themselves as moderators on the forum of the world."

I like that one! I tend to refer to them as "The Reality Police".

'I tend to refer to them as "The Reality Police".'

We've all met them: tedious, self-important and oppressive. The Lilliputians of cyberspace. And yet sometimes they reside where one might least expect them. Like fundamentalism, it's a character trait (and a most unfortunate one to boot!).

@ Rupert

Yes, I see what you mean. I also agree that for the types of people we are talking about, anyone who represents a spiritual worldview - even if they go about it quietly and let others do and believe as they please - is seen as something of a threat. Unnecessarily, in my opinion! I've never seen any psychics, witches, occultists, etc, try to impose their worldview on others or tell people how to live their lives.

I just don't view the fact that we have an opposing ideology about reality as a "good reason" for sceptics to bully us. They obviously think it is, but picking on someone simply because they have a different worldview is just low.

I see differing beliefs as being rather like differing musical genres/tastes. There are all kinds of different ones out there for all kinds of different people. I love the Bee Gees and the Carpenters, others love punk rock, others love country, etc. (The full range of my musical tastes is pretty eclectic, containing stuff from many genres, but I digress.)

Just in the same way as varying people like varying types of music, some people are Buddhists, some Hindus, some Christians, some atheists, some witches, etc. Different strokes ("What'cha talkin' about, Willis?") for different folks.

Just as people shouldn't be bullied for the kind of music they like, people shouldn't be bullied for their view of reality. Yet it happens, all too often.

On a purely rational basis, Rosemberg is right. Science is the most successful explanatory systems in history: while greek philosophers could have argued for millennia about atoms without coming to a definitive conclusion, science gave us that conclusion. So, if the concept of meaning is not rooted in science, it is a purely anthropocentric construct, without any bearing outside of human experience. Three problems with that:
1) Human experience is, for us, far more important than nuclear reactions inside a distant star. Truth be told, human experience is ALL there is for us. So, if Finnegan's Wake impact human life in profound ways, introspection and meaning have a real, effective albeit non-measurable effect.
2) Scientific understanding is far from complete, and claiming that "in the end" it would simply confirm the worldview of our times is just faith, pure and simple, much more so if we keep an open mind on the results of parapsychology, which a decent number of good scientists (Josephson, Thorpe, Stapp come to mind) considers worthy of consideration. On a side note, it's always funny seeing how the most ardent fanboys of science are philosophers that never have engaged in actual research, not scientists.
3) Even is Rosemberg was right, he could still be accused of cowardice. If life is without meaning, and science don't even promise a kind of transhumanist salvation, why keep living at all? Why take pills when you could just be dead and put and end to this nonsense? Just for enjoying the fine things of life? But pleasure is fleeting and pain, loss, sadness are unavoidable to a certain extent, all of which we must endure for no reason at all. So, the rational consequence of this kind of atheism is suicide. It speaks volumes about the non-viability of such a philosphy that there are living proponents at all.

asongforsimeon - Even is Rosemberg was right, he could still be accused of cowardice. If life is without meaning, and science don't even promise a kind of transhumanist salvation, why keep living at all?

If Rosenberg is right life might be without meaning, but there might (if you worship science and technology enough) still be a future where posthumans would be nearly immortal, enhanced uploads into hugely advanced computers. Or they could be the result of making many smaller but cumulatively profound augmentations to biological humans. The transhumanist movement claims that this is almost inevitable given Moore's law and other advancements of technology and medicine.

I think this is nonsense, but the true believer in materialism and science might pause and consider it before taking those pills. Ray Kurzweil, one of the leading transhumanists and an AI expert, is so sure of it that he is trying to prolong his life as long as possible by taking 150 supplements and other treatments a day.


Juan - "The problem is that the empirical research of the afterlife and spiritualist ideologies are independent, so that evolutionary biology is not incompatible with the results of empirical investigations of the afterlife."

Exsctly! As an example,David Russel Wallace, co-author of Theory Of evolution,was devout believer in afterlife/spiritualist

"If Rosenberg is right life might be without meaning, but there might (if you worship science and technology enough) still be a future where posthumans would be nearly immortal, enhanced uploads into hugely advanced computers."

I, also, do believe that, given sufficient time and as our technological capacity increases, thus making a human exction event unlikely, transhumanist predictions will eventually come to pass, but militant materialists like Rosemberg are not transhumanists: I remember, for instance, a very critical (and poorly documented) article against cryonics by Shermer. And, even if Rosemberg was like Kurzweil, there is no meaning and no point in that kind of immortality: at best you could end contemplating the thermic death of the universe, you're just postponing the inevitable.

It seems that Rosenberg is one of the most important philosophers of science in the world, apparently among the top 15.

This is the reason why his debate with leading theist and scholar William Lane Craig was so much awaited in the philosophical and religious community in US.

Jime the author of the "Subversive Thinking" blog, attended the debate and is writing a series of posts reviewing it:

http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/search/label/Review%20of%20the%20Craig%2FRosenberg%20debate

The full dabate is now available in youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYf45k5-nbU

This debate will be published in a book with contributions of several thinkers, atheists and theists alike.

Juan - "The problem is that the empirical research of the afterlife and spiritualist ideologies are independent, so that evolutionary biology is not incompatible with the results of empirical investigations of the afterlife."

It had never occurred to me that anyone might think otherwise.

Juan - The problem is that the empirical research of the afterlife and spiritualist ideologies are independent, so that evolutionary biology is not incompatible with the results of empirical investigations of the afterlife.

This may be a partial solution. It would be necessary to divorce the empirical afterlife evidence from all the spiritual teachings about the nature of the afterlife and its meaning and purpose, many of which come from mediumistic communications of the sort that have also offered some of the best evidence. It would still be necessary to reconcile evolution with this, but it would be a lesser problem.

I suppose it could be held that the physical brain is a product of evolution while simultaneously positing that the selective pressures that have guided that evolution have been for its better function as a transceiver of consciousness, rather than as a generator. This would be a sort of dualistic Darwinism where the main difference is that in the dualistic version what brains have evolved to do (in part at least) is access independently existing consciousness, rather than generate it.

I suppose that would be a start. But there are still problems in making sense of this. The claims of evolutionary biology, anthropology and sociology are very persuasive if one really looks into them. These are that much or most of what makes humans human can be shown to have an origin in biological, social and cultural evolution. The principles of this seem to be part of the natural physical order and not from a spiritual world.

Why would spirit depend on such an inefficient, contingent process dependent on so many random factors and seeming to have no ultimate goal, in order to finally come up with a form that can allow it to fully manifest itself? Just one of the random factors was the impact of the huge asteroid 65 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs and made the development of higher mammals possible.

Then there is the demarcation problem. This is the difficulty in defining at what point in biological complexity does an animal acquire a unique "soul" or spirit that survives in some sense. Is it only humans? What about at the one of the prehuman hominid stages like Homo erectus or Neanderthal? If so, we delegate beloved pets to soulless, spiritless status. If this doesn't seem tenable, then where is the dividing line? Lower mammals like rats? Or reptiles or amphibians, grasshopper or even amoebae? It seems kind of arbitrary to assign this point, but it needs to be done.

nbtruthman:

"These are that much or most of what makes humans human can be shown to have an origin in biological, social and cultural evolution. The principles of this seem to be part of the natural physical order and not from a spiritual world."

"Why would spirit depend on such an inefficient, contingent process dependent on so many random factors and seeming to have no ultimate goal, in order to finally come up with a form that can allow it to fully manifest itself?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That's an interesting point, because it flags up something that's always puzzled me: given the natural tendency of matter and energy to fall from order into disorder, WHY would life have come into existence in the first place?

There are a gazillion steps along the road to the first living cell; why did the effects of entropy not result in the random "bits" of the cell-making process falling apart a gazillion times?

In other words, if the universe is an accidental emergence of something from nothing for no reason, and if there is no purpose to its existence, and if the natural trend of the stuff of the universe is ultimately toward greater disorder, why should anything living emerge at all?

I can understand why - for example - stars, planets and galaxies would form as a result of the laws of physics. I can understand why the building blocks of life such as carbon, should form as a result of intrastellar processes.

But once we get to the emergence of the first living cell, things seem very different. A complexity of a massively higher magnitude suddenly bursts upon the scene. This seems to be almost a rebellion against the laws of physics - a rebellion against entropy. An assertion of some sort of PURPOSE or TRAJECTORY where none should exist.

Anyone got any ideas about this?

"Anyone got any ideas about this?"

Yes, I hope you're right.

Rupert McWiseman - In other words, if the universe is an accidental emergence of something from nothing for no reason, and if there is no purpose to its existence, and if the natural trend of the stuff of the universe is ultimately toward greater disorder, why should anything living emerge at all?

In that case, this sort of ultimate "why" kind of question would be pointless. There would be no whys, only hows. But it is true that with life, "A complexity of a massively higher magnitude suddenly bursts upon the scene". That seems inexplicable to evolutionary and molecular biologists, even though various unsatisfactory hypotheses keep being proposed. I think abiogenesis is the biggest area where Darwinism fails and can can respond only with endless promises. This is where Intelligent Design has the most credibility. Not specifying the actual nature of the source of life, it looks very much as if the first cells were somehow injected into the early Earth environment. There were only a few hundred million years between the solidification of the crust and the first fossil evidence of microorganisms. This doesn't look much more unreasonable than to suppose it was a one in a googolplex chance combination of amino acids.

And the arguments for cosmological fine tuning of the laws of physics by a creative Intelligence seem to be quite persuasive, despite all the debunking attempts with concepts like an eternal multiverse. There is a strong impression of cosmological design.

Perhaps that design purposely included a physical existence in which under the right circumstances, once life was introduced, variation and selection would eventually one way or another result in self-aware intelligent beings that could manifest Spirit. Though not necessarily in human form. Unfortunately there are what appear to be good objections to these ideas, and it seems to me we have to live with contradictions and uncertainty, unless we are True Believers.

It would be necessary to divorce the empirical afterlife evidence from all the spiritual teachings about the nature of the afterlife and its meaning and purpose, many of which come from mediumistic communications of the sort that have also offered some of the best evidence.

I disagree, because of what it is to reconcile evolutionary biology with New Age ideologies and assertions as that human being is a reflection of divine perfection, but neither the New Age is based on mediumistic communications nor mediumistic communications more reliable tell us that the human being is a reflection of the divine. In fact more robust mediumistic communications show that the deceased remain more or less the same knowledge they had before dying.

The claims of evolutionary biology, anthropology and sociology are very persuasive if one really looks into them. These are that much or most of what makes humans human can be shown to have an origin in biological, social and cultural evolution. The principles of this seem to be part of the natural physical order and not from a spiritual world.

You seem to assume that if there is a spiritual world, then this world has to participate in the creation of human beings. I do not see why, because you have to stick to the evidence and not assume things as they should be if certain things are real. I see psychic evidence leads us to conclude that there is an ethereal body for consciousness that persists after death and has evolved along with the organic body in mutually beneficial relationship.

Why would spirit depend on such an inefficient, contingent process dependent on so many random factors and seeming to have no ultimate goal, in order to finally come up with a form that can allow it to fully manifest itself?

We limit to the evidence and not assume that the spiritual world cannot be subject to random and contingency.

This is the difficulty in defining at what point in biological complexity does an animal acquire a unique "soul" or spirit that survives in some sense. Is it only humans?

According to theosophical traditions, the etheric body or soul is what sustains the organic body, so that all living beings have an ethereal body that remains after biological death. So really there is no demarcation.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Evolution theory is incomplete, as is science in general concerning the origin of life and the universe.

There is another possibility - maybe we try yo formulate what is "spiritual" in incorrect way? What if we replace word "spiritual" with "etheric"? And then we may follow Arthur Findlay: "here and now we are etheric beings clothed in a physical body and that death only means a separation of this etheric body from the physical covering"

“This seems to be almost a rebellion against the laws of physics - a rebellion against entropy. An assertion of some sort of PURPOSE or TRAJECTORY where none should exist.

Anyone got any ideas about this?” - Rupert

I do not know why you assume purpose. What purpose do you propose? Simply to experience independent existence? Animals are automatons, and do not experience independence. Humans think they do, but are mostly ruled by cultural conditioning. Human culture is inferior to natural, animal ways of living –animals do not usually foul their own nest (or if they do, they become extinct, and leave the stage for others: we seem to want to make every other species extinct first, then follow on afterwards).

What is the point of experience? The Universe is itself going to die, just as we are. I don’t see how there can be any purpose.

@ Barbara:

"I do not know why you assume purpose. What purpose do you propose?"

Barbara, I neither assume nor propose purpose. Please read my words again carefully. "This SEEMS to be a rebellion against entropy, an assertion of some sort of purpose".

The operative word is SEEMS. Seeming to be is not the same as being. Life could SEEM to have a purpose, yet it could still have arisen by accident.

My interest is in HOW this might have happened, given that even single-celled life is monumentally complex, and given that without any life in the universe there are no Darwininan mechanisms in operation to "climb Mount Improbable".


Just came across the following quotation and feel it belongs here:

"As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter."

— Max Planck

Juan - You seem to assume that if there is a spiritual world, then this world has to participate in the creation of human beings. I do not see why, because you have to stick to the evidence and not assume things as they should be if certain things are real. I see psychic evidence leads us to conclude that there is an ethereal body for consciousness that persists after death and has evolved along with the organic body in mutually beneficial relationship.

There could be no evolution of the etheric body in a spiritual world, since mechanisms like genetic variation and natural selection don't operate there. If the "etheric body" evolves along with the physical body so as to duplicate it in "etheric" substance, then it must be generated by the physical body. Theosophical doctrine conflicts with this reasoning, where the etheric body is held to be essentially the mold or the archetype upon which the physical body is built. There doesn't seem to be a mechanism by which the evolving physical body would change the construction of the etheric body.

I guess you are saying that there is a spiritual world, but it is dependent upon the physical world for its existence and functioning. There is no "top down" creative influence behind evolution, and we have to accept that our existence is an accident as materialist Darwinists have long claimed.

The consequence is that there is no spiritual evolution - it is essentially all physical, mainly Darwinian genetic variation plus selection. That would exclude meaning and purpose from the spiritual world. This is a high price to pay, but it is at least at a minimum congruent with the empirical evidence of psychical research.

We limit to the evidence and not assume that the spiritual world cannot be subject to random and contingency.

That is an interesting concept. It just takes a little getting used to, dumping all the spiritual teachings about the meaning and purpose of life, But the reasoning seems inexorable.

According to theosophical traditions, the etheric body or soul is what sustains the organic body, so that all living beings have an ethereal body that remains after biological death. So really there is no demarcation.

If there is no demarcation, then non-sentient creatures like fish, invertebrates like molluscs and beetles, and even amoebae and plants without any nervous system or brain whatever still have some sort of etheric bodies that live on after physical death. I think the theosophical doctrine even holds that the mineral kindom has some sort of etheric counterpart. It might be wondered what sort of afterlife is experienced by such relatively simple creatures. This idea could also be regarded as a sort of reductio ad absurdum, except for the existence of real psychical research evidence for a human "etheric body" in things like apparitions and NDE OBEs. It is too bad the term is so antiquated, being tied to the long dead 19th century notion of a "luminiferous ether" pervading space.

Rosenburg must be insane. Seriously, this overgrown teenage behavior of rampaging your own belief system over everyone else is as bas what the religious fundamentalism do. I sure hope the crazy atheists never take away the human experience of wonder and msyterious.

I guess you are saying that there is a spiritual world, but it is dependent upon the physical world for its existence and functioning. There is no "top down" creative influence behind evolution, and we have to accept that our existence is an accident as materialist Darwinists have long claimed.

I do not know what the relationship between the etheric body and biological evolution. What I know is that the psychic evidence is strong enough to accept the existence of something like ethereal or astral body.

The consequence is that there is no spiritual evolution - it is essentially all physical, mainly Darwinian genetic variation plus selection. That would exclude meaning and purpose from the spiritual world. This is a high price to pay, but it is at least at a minimum congruent with the empirical evidence of psychical research.

There is also another possibility in this approach. What from our perspective it seems random (biological evolution by random mutation and natural selection), may follow a pattern from a higher perspective. I just do not know.

This idea could also be regarded as a sort of reductio ad absurdum, except for the existence of real psychical research evidence for a human "etheric body" in things like apparitions and NDE OBEs.

That idea is not reductio ad absurdum because the degree of consciousness may vary as a spectrum, but the etheric body remains the biological body support.

" . . . . there is an ethereal body for consciousness that persists after death and has evolved along with the organic body in mutually beneficial relationship."

Psychological evolution . . . . . the evolution of consciousness?

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