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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-13 at 13:35:08:

In the blog I just read, you talked about Genesis having holes in it. I'm a Christian and I'm pretty new at the thing too, but I was told you shouldn't just read the book from the beginning, you should start at the book of John. It makes more sense. Just a tip from a new Christian.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-03-13 at 15:28:17:

As far as I'm aware there isn't very much in John which is relevant to what's in Genesis, so I'm not sure how that is supposed to help. I think that's a bit of a red herring. Are you saying Genesis is true, or not?

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-14 at 05:05:48: Absolutely true.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-03-14 at 08:07:38:

Well you are out of touch with reality then. You really are. There is no way to support Genesis as being literally true. If you choose to think it is, because of faith or whatever, you're just ignoring the facts and dooming yourself to ignorance.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-24 at 19:52:03:

What if the story related in Genesis is much stranger than you or the majority of Christians have begun to consider? What if the 'days' of Genesis are 'days of Brahma' or 4.32 billion years as the?

The universe and earth is then considerably older than the current scientific estimate of 4 billion years. What about the variable nature of time and matter? And lets not forget the tendency of people to frame all interpretation in terms of their current and fleeting contemporary concepts. The sun and earth, plants and animals, humans could have been formed (as one theory goes) as 'spiritual' architypes long before their physical manifestation.

You're right, there are lots of questions, lets make it our business to find them.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-03-25 at 09:23:07:

We now know that the Universe is about 13.7 billion years, so you're still not right. Also, the Earth is only 4.5 billion years. And the order of events in Genesis is wrong, even if you ignore the time period. And many of the events would have occurred in the last few billion years not spread out evenly as the Genesis chronology suggests.

The only way to make Genesis work is to change it so completely that it is a totally different story. Its as simple as that: its pure fiction.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-25 at 17:28:18:

Nice 'lude by the way, I have a 4th gen as well. The point I was trying to make about Genesis is that the 'days' are actually huge expanses of time (each billion of years) and the order of events is incorrect, as you say, when framed in comtempory ideas of what a 'plant' or 'animal' is.

In order to begin to understand Genesis (and other parts of the bible) people will have to think so much further outside of the little box they currently inhabit its not funny. It doesn't help that meaning has been lost from the Bible and other texts over time. Are you like the religious folk you mention, and have actually already fixed in your mind what is true and what is not? Personally I'm not impressed with religious types who don't think for themselves and wallow in ignorance, denying things such as evolution and associated evidence based on their flawed interpretation of Genesis.

Equally, I'm not impressed with individuals who dogmatically argue that there is no such thing a 'spirit' as they can't see it and the Bible is a load of bunk as to their keen minds it makes no sense. Would you take seriously a blind man who says there is no such thing as colour? There are many many things people do not understand, and yet they are so...

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Comment by OJB on 2007-03-25 at 17:40:13:

Yes, I have heard the old argument about days being long periods of time before. It still doesn't work for the reasons I outlined above. Changing what a plant or animal is just to suit Genesis is rather arbitrary. We could make a hundred changes to what we think about the world to suit Genesis, or make one change to Genesis: admit its fiction.

Thinking outside the box is fine, but for the Bible to be true we would have to change just about everything we know from geology, biology, history, archaeology, astronomy, etc... Why should we do that just to suit what an old book says?

I currently think there is no spirit and I do think the Bible is bunk, but show me the evidence and I will change my mind!

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-26 at 20:42:30:

Most people 'believe' what they believe because it suits a personal bias or agenda in some way and not because of the hard facts or 'truth'. Are you sure you are objective in your apparent quest against Christianity or does it suit a bias or agenda? You should know I am not religious in the conventional sense. Truth is my only interest and like you I am frustrated by those who refuse to think for themselves.

As for evidence, or 'proof' - this is an external demonstration of 'truth' - truth being somewhat an internal experience or entity. Some truths are more readily demonstrated than others. I can derive Euler's formula for you - proof of this mathematical theorem most would agree. But Euler's formula is true whether I have the ability to convey proof to your or not. It may also be true that your great grandfather ate a carrot on this very day 100 years ago, but the proof may be somewhat harder to come by.

Genesis may also be equally true (correctly understood) but how would you go about proving that to someone who had no internal sense of its truth? Currently there are no means to externally demonstrate the events of Genesis. I cannot 'prove' it to you - but this says nothing about whether it is true or not. Nor is it an immediate failure on my part. Nor do I want to change your mind. I encourage you to improve your own mind. Truth has a life of its own and is pervasive. If you search earnestly you eventually discover the truth.

Your comments on the Bible and Christ suggest you haven't studied the subject deeply, and this is something you can do, not necessarily by examining the bible but rather many other sources of information available.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-03-26 at 22:08:34:

Everyone has some bias, and no matter how hard we try to be objective and fair there will always be some subjectivity. I admit I am biased against Christianity, but this is mainly because the arguments supporting it are so weak. As I keep saying: I'll change my mind when I see the evidence.

I've discussed ideas of proof elsewhere. I agree that we can never prove anything 100% except in the areas of maths and logic. But we can have strong evidence for a theory and accept that theory as true unless contrary evidence appears.

Genesis could easily be supported by "external" evidence. We could date the origin of the things described in Genesis and see they agree with the order in the Bible. We could calculate the date of creation and check that against the physical evidence. And there are many other checks which could be done. The problem is, when we do this we find they disprove Genesis. That's why I am almost certain it is untrue.

Instead of making vague comments about unspecified comments, why not point out where I'm wrong, so I can check my facts. Thanks.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-28 at 09:18:50:

To be specific: The events described in Genesis are not physical events - they are 'spiritual'. If you had been present all that time ago your physical eyes would have seen darkness and void I expect. The contemporary materialistic mind frames everything in the material hence the current interpretation problems from the camps of Christians, Agnostics and Atheists alike.

The other point is, the order in which entities are spiritually created in their prototype or 'blueprint' form does not necessarily correlate with their physical realization. Of course this presents a problem for the individual who does 'not believe' in the spirit. However, 'I do not believe in the spirit' is an illogical statement as it is based on the absence of knowledge, not the presence of knowledge. A logical statement would be 'I do not know of the spirit'. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence as the saying goes.

Strange as it may seem, of the physical and the spiritual, the physical is the greater illusion of the two if you approach the situation as the physical having descended from the spiritual, the spiritual being the higher state of reality and consciousness.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-03-28 at 10:02:34:

So now we get down to the real core of the argument. I have a few problems with your points...

1. The description in Genesis doesn't sound very spiritual. Its talking about light, and animals, and plants, and water and solid surfaces, etc. It seems to me these are, at the very least, physical manifestations of the spiritual process, and therefore could be examined physically.

2. How do we know that a spiritual realm even exists? If its completely independent from the physical world then effectively it doesn't exist, because it never interacts with our world. If it does interact with the physical world we can use standard physical techniques to examine it, yet we so no evidence it exists.

3. Even assuming you can get past the two problems above, how do you test the spiritual world. There are hundreds of different spiritual beliefs, all with contradictory ideas. How do we figure out which one is true, and does true have any real meaning from a spiritual perspective?

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-28 at 19:29:45:

1. Yes, it does sound like that. Hence all the Christians who refute evolution theory (evolution is basically sound but misses a few things). I understand your irritation with Christians, however Jews and Muslims are actually just as bad in defending their doctrine, absurd or not. You will have to did deeper than just the Bible to find information to supporting the non physicality of Genesis. Try some other sources, for instance Theosophy or the Hindu religion which is one of the most ancient and profound (and pre-Christian).

2. The spiritual world permeates the physical. It does take a certain talent to 'feel' that this is so however. Without spiritual eyes and ears you cannot see or hear the spiritual world. The key to the times we are living in is that slowly but surely spiritual perception is reawakening. Everyone, as a matter of course will develop the ability to see into the spiritual world. If the spiritual world were to disappear the physical would cease to exist alongside it. The assertion that the spiritual world does not interact with the physical betrays a lack of perception (which admittedly everyone suffers to some degree). How closely do you pay attention to your environment? Try meditating on a beautiful sunset.

3. Without the appropriate instruments you cannot test the physical world, the same applies to the spiritual world. The material world is material orientated and hasn't yet concentrated on material tools. It will take time to develop the tools necessary to more obviously reveal the spiritual. Strip away the artificial construct that physics places on the physical world and then examine for example, the bubble or energy 'field' between two magnets. Or heat, or light. These are all projections of the spiritual world into the physical, much like a shadow is to the an object in the physical world.

Religions don't all contradict one another. They have many elements in common, particularly if you remove the later bumblings people have more recently introduced. The Gods of the Greeks/Romans/Egyptians etc are actually different names for the same entities. 'Ra' and Ahura Mazda, Apollo are also known as Christ... This is not to say all religions are equally valuable or appropriate.

I'd have to write hundreds of pages to begin to accurately convey to you what I think on these matters. Keep thinking!

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Comment by OJB on 2007-03-28 at 19:52:28:

Yeah, I know that other religions are just as annoying as Christianity. I do pick on Christianity a lot, but my criticism also applies to other religions. I'm afraid the rest of your post is a load of unsupported superstition. Do you have any evidence to support belief in a spiritual world?

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-29 at 09:19:15:

Yes, well. Keep in mind I've had this discussion before, several times. And in case you think I am an uneducated, a layman if you will, I should point out I have a 1st class honors and PhD in Physics. Understand I don't wish to 'prove' anything to you. I simply encourage you look into the subject carefully and with as little bias as possible.

Do I internally know the truth of spirits existence? Yes, through personal experience which cannot be related in a public forum. Can I manifest that as external proof for your edification? No. Thats not possible, or at least I don't have the ability to do that. If you wish to begin to discover the truth of these matters you will need to study with an open mind not colored by the material indoctrination you have been subjected to since birth. To quote Yoda, "You must unlearn what you have learned" :)

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Comment by OJB on 2007-03-29 at 11:21:47:

Yeah well there are plenty of well educated people who have bizarre beliefs. Its not common, but it certainly happens. I'm afraid that if the limit of the support for your belief is some unspecified personal experience then we might as well stop there. If I took half the personal beliefs people tell me about seriously I would be overwhelmed with contradictory nonsensical world views which would be of no value at all. Thanks for your opinion though.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-29 at 12:17:27:

Fair enough, though 'bizarre' is a point of view. The inability to see past the physical is bizarre for me. At this point in human development I'm afraid most knowledge of the spirit will be an internal personal experience, though as it becomes more common I expect external demonstrations in the physical and biological sciences will arise.

Quantum mechanics, zero point energy and genetic experiments (cloned individuals with notably difference personalities?) for example. And I understand your dilemma - it would make no sense for you to adopt others opinions. Rather, keep them in mind and test them against what you find (with deep and honest observation). Without a non-corporal component (i.e. spiritual) to existence, life it must be concluded, is fundamentally without meaning and therefore absurd.

The logical stance of an atheist (which is an illogical stance in itself) is therefore one of Nihilism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihilism). At this juncture I like to point out that if the materialist/Atheist is right regarding the nature of the universe, then this discussion never happened, or at least has no value. Why bother? Why bother preserving life, it doesn't matter. So the universe has a tenancy for self propagation and preservation... who cares? Chaos and death is equally as valid. If on the other hand I am correct, the universe likely holds more wonders and a future greater than either of us can imagine.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-03-29 at 13:08:02:

I agree that bizarre has an element of subjectivity, but there is a consensus amongst educated people which doesn't really encompass your belief system so I think the word has some relevance. (bizarre adjective: very strange or unusual, esp. so as to cause interest or amusement)

Are you really a scientist? I've only heard the use of quantum mechanics to support pseudo-science by people who are ignorant of what it is really about. I'm afraid I don't see any reason to think those areas of science make a spiritual world any more likely. Maybe it depends on your particular interpretation of the word "spiritual".

I would love to know how you justify the statement that atheism is illogical. I don't agree that atheism leads to pure nihilism (of which I am very aware but thanks for the reference anyway). While I agree that there is no objective value or meaning as a result of a god, we can still create these attributes from a more subjective perspective. There is no reason why these should have lesser value.

I agree that if there was a god and a spiritual world it would be nice. By why invent a mythology just so that we feel good? I'm more interested in the truth, no matter how challenging it might be.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-29 at 20:19:04:

Yes, I am a scientist. What makes me a little different is that I am a scientist of the physical world *and* the spiritual :) Its unusual in that academics are typically thoroughly brainwashed in conventional science and often exhibit an antipathy to anything that is unfamiliar and may challenge their intellect and established knowledge base or authority. Now, what makes QM interesting is the great deal of powerful maths involved in its formulation and the starting conclusions that drop out the other end. The result of interest is that observation (by consciousness) affects the outcome of a given experiment. The idea that mind directly influences the outcome of the universe was one of the first ideas to come out of pure maths which suggested the mind had a pivotal role in the universe. Note I say mind and not brain, the two are related but not the same thing. And there's more, quantum entanglement, action at a distance etc. Einstein called it 'spooky'.

(Strong) atheism is the belief in the non-existence of God (and spirit it seems reasonable). One cannot prove the non-existence of of God or spirit (really you can't), so belief in the non-existence of spirit or God is technically illogical. Being an atheist requires a leap of faith as illogical as the leap of faith many religious folk make. A much more sensible position is the one of the agnostic. In order to disprove the existence of God you would first require spiritual vision. Having finally attained spiritual vision you would go looking for the non-existence of God only to discover, oh crap there are many Gods, great and small and multicolored. Usually the flying spaghetti monster gets a mention at this point, but I do not believe eons of spiritual belief (and direct knowledge) by humanity and belief in God(s) (which has only recently been on the down swing) can be compared to belief in a random monster - though of course this can be entirely ruled out either. The atheist states that humanity was backward and ignorant in ancient times, but really this was not so. Yes, on the whole humanity has developed forward, but some faculties such as the intellect have been enriched at the expense of others. A necessary loss however as the intellect and ego is what is currently under development - or so one theory goes.

If the creation of the universe (creation of any kind denotes design and therefore intelligence) is random and meaningless then all that stems from it is equally meaningless in my mind. You would probably argue that somehow we, beings created in a meaningless process from meaningless origins, somehow develop meaning. I don't see this. Only an eternal and non-corporal element can bestow meaning. Scientists are completely at a loss as how to explain the moment space-time was created ('Big Bang'). They also have no answer how physical life was kick started in the green protozoic stew . These questions will be answered once we have developed to the point to include the spiritual into our science, science which encompasses all of reality as it should.

Now, you assume, as do most atheists, that religion and mythology were created by needy human minds to 'feel good', feel purpose, belonging, safety etc. Put simply, that is not the case. Yes, some people do blindly use religion as a support mechanism - but that says nothing about its validity. Like you I am only interested in truth, regardless of how difficult of challenging it might be. However, nowhere was it written that the truth has to be awful or empty. If the search for truth lead you to the conclusion that you are an eternal spiritual being, would you deny it on the grounds that it seemed to good to be true?

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Comment by OJB on 2007-03-29 at 20:50:48:

I have never seen a definition of science which encompasses the supernatural. The definitions I have seen specific limit it to the natural world. I really don't think your beliefs in the spiritual have anything to do with science. I think I have a fairly good basic understanding of QM and I can't see anything there which is relevant to spirituality.

I agree that its impossible to prove a negative. In fact, outside of maths and logic, its impossible to prove anything, isn't it. Like everyone, atheists, believe the theory they believe is the best, even if it isn't 100% certain. All atheists I know would be prepared to believe in god if the evidence existed. I don't think that is illogical. Maybe that's not being a "strong" atheist but its the attitude real atheists have.

Creation doesn't normally imply design and intelligence (creation noun: the action or process of bringing something into existence), but I avoid using that word to describe the origin of the Universe anyway. The word has all that Christian baggage attached to it, so its best to avoid it. However the use of the word does not imply a creator anyway.

The origin of the Universe and origin of life are hard questions, but there are interim theories. Also, if there was no scientific theory for them, that shouldn't mean we need a god. I presume you are familiar with the idea of "the god of the gaps"?

If you are interested in the truth you have to be very careful about how you establish that truth. After reading many of your posts I haven't figured out the mechanism you use to establish the truth and I am yet to gain any idea of what you really believe: do you really believe in the literal truth of Creation?

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-29 at 21:19:28:

There is nothing 'supernatural' about the spirit. Its only as supernatural as electromagnetism was in the 12th century. Science continually progresses. The spirit is part of reality and I'm confident it will be incorporated into science in time in a logical and consistent way. It will then be used in the advanced 'technology' of the future and people will regard humanity from our era perhaps as many now regard humanity from the time of the dark ages.

Do I believe in the literal truth of creation? No, I've previously stated I do not. Genesis is completely misunderstood by the majority. Nor am I a blind religious devotee clinging to ideas they have yet to prove to themselves. I'm interested in truth regardless of where it takes me. And I mean absolute truth, something which can only exist in a universe of purpose and meaning. God of the gaps? Yes I have, but again, belief in God(s) does not imply a gap exists. Forget about the big bang and how that was orchestrated? What magnificent intelligence designed that intricate work of art, the atom?

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Comment by OJB on 2007-03-29 at 22:32:51:

I think this discussion is now a waste of time. I am only prepared to believe in things which are supported by scientific evidence. You seem to be prepared to believe in things for other reasons, such as personal experience which we know is unreliable.

What your rather undefined belief in spirit has to do with Biblical stories, such as Creation, I do not know, but unless you can tell me specifically what this spirit you believe in actually is and what evidence for it you have, there is little point in taking this any further.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-01 at 21:35:27:

As you wish. I would also suggest 'near death experience' titles as an interesting insight. For instance, Howard Storm's 'My decent into death' which can be had 2nd hand via Amazon from one of their partners. There are others also. I am aware of the medical theories which attempt of to explain these peoples experiences, but they don't do enough and often leave doctors stumped. If you are a free thinker, as you seem to imply, then perhaps you will take a look.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-02 at 10:18:41:

Again this gets back to what standards of proof we are prepared to accept. Scientific study of NDE and out of body experiences indicates there is nothing unusual there. Again you take personal experience seriously when we know that people are atrociously poor reporters of factual events. I don't totally discount personal experiences, such as Storm's, but unless I place the standard of proof higher I will be obliged to believe hundreds of contradictory things: ghosts, bigfoot, UFOs, Loch Ness monster, fairies, etc, the list goes on.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-03 at 19:13:36:

Not so, I have read the subject of NDE in depth - have you? There are many compelling reports current science cannot explain. At any rate, I feel Storm's book is a valuable read for everyone. No one is required to believe the contents, merely observe the wonderful message of love he is trying to impart. As for proof, I do not think you will find proof of God or the spirit within the narrow boundaries of proof you have set for yourself. Would you believe it if you saw it with your own eyes? If so, then either you will have to wait for a cross roads in your life, or like Storm and ultimately the rest of us, death itself.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-03 at 19:23:23:

You may have studied NDE in depth (and I admit I haven't) but your standard of evidence is so poor that I can't take your beliefs seriously unless you show me some evidence. I've read excerpts form the book, and its practically worthless - just more personal experience. Story of love... whatever. Do you have *any* scientific evidence at all supporting your beliefs? If not, why not. We have found science to be an excellent tool to discover the truth. Why doesn't it work for these spiritual beliefs you have?

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-03 at 22:41:01:

Science is an excellent tool for discovering truth, but like any tool its ability is limited by those who wield it. Humanity does not yet have the ability to wield science in a manner which which would uncover proof in a form acceptable to you. This shouldn't surprise you - natural science has progressed greatly over even the last one hundred years and would seem perhaps boundless in its potential. Try and understand, the science of today which you seem to pin all your requirements of proof to will be laughable compared to the science of the year 2200, 2400 - and so on. NDE - Why not read Storm's book, simply to see what effect it has on you - what do you have to loose? Forget about proof for a moment. It is well written and interesting, regardless of your belief system.

NDE do offer compelling evidence for spirit and an afterlife. I'm not about to collate all the cases for you. To briefly sum up some events however, people have returned from these experiences with unique knowledge of events, future and past which cannot be explained by *current* science. They may know minute details of events which occurred while 'dead'. Examples are exacting descriptions of the surgical processes and instruments they may have been subjected to. Often intimate knowledge of discussions and *thoughts* of individuals can be recollected. No, there is no way this information could have been gathered by a conscious patient, let alone one who was dead for some minutes. Events are observed elsewhere in time and space. Little details, an example would be one woman reportedly left her body during surgery and found herself drifting upwards through the various floors of a hospital. When 'dead' you can apparently see objects inside and out and in exquisite detail, the focusing, resolution and diffraction limitations of the physical eyes no longer an issue. She saw a red shoe (sneaker) lodged in a inaccessible upper floor gutter in a position not visible from any window unless you were to lean out of it. The shoe was later found. Was she lying, was it a hoax? You decide, but by dying she showed real dedication to the prank. People return to life often completely changed (for the better) by their experience and often report seeing divine beings of scarcely imaginable beauty and radiance. Often people identify the being as Christ, other times they only know it is a being of great love and power. I am able to confirm this through my own ('unprovable') experience and those close to me. There is no hell, only what demons you take and allow with you. If you allow it, you will receive more love than you can currently comprehend. Irrelevant I hear you say? If you remember only one thing from this discussion, remember that.

Science *postulates* why these experiences occur in some dying people (I'm sure you know of the various postulates related to the dying brain), but it does not have any sound working theories on the matter. Its conjecture. You yourself are a (somewhat) divine and eternal being. The fact you do not remember at this juncture would be another discussion and I doubt you would want it in this 'proof' thread. Proof in terms agreeable to you is unlikely to be forthcoming, and if you were to limit this thread by that standard alone then there would be little content in this discussion.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-04 at 10:37:14:

I'm not interested in the book because I haven't got the time. The excerpt I read was nonsensical. Saying that you believe something because you think some future unspecified science will support it is not a logical argument. I could use that to support any superstitious belief. I would rather be too conservative and not accidentally believe untrue things, than take your approach.

Ah yes, the famous red shoe story. That story has been debunked. I will find the reference for you when I can. Experiments involving out of body experiences generally come up negative. Why are these beliefs not supported when they are investigated thoroughly?

The scientific hypotheses covering these phenomena are supported by some evidence. Its possible to demonstrate the same experiences using drugs and after brain damage, for example. They seem like a far more believable interim explanation than postulating the existence of a spirit world. Remember Occam's Razor!

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-04 at 13:06:18:

Yes, the red shoe story. Its well known event which is one reason I listed it. Perhaps it was a hoax as I mentioned, I don't know - the point is that it is one example of the kind of event you might begin to consider as evidence - provided it was not debunked (link please?). As for debunking that particular story, the only compelling way would be to show the people involved don't exist or obtain admissions that they lied or exaggerated. Yes, certain initial aspects of NDE could be attributed to the brain combined with drugs, high acceleration, oxygen deprivation etc (lights, tunnels and so on manifest). However coherent, consistent and highly specific observations experienced during the NDE cannot be directly attributed to the brain, or a least not without a good deal of stretch or far flung postulates in my opinion.

Occam's Razor as you say. As for inventing the spirit world to explain this or that, if you examine human history over many thousands of years you find persistent reference to spirit in every culture throughout time. Often creation myths, always allegorical in nature, show commonalities. Overlap can be found in Gods of various civilizations . The subject is huge. I feel you are limiting yourself not by logic but by your own bias and therefore what you shut out. Usually events in early life leave you susceptible to a bias of some sort. Finally, you may recognize that because you find something incomprehensible does not make it any more or less likely to be true.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-04 at 19:09:28:

Again we get back to the standard of evidence each of us is prepared to accept. I would rather take the conservative route and maybe miss out on early discoveries of certain phenomena if it will also prevent me from falsely accepting many untrue things. There's a link regarding explanations of NDEs here.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-05 at 20:53:07:

Fair enough. I'd be horrified if you simply believed what I had to say. If we assume I'm on the right track with several of my statements you still have no immediate way of telling me apart from a million other people and their opinions. Everyone must discover the key truths for themselves of course, and as they do, disagreement will wane and all opinion will converge to reflect the truth. I'm willing to entertain a 'lower standard' of proof regarding NDE and so on as I know from personal experience (OBE) that certain elements reported are true (like I know I exist) - though of course I have no way of communicating this to you.

As we have agreed, not all truths are necessarily capable of being proved to an arbitrary standard satisfactory to all. The only thing I'm really hoping for as a result of this discussion is that you will be able to keep an open mind towards the subjects discussed. Why, well there are many reasons aside from the fact truth is important, and (I'll just state this) - you will be in a much better position to understand what the heck is going on after we die.

Even if the knowledge is filed away as a theoretical possibility you can use it if necessary - though most people are just fine (much pre-earthly memory and knowledge floods back) unless they are truly completely self centered materialist who never had a thought regarding the possibility of the non material or another person. Like Storm, it can be confusing at first. I strongly suspect we reincarnate, (as humans, not animals, thats transmigration and is incorrect). If on the other hand we cease to exist at brain death, I doubt either of us will care very much either way.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-05 at 21:45:51:

Oh, and I read most of the (long) link you provided - have you? Its actually not bad, though I detect an underlying bias from the author. Also, I have ready answers to many of the authors objections which stem from misunderstanding mostly. To be fair though, NDE researchers and adherents can be just as stubborn as their materialist counterparts in which case neither part is thinking clearly and that hardly helps with the exchange of opinion. The article is still valuable as it makes many observations and documents much, irrespective of the conclusions drawn.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-05 at 22:12:35:

So it really gets back to a personal experience you have had. I don't know the details of your particular experience so I can't specifically comment, but I will say that we know in general that it isn't a reliable way to establish the truth.

As I have already said, I will seriously consider anything if there is reasonable supporting evidence. I'm afraid that this discussion hasn't really made me any more likely to believe this sort of thing.

OK, so you looked at the "red shoes" NDE site I gave you. Do you admit there is a reasonable alternative explanation to a spiritual interpretation? I agree that it does have a skeptical bias. That's why its important to read both sides of the debate.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-09 at 10:28:47:

I agree that science can reasonably explain the initial observations of NDE, such as the tunnel and lights and some sounds. However, there are no sound scientific theories that explain the particular details of the NDE as it progresses further. Instead of proving a sound theory, the NDE link you provided tries to make the NDE look unlikely through making objections to observations made in NDE. Providing a working theory and attempting to disprove or illustrate perceived logical errors in someone else's observations are entirely different things.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-09 at 11:55:00:

There's no need for a theory because nothing happened. The allegedly supernatural aspects of that case can be explained without resorting to complex theories. She just knew about the details because she had seen them before.

Psychological tests have shown this is a common phenomenon. Sometimes the subject doesn't even know she's seen the items. Then there is the biased reporting of the people who want to believe the paranormal explanation. Its not surprising that a perfectly mundane event is exaggerated out of all proportion.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-09 at 13:48:25:

You are talking about the single 'Red shoe' incidentI presume? I'm am referring to plethora of experiences reported by NDE subjects as a whole. There are no sound scientific theories which explain the NDE comfortably, without conjecture. Only initial observations of tunnels and lights and some sounds could plausibly be explained with science. The remainder of the experience is not comfortably explained - only conjecture and various musing are made. That should be the point, and not one particular incident which may or may not be true. As you know, science likes to deal in ensembles and averages.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-09 at 14:58:40:

You specifically mentioned that particular example. I showed there is good reason to believe there's nothing paranormal there. When controlled experiments are done we find nothing unusual. When we thoroughly investigate an event we find there are alternative explanations. Sometimes there isn't enough evidence to conclude anything. Overall, the evidence just isn't good enough. Do you have any other examples worth looking at?

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-10 at 10:53:20:

You need more? ;) Ok, well try another common one, Pam Reynolds NDE. If you google 'Pam Reynolds near death' you will find many links such as her personal one below. Apparently Pam underwent a surgical procedure to repair an aneurysm. She was it a state of near brain death as required by the procedure apparently.

http://www.geocities.com/pamreynoldsus/

I would also mention, when it comes to debunking something such as the Red Shoe NDE, more is required than one persons word against another. For all I know the skeptics could be misleading people. I would need to see a proper report with photos and official statements before I could except their version of events over anyone else's.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-10 at 21:44:35:

The Pam Reynolds story is also rather weak, because there are reasonable alternative explanations. Skeptics have shown that the timing is very debatable, which would remove the need to accept an NDE. Again, Occam's Razor must be used.

I totally agree that skeptics' opinions should be treated with caution, just like believers' opinions should be. Now maybe you can see why I can't accept the weak evidence the cases you have shown me are based on?

There have been real experiments testing OBEs. No properly designed experiment has shown the phenomenon exists. When we accept weak evidence and personal experiment it looks like it exists. When we use thorough, careful testing it disappears. Why is that, do you think?

There's a link here.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-13 at 19:12:19:

The link you provided shows overwhelming bias which renders the author incapable of objective observation. His mind is clearly polarized and as a result makes blanket statements which reflect as much;

"After all, both the awareness and the out of body experience are conscious experiences, and can only occur in a conscious brain."

"One thing is certain - she could have had no conscious experience during the period of hypothermic cardiac arrest."

"Not only are they conscious during such experiences, but the functioning of their conscious brains is affected by the disorders causing them to undergo near death experiences and out of body experiences. This is proven by the very fact they cannot arouse their bodies to speak or to move during their near death experiences and out of body experiences, even though some of them do try (see chapters 10,11,12 in reference"

I don't know what he means by this? IF one does leave the body, then it is plausible that one could not move the body when uncoupled from it...

He says things like "together with a drug-induced socio-culturally modified experience in which a woman who expected to die saw deceased family members acting as her guides in a life after death" :

True, often family members are reported by NDE subjects. But a myriad of questions arise. Relatives are often seen by people who did not expect to 'die'. Relatives are often seen in the peak of health and 'physical' perfection - even when the NDE subject was not apparently aware of their youthful appearance. And whats with the divine beings that keep cropping up - as seen by atheists as well? Wishful thinking of the brain? Perhaps, but hardly a working theory.

He doesn't address the tricky questions. How did Pam seem to know the detailed appearance of the opening saw used? Perhaps she was not 'dead' in in the NDE at this point, having not yet undergone hyperthermic cardiac arrest, but one does not need to be 'dead' in order to have an OBE. Hearing the saw is not enough. He assumes, very unscientific, that the NDE must have occurred while she was 'concious'. He might also say, 'well obviously she saw it before hand'. Can he prove that? Usually doctors hide tools from patients.

If you want more NDE information, look at the cases of people blind from birth who could reportly see and recall events during their NDE. The author discussed above does make reference to some of these, and its clear even he is a little bemused, but is quite happy to sweep the whole phenomena under the carpet as he already the NDE is false. He somehow reasons that some individuals could see shades of light or colour during early life and therefore the detailed observations during the NDE are explained away. That seems like a stretch to me.

As an example of NDE subjects blind from birth, try googling 'Vicki Umipeg'. "Vicki was born blind, her optic nerve having been completely destroyed at birth because of an excess of oxygen she received in the incubator." An interesting case.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-14 at 10:55:46:

We all have our biases. The links you provide have overwhelming bias in favour of the paranormal. The key thing is to get some balance. There are plenty of conventional explanations which can't be proved but the fact that there is a conventional explanation makes it unnecessary to accept one which goes against all the established laws of science.

Really the only way to test the phenomenon is to set up a controlled experiment. This has been done and people were not able to identify objects beyond their normal range of vision but which would be visible if they were "out of body". Like all paranormal phenomena, the tighter the experiment, the less the effect is observed. My explanation for that is that the effect doesn't really exist. What's yours?

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-16 at 19:33:43:

Are people like Howard Storm biased by their experience? Well perhaps, but I'm more likely to cut someone a little slack if their bias originates in what they perceive to have been a very real experience - particularly if they were a strong Atheist of the worst kind such as Howard. Bias derived from a *lack* of experience, a lack of having observed anything on the other hand, doesn't garner so much favor with me. Truly if you have no knowlege you must honestly consider yourself agnostic. Its pure logic.

OBE and NDE seem to be largely unintended experiences, often as the result of an undesirable situation which cannot be readily replicated in a laboratory. If you try and run a controlled experiment somehow, your going to need people who are willing to be thrown from a cliff or step in front of a car. And not all people are as equally likely to have a NDE or OBE, maybe 10% - how would you select your test group? No wonder no definitive studies have been produced yet - the phenomenon simply does not lend itself to repeatable lab trials, not to mention the ethics committee. The reason science conducts experiments in the field is that not all conditions can be replicated in the lab.

I fully recognize thats not much use to you which is why I cited a few interesting cases. And there are more than a few. You can find hundreds. Surely this would give an inquisitive and balanced mind time for pause and thought? Check out some of the NDE reported by people blind from birth. There is a 'random' Google link reporting Vicky Umberg's experience here.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-18 at 10:43:22:

I don't completely discount these personal accounts of NDEs. I'm sure NDEs happen, but there is just no compelling evidence to think there is anything unnatural happening. If I accepted this level of evidence (personal accounts where the person themselves is convinced the event happened) I would have to accept the reality of too many highly doubtful phenomena, many of which are mutually exclusive, for example: UFOs, astrology, ghosts, fairies, Nostradamus, many different religions. If I start believing all that stuff I might as well just surrender to superstition right now.

The people who are involved with NDE research are convinced the subjects are having an NDE and show the signs of NDEs, yet they cannot really see anything form the perspective outside their body. This suggests to me its false. It is possible that when experiments are done the effect doesn't show, but you would have to excuse me if I'm a bit skeptical of that explanation!

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-20 at 14:49:37:

Yes, I agree. It would be absurd for you to adopt my view or anyone else's. You must decide for yourself which of those things you mention, among others, are true. I feel the problem lies in your approach to deciphering the truth. Your seemingly heavy dependence and deep trust in current science and scientific method are a mistake in my opinion and mark you as a product of our times. Perhaps your bias feeds your trust of current science which in turn reinforces your bias. I feel I know something of the shortcomings of current science given it has been my field for a considerable time now.

Most people I know who have a discernible bias one way or another have a past which suggests why. People actively angry with their idea of what God is, usually have experienced a calamity of some description. Unknowingly they attribute the wrongs in the world to 'God'. 'Why would God allow or cause such suffering' they ask. They could equally ask why they cannot find any four sided triangles : Not all questions make sense.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-20 at 19:25:18:

It would only be absurd to accept your views because to me your views seem absurd. If you could support your views better it would be perfectly OK for me to consider accepting them. Can you answer my question regarding why its OK to use less rigorous methods to support NDEs but you would (presumably) reject using the same logic to support UFOs or astrology?

There's more to it than me just accepting the methods of science. I use the methods which are likely to produce the most accurate results. These generally coincide with scientific methods. If you can think of better ways to establish the truth than the logic and empiricism of science I would be interested to hear them.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-24 at 19:30:18:

My views may seem odd, though they are not as uncommon as you seem to imply. Your views are entirely familiar to me. Its also how all of the west is currently educated after all.

We should be clear on what the other person is saying. I'm saying NDE are a real phenomenon - but they are inherently difficult to study. I've stated that current logical methods are limited by limited minds and therefore NDE cannot currently be fully uncovered through abstract reasoning alone (though perhaps in principle they could). I'm not saying you should accept a lower standard of logic - I've stated you shouldn't. Rather you should open your mind and examine the possibilities carefully. Observe your surrounds carefully. You think your aware, awake. But really, how aware and awake are you?

Most things in myth and tale have some sort of basis, though like Chinese whispers the meaning has long since become lost or distorted. Astrology? At one time it had meaning or sorts, for it was a spiritual inspired knowledge of the planets relationship to mankind. Today its largely mumbo jumbo as people no longer possess the knowledge or the art.

What's better than 'logic' or 'empiricism' of (current incomplete) science? Logic and empiricism of science 50 years from now. At the turn of the 20th century many scientists concluded that all there was to be known about the nature of the Universe had, in essential terms, be discovered and all that was needed was refining of the 'classical' theory. Then disaster! The photoelectric effect among other phenomena revealed that conceptions regarding the nature of the universe would need to be radically modified or thrown out completely. That was the beginning of quantum physics. How long do you think it will be until it is discovered that quantum physics is in need of revision or replacement - or are you like those scientists of the early 1900s, confident that you know roughly all there is to know about the nature of the Universe and its just a matter of padding it out now? I'm saying current reason and logic is incomplete (a given) and therefore current conclusions are incomplete.

The entire Universe is composed of energy. Current science realizes this Energy is non corporeal, cannot be created or destroyed and is seemingly eternal. Sounding familiar? It should, the deeper science delves and the more it advances, the closer it comes to realizing we are all made of the same 'stuff', and that stuff is, for want of a better description - 'spirit', 'intelligence', 'mind', 'being'.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-24 at 22:49:22:

So, astrology was "a spiritual inspired knowledge of the planets relationship to mankind." What total nonsense. Please don't make statements like that without any way to support them. What, exactly is the planets relationship to man? Is there any nonsensical pseudo-science you don't believe in? This is a classic example of why you need to be more skeptical!

I'm not going to disagree that we should be looking for new ways to describe the Universe, whether that involves a replacement for quantum theory or whatever else. My point is that unless we use rigorous standards to look for new theories we will only be lead down false paths.

Quantum mechanics replaced classical physics but it was discovered through application of scientific principles, not by reducing the standard of proof. It was very foolish for certain scientists of about 100 years ago to say that we knew all the basics of science - we clearly didn't - but that has no relevance to the suitability of the scientific method.

Can you name a single instance where a scientific theory has been replaced by a pseudo-scientific or paranormal or spiritual one? That's right, it doesn't work that way. Superstition is replaced by logic, not the other way around. We don't want to reverse the progress of science now, do we?

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-25 at 15:09:16:

"What total nonsense"? How would you back that statement up? Have you studied the ancient history and material available to us which indicates modern (and faulty) astrology is based on a much earlier interest in the role the planets (this includes the sun and and our moon)? And yes, whether you think its drug induced or not, various civilizations long gone (Greek, Egyptian and Roman empires to name a few) considered the relationship of 'the spheres' to humanity to be of profound significance. It effected health, wealth and crops among a few things as far as they were concerned. These facts are not in question. The only question is, was there a spiritual component to their understanding, or were they simply backward and simple? My research suggests a spiritual component which has since been lost and become decadent. The decadent remainder of this planetary knowledge is todays astrology which I would myself call superstition given that it is based on a lack of knowledge.

Current science is what is leading us to a new understanding of ancient knowledge, of truth but in a much more conscious way that the earlier unconscious spirituality of the time. You need to go back as far as ancient India to discover an intact form of the old spirituality. Ever since then, even since the time of the Romans it has been on the decline into decadence. This lead to dark ages in knowledge and we saw the rise of superstition and corrupt forces which took advantage of it. These dark ages are destined to be replaced by the light filled conscious science of our own age - but our current science is still very young by most standards and must be handled like an adolescent at times.

Yes we must use rigorous standards. I apply skeptical and critical thinking to all things, and that means I do not spare current and materialist dogma. Its not wrong per se, only limited - but thats as good as a lie in many ways when it enables people to deny other truths through interpreting reality according to the small subset of existence they are familiar with. And no, I don't subscribe to all paranormal foolishness. Instead I examine it carefully and try to discover its basis, its origin, if one exists at all.

UFOs? Well most scientists myself included will tell you the probability of extraterrestrial life is likely very high - even if it is only simple life. This is simply probability based on the billions of observable galaxies compounded by the 100 billion stars an average spiral may contain, further compounded by the observed extra solar planetary and proto-planetary systems around potentially viable stars. Would beings have evolved to the point where they would build craft and come (if they could be bothered or even find us) to our corner of the cosmos? That's less well defined.

Yes, it was very foolish for certain scientists of 100 years ago to assert we knew all that there is to know of the basis of science. The point is, this kind of foolishness lives on today in many fixed mindsets of many people! Of course people then and today don't realize their foolishness - if they did it would be simple to correct if they could honestly examine themselves.

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-25 at 20:59:31:

Again, I've got to say that this is a waste of time. You continually support your pseudo-scientific beliefs using "evidence" such as: ancient civilisations thought it was true, there was a spiritual component to this belief, many people have personal experiences of this. This just isn't good enough for me.

You can say that by extending the type of evidence science accepts we could extend the type of things science could accept as real, but that would likely lead to belief in false phenomena. It might take longer to examine paranormal phenomena using conventional science, but it shouldn't be impossible. After many years of examining ESP, astrology, prayer, NDEs, etc we are no close to proving they exist than when we started. This indicates to me that they just don't exist.

We've been here before - this discussion is still pointless. You are prepared to accept a lesser standard of evidence to support fringe beliefs. I'm not. You risk believing things which are false, I risk delaying accepting new phenomena until they are better supported. I prefer taking a more conservative approach.

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Comment by Anonymous on 2007-04-26 at 09:42:20:

A waste of time? Perhaps, but rarely is free exchange of ideas a waste. I think you continually misunderstand what I am saying. You continually state that I am willing to accept a lower standard of proof - this is not the case! The "evidence" I provide is not hard scientific evidence, its just another something in a near infinite list of examples meant to make you think. My thinking is as critical as yours, believe it or not. I don't run the risk of accepting any given NDE or other phenomena as true as I don't automatically accept it. The point is - *I simply know such things are possible and do occur*. Therefore science will discover them in due course - it must as that is the task of science. Where is the difference between us then? The most obvious is that I have direct spiritual experience which is of infinite value to me (but of near zero value to you).

We both know, and presumingly are willing to accept that our physical selves exist through experience of that 'self' in the 'real world'. As far as science is concerned, that could be considered a tenuous conclusion. I think therefore I am? In the same way I know my 'spirit self' exists - through experience. You don't know this - but you will in time as will everyone. There is only one side of the fence you can come down on once you know and are no longer guessing. Oh course you must remain skeptical and conservative - but a skeptic with a balanced and measured approach! I don't think you are balanced - rather you are biased based on a lack of knowledge - truly thats not a conservative approach, its a blinkered one. Perhaps I am biased as well, but in my defense, its based in experience.

I should say that I read through I few of your other pages and generally I agree with much of what you say. I too am an amateur astronomer. When I look at the sky I see profound wisdom and wonder, what do you see? Still as you say, perhaps we should draw this discussion to a close now. Perhaps I'll hit you up on one of you other threads..? :)

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Comment by OJB on 2007-04-26 at 10:06:05:

I think its a waste of time because we keep getting back to the same point which neither of us seems to be able to move past. I demand objective, physical evidence. You accept personal experience and belief. And I think that, because you accept a wider range of evidence than me, you are accepting a lower standard, but you obviously disagree.

You look at the sky and see profound wisdom and wonder. What does that mean? We all feel wonder when we contemplate the Universe, but I don't know where this wisdom idea comes from.

I think it would be good if you continued this discussion in a more appropriate area. This page was supposed to be about religious stories, and does seem to have strayed from the topic!

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