Home » Intelligent Design » Tozer Got It

Tozer Got It

What do I mean by reality? I mean that which has existence apart from any idea any mind may have of it, and which would exist if there were no mind anywhere to entertain a thought of it. That which is real has being in itself. It does not depend upon the observer for its validity.
I am aware that there are those who love to poke fun at the plain man’s idea of reality. They are the idealists who spin endless proofs that nothing is real outside of the mind. They are the relativists who like to show that there are no fixed points in the universe from which we can measure anything. They smile down upon us from their lofty intellectual peaks and settle us to their own satisfaction by fastening upon us the reproachful term “absolutist.” The Christian is not put out of countenance by this show of contempt. He can smile right back at them, for he knows that there is only One who is Absolute, that is God. But he knows also that the Absolute One has made this world for man’s use, and while there is nothing fixed or real in the last meaning of the words (the meaning as applied to God), for every purpose of human life we are permitted to act as if there were. And every man does act thus except the mentally sick. These unfortunates also have trouble with reality, but they are consistent; they insist upon living in accordance with their ideas of things. They are honest, and it is their very honesty which constitutes them a social problem.
The idealists and relativists are not mentally sick. They prove their soundness by living their lives according to the very notions of reality which they in theory repudiate and by counting upon the very fixed points which they prove are not there. They could earn a lot more respect for their notions if they were willing to live by them; but this they are careful not to do. Their ideas are brain-deep, not life-deep. Wherever life touches them they repudiate their theories and live like other men.
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

120 Responses to Tozer Got It

  1. The idealists and relativists are not mentally sick. They prove their soundness by living their lives according to the very notions of reality which they in theory repudiate and by counting upon the very fixed points which they prove are not there. They could earn a lot more respect for their notions if they were willing to live by them; but this they are careful not to do. Their ideas are brain-deep, not life-deep. Wherever life touches them they repudiate their theories and live like other men.

    I’m a big fan of Greg Koukl, whom I consider to be one of the great Christian apologists of our time. A male student at a university once called up Greg’s talk-radio show and asked how he should counter his female professor’s claims about moral relativism.

    Greg advised (obviously, tongue firmly implanted in cheek) that the student should steal the teacher’s stereo.

    Case closed.

  2. 2
    CannuckianYankee

    I like GK Chesterton’s take on relativism’s lack of interest in Truth (capital T) in “Heretics:”

    “Mr. Bernard Shaw has put the view in a perfect epigram: ‘The golden rule is that there is no golden rule.’ We are more and more to discuss details in art, politics, literature. A man’s opinion on tramcars matters; his opinion on Botticelli matters; his opinion on all things does not matter. He may turn over and explore a million objects, but he must not find that strange object, the universe; for if he does he will have a religion, and be lost. Everything matters–except everything.

    Examples are scarcely needed of this total levity on the subject of cosmic philosophy. Examples are scarcely needed to show that, whatever else we think of as affecting practical affairs, we do not think it matters whether a man is a pessimist or an optimist, a Cartesian or a Hegelian, a materialist or a spiritualist. Le me, however, take a random instance. At any innocent tea-table we may easily hear a man say, ‘Life is not worth living.’ We regard it as we regard the statement that it is a fine day; nobody thinks that it can possibly have any serious effect on the man or on the world. And yet if that utterance were really believed, the world would stand on its head. Murderers would be given medals for saving men from life; firemen would be denounced for keeping men from death; poisons would be used as medicines; doctors would be called in when people were well; the Royal Humane Society would be rooted out like a horde of assassins. Yet we never speculate as to whether the conversational pessimist will strengthen or disorganize society; for we are convinced that theories do not matter.

    This was certainly not the idea of those who introduced our freedom. When the old Liberals removed the gags from all the heresies, their idea was that religious and philosophical discoveries might thus be made. Their view was that cosmic truth was so important that every one ought to bear independent testimony. The modern idea is that cosmic truth is so unimportant that it cannot matter what any one says. The former freed inquiry as men loose a noble hound; the latter frees inquiry as men fling back in the sea a fish unfit for eating. Never has there been so little discussion about the nature of men as now, when, for the first time, any one can discuss it. The old restriction meant that only the orthodox were allowed to discuss religion. Modern liberty means that nobody is allowed to discuss it. Good taste, the last and vilest of human superstitions, has succeeded in silencing us where all the rest have failed. Sixty years ago it was bad taste to be an avowed atheist. Then came the Bradlaughites, the last religious men, the last men who cared about God; but they could not alter it. it is still bad taste to be an avowed atheist. But their agony has achieved just this–that now it is equally bad tasted to be an avowed Christian. Emancipation has only locked the saint in the same tower of silence as the heresiarch. Then we talk about Lord Anglesey and the weather, and call it the complete liberty of all the creeds.”

    A little dated, I know, but he does have a particular insight into what is still apparent today – except for the issue of it being in bad taste to be an avowed atheist.

  3. A. W. Tozer:

    “What do I mean by reality? I mean that which has existence apart from any idea any mind may have of it, and which would exist if there were no mind anywhere to entertain a thought of it.”

    On that definition, is anything real except God? Just asking.

  4. “What do I mean by reality? I mean that which has existence apart from any idea any mind may have of it, and which would exist if there were no mind anywhere to entertain a thought of it. That which is real has being in itself. It does not depend upon the observer for its validity.”

    In the light of quantum physics, what precisely is there that “does not depend on the observer for its validity”? In his article in The Nature of Nature, “A Quantum-Theoretic Argument against Naturalism”, Bruce Gordon argues from the findings of Relativity and Quantum Entanglement that “One of the…achievements of quantum theory …is the accurate prediction of phenomena…that have NO physical explanation.” [emphasis added] He concludes,

    “I contend that there is one quite reasonable way to ground this ontology and obviate any puzzlement: metaphysical objectivity and epistemic intersubjectivity are maintained in the context of an occasionalistic theistic metaphysics that looks a lot like the immaterialism defended by George Berkeley and Jonathan Edwards and in which the only true causation is agent causation. The difference in the present case is that this explanatory hypothesis is grounded by ontological deduction from fundamental physical theory and experiment, rather than by epistemological analysis (Berkeley) or philosophico-theological argument (Edwards).” (In case you don’t remember, Berkeley was a thorough idealist–matter does not exist, only mind.)

    In their book, Biocentrism, Robert Lanza and Bob Berman argue, again from the findings of modern science including but not limited to quantum physics, that it is precisely our observation that brings “reality” into existence.

    And of course, there is Berkeley himself, one of the giants of British empiricism, who argues quite convincingly, IMO, that matter does not exist and that we live in a Universe of virtual reality, maintained and orchestrated by God (although of course he doesn’t use the term “virtual reality”, since it had not yet been coined when he was alive).

  5. 5

    “The idealists and relativists are not mentally sick. They prove their soundness by living their lives according to the very notions of reality which they in theory repudiate and by counting upon the very fixed points which they prove are not there. They could earn a lot more respect for their notions if they were willing to live by them; but this they are careful not to do.”

    An airline pilot straps herself into the cockpit of a flight simulator and immerses herself in a virtual world that she knows is not real. Yet during the time she is in the simulator she acts as though it is. She agrees to do this because she knows that there is a purpose for her doing so, a purpose that would be thwarted should she, say, fly her virtual aircraft into a mountain.

    I believe that each of us does essentially the same thing when we agree to be born again into a physical body. Living on earth as though it is real serves a purpose, a purpose that at a deep instinctive level we all know would be thwarted should we act in ways that ignored the “rules” of the virtual reality we inhabit while we have a physical body.

    However, I also believe that there comes a point in the spiritual journey that each of us is taking where our knowledge of the true nature of reality becomes so vast and deep that we realize our innate capacity of “break” those rules. These actions are called miracles, and there are many examples, recorded and not throughout history. In Yogananda’s book, Autobiography of a Yogi, there was an enlightened man who taught in India while wearing no clothes. He was repeatedly arrested and locked in a cell, and every time magically appeared on the roof of the police station, still naked, walking back and forth. They eventually gave up and left him alone. Another story concerns a Hindu sage who had his arm cut off at the shoulder by an overzealous police officer and simply picked it up and stuck in back on his body. Three days later there was no trace of a wound. I know of a woman who went from HIV positive to HIV negative by imagining a waterfall of healing energy coursing through her body every day. This, according to medical science, is impossible. And finally, I personally know a woman who once teleported herself from one side of her yard to the other to escape a man who was about to attack her. The man fled in terror. (She doesn’t know how she did this.)

    The tone of the piece quoted in the post is distressing, I must say. It’s implication is that people cannot disagree with the author without being hypocrites, something I have been accused of more than once in threads where these metaphysical questions have been discussed. I wish to state again that it is possible for people to hold philosophical views that constitute a minority opinion genuinely, as a result of deep and life-long thoughtful contemplation of the human condition and situation. The contempt that drips from the words of the above quote bespeak a kind of metaphysical chauvinism that I frequently encounter in these threads and which, frankly, is not very attractive.

  6. Bruce David,

    I’m (genuinely) curious what you make of sin.

  7. “The greatest disaster of the nineteenth century was this: that men began to use the word “spiritual” as the same as the word “good.” They thought that to grow in refinement and uncorporeality was to grow in virtue. When scientific evolution was announced, some feared that it would encourage mere animality. It did worse: it encouraged mere spirituality. It taught men to think that so long as they were passing from the ape they were going to the angel. But you can pass from the ape and go to the devil.” – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

  8. I’m (genuinely) curious what you make of sin.

    It’s bad.

    I’m (genuinely) curious what you make of sin.

    It’s one of those things where you really have to ask yourself whether you’re willing to pay for it.

  9. Brent: in response to, “I’m (genuinely) curious what you make of sin.”

    This question, and my response, has stirred up some rather lengthy, heated discussions on other threads. My position is an anathema to most Christians, at least most of the ones I encounter here at UD. I really don’t want to get into another such long thread that basically goes nowhere, since neither I nor my opponents in such discussions ever move from their initial positions. However, since you ask, and since you include that word “genuinely” in your question, I will offer at least one response. Whether I will be willing to continue into another long thread will have to wait and see.

    At the risk of oversimplifying the case, I see two aspects to Christianity, which I like to characterize as the love side and the sin side. Basically, I applaud the notion of love as I see it understood and practiced by Christians. However, I see the idea of sin as a monumental and pernicious mistake made by Christianity and indeed most religions because it separates us from God (and each other), and thus obscures the most basic Truth, which is that there is no separation. We are all One–One with each other and One with God.

    In my view the notion of sin also contradicts the idea of God as unconditionally loving. I don’t believe that there is any sin in God’s eyes. The notion of sin, as I see it (which came into Christianity from Judaism), was invented as a way to keep the flock in line, to make members of society behave through fear, intimidation, and shame. I don’t believe that God operates through fear and shame. He operates through Love, since that is what He is.

    But then how are we to know how to act, you may ask. We have to decide for ourselves in the circumstances in which we find ourselves in each eternal moment of now. However, God not only gave us free will, He also gave us true Freedom, without taking it back by threatening us with punishment if we don’t do what He wants us to. This is so we can be truly free to explore and create Who We Really Are, which is in His image and likeness. Since His image and likeness is Love, the way to decide what action to take in any given moment that will be most in line with Who We Really Are will be to answer the question, “What would Love do now?”

    Christians in general who object to my views usually invoke scripture to back up their positions, so let me say up front that since I do not accept the Bible as an authority, such arguments would be wasted on me.

  10. I see the idea of sin as a monumental and pernicious mistake made by Christianity and indeed most religions because it separates us from God (and each other), and thus obscures the most basic Truth, which is that there is no separation. We are all One–One with each other and One with God.

    So to you, it’s the mere idea of sin that separates us from God, whereas in Christianity it is actual sin which separates us from God.

    But you seem to agree that there is something that can separate us from God, even if that something is just an idea.

    So what is wrong with calling anything which separates us from God, sin?

    What word do you use for “that which separates us from God”? Why not call it sin?

  11. 11
    CannuckianYankee

    Mung,

    You’ve just picked up on an area in Bruce’s philosophy where there is glaring inconsistency (there’s many more). Bruce believes that we’re all a part of God, so obviously, nothing can separate us from God – well except the idea of sin, of course. Notice I haven’t invoked any scripture here – just logic.

  12. 12

    To Mung and Cannuckian Yankee:

    There is a distinction that needs to be made here. In the first place, nothing can ever separate us from God in reality, because in reality we are, as I said, One.

    However, we can EXPERIENCE ourselves as separate from God if we believe we are. Our experience reflects our beliefs. So when I say that the idea of sin separates us from God, I mean it only in the latter sense, that it causes us to experience ourselves as separate.

    Now before you come back at me with something like, “Well, if you don’t believe anything is bad, then what difference does it make whether we experience ourselves as separate or not?”, the ONLY sense in which I would say nothing is bad is in the MORAL sense. However, believing that nothing is bad in the sense of sin in no way precludes the stance that some things are preferable or more desirable than others. And to me it is preferable for our experience to reflect reality as it actually is, which results in the experience of love, peace, and joy, which I for one most definitely prefer to the experience of alienation, aloneness, and even despair that accompanies the experience of separation.

  13. 13
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    I’ve been reading Chesterton a lot recently, and here’s what he has to say on the matter, which I believe is quite insightful:

    “The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues.

    When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose.

    The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage.

    But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.

    For example, Mr. Blatchford attacks Christianity because he is mad on one Christian virtue: the merely mystical and almost irrational virtue of charity. He has a strange idea that he will make it easier to forgive sins by saying that there are no sins to forgive.

    Mr. Blatchford is not only an early Christian, he is the only early Christian who ought really to have been eaten by lions.” (GK Chesterton – Orthodoxy)

    Of interest here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Blatchford

    True love (charity) in my estimation, stems from forgiveness. If there is no sin, there is no forgiveness, and as such love (charity) becomes meaningless. It’s just an aimless wandering virtue as Chesterton points out.

    It’s quite easy to be “charitable”, but it is not easy to truly love.

    And at that, I leave you with this:

    “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)

    What did Jesus lay down his life for if not for our sins?

  14. Judge Arrington: Mr. D, have you paid your child support this month

    Mr. D: Yes, your honor I have

    JA: But your ex wife tells me she is receiving no money from you

    BD: But my wife, child, and I are the same person. When I pay myself I pay them.

    JA: You and your ex-wife are not even living together

    BD: If I believe that we are not separated, then we are not separated. I do not allow myself to experience separation. Indeed, there is no such thing as separation except in the mind. Anyway, as I just said, my wife and I are the same person.

    JA: So, the same person who says she is not getting child support and wants me to take it from the person who is supposed to be giving it, is really the same person who is giving the child support by keeping it for himself.

    BD: That is correct, your honor. Indeed, not only “is” or “are” we (I never know predicate to use)the same person, YOU and I are the same person. So, if you put me in jail, you are really putting yourself in jail.

    I think the best solution to this problem, your honor, is for my ex wife to allow herself to experience receiving the child support from me because, again, we are really the same person and I have been keeping the money for myself. Also, I want you to experience the joy of love that comes from being compassionate and non-judgmental.

    JA: I see your point. I am not going to put you in jail for this. However, I predict that you may have the experience of being in jail, but when that happens, I want you to remember that you allowed yourself to believe you are there by believing you are there. Also, remember that I will be on the golf course all next week, so since you and I are the same person, it will really be you playing golf which means that you will not really be in jail.

  15. 15
    CannuckianYankee

    Ok, I invoked some scripture, but only for the logical argument.

  16. 16
    CannuckianYankee

    StephenB

    That’s classic.

  17. However, we can EXPERIENCE ourselves as separate from God if we believe we are.

    In my opinion, the best way to ensure that people do not EXPERIENCE themselves as separate from God is to ensure that they cannot EXPERIENCE anything at all.

    If I really love them won’t I “release” them from their “separation” from God?

    Were Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc., merely showing the depth of their love for others?

  18. 18
    CannuckianYankee

    Mung,

    “Were Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc., merely showing the depth of their love for others?”

    Good point. And I dare say they experienced a certain measure of “love”, “peace” and “joy” in doing so.

    One can see how meaningless such “virtues” become when they aren’t anchored in truth. Bruce apparently wants to possess these virtues without the necessary anchor.

  19. CannuckianYankee, your quote from Chesterton about virtues gone wild, is one of my favorite of all time. You appear to read widely and profoundly from a wide variety of theological perspectives.

  20. 20
    CannuckianYankee

    StephenB,

    My only contention with Chesterton on this matter is his implication about the Reformation leading to these virtues running wild. I don’t think that’s an accurate depiction of the Reformation if that’s what he meant. It could be a consequence of the Reformation, but there are certainly other factors involved. In my view the Reformation freed us from certain authorities, but it never freed us from the authority of scripture. However, his insight is quite remarkable on other levels.

  21. Hi CY,

    I think his point would be that as each individual became their own interpreter of Scripture, the “authorities” likewise increased.

    Therefore we were freed from any “certain” authority/.

    Just a guess.

    Now to be sure, the Reformation cry is “sola scriptura,” but Scripture does not interpret itself, in spite of the motto “Scriptura sacra sui ipsius interpres”.

  22. 22

    StephenB, in response to #14:

    When one knows (and I am speaking of real knowledge here, not just belief) that he or she is one with all that is, they know that what one does to another one does to oneself and that what one does for another one does for oneself. The universal response to this awareness is to give up self-centeredness and come into the world from and through love.

    Your lack of understanding is entirely the product of your clinging to the notion that reason can reveal truth. Reason, by itself, is utterly incapable of understanding anything. Real knowledge begins with the realization that one knows nothing whatsoever, which paradoxically actually contains knowledge because for the first time, one has come to an understanding of what knowledge actually is.

  23. 23
    CannuckianYankee

    Mung,

    “I think his point would be that as each individual became their own interpreter of Scripture, the “authorities” likewise increased.

    Therefore we were freed from any “certain” authority.”

    Yes, I suspect that’s what he meant, and as a bit of an understatement; there does seem to be an increase in that following the reformation. This is perhaps a subtle difference between someone like Chesterton, who is Catholic, and a Protestant who might read a bit more into it than is there. I think I did that.

  24. 24
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    re: StephenB at 14 “Your lack of understanding is entirely the product of your clinging to the notion that reason can reveal truth.”

    Tozer is concerned with taking a philosophy to it’s logical conclusions:

    “The idealists and relativists are not mentally sick. They prove their soundness by living their lives according to the very notions of reality which they in theory repudiate and by counting upon the very fixed points which they prove are not there. They could earn a lot more respect for their notions if they were willing to live by them; but this they are careful not to do. Their ideas are brain-deep, not life-deep.”

    Same with Chesterton:

    “At any innocent tea-table we may easily hear a man say, ‘Life is not worth living.’ We regard it as we regard the statement that it is a fine day; nobody thinks that it can possibly have any serious effect on the man or on the world. And yet if that utterance were really believed, the world would stand on its head. Murderers would be given medals for saving men from life; firemen would be denounced for keeping men from death; poisons would be used as medicines; doctors would be called in when people were well; the Royal Humane Society would be rooted out like a horde of assassins. Yet we never speculate as to whether the conversational pessimist will strengthen or disorganize society; for we are convinced that theories do not matter.”

    …and that’s what StephenB has done with yours. I don’t think there’s any lack of understanding there; nor any lack of charity.

    I think a little fairness with the argument is at hand rather than simply brushing it aside. Do you not agree that the strength of a person’s philosophy is found in their ability to live it out in the real world?

  25. 25
    CannuckianYankee

    Whoops, I forgot, you don’t believe there’s any reality outside our minds. How very convenient.

  26. 26

    Bruce David,

    There is a distinction that needs to be made here. In the first place, nothing can ever separate us from God in reality, because in reality we are, as I said, One.

    What did the Buddhist say to the hotdog vendor? “Make me one with everything.”

  27. 27

    Clive,

    And the hotdog vendor replied, “You already are.”

  28. Whoops, I forgot, you don’t believe there’s any reality outside our minds.

    I’m confused.

    I accept that there is no reality outside the mind of God.

    I also agree that my mind is one with the mind of God.

    Yet I am able to think thoughts which are not God’s thoughts.

    There is only one alternative, which is that I am able to think thoughts which are not God’s thoughts.

    However, we can EXPERIENCE ourselves as separate from God if we believe we are.

    It follows that my beliefs are not necessarily the beliefs of God.

    I am thinking that Bruce David will now disappear.

    My thoughts are either my own, or they are the thoughts of God.

    My thoughts may be both mine AND the thoughts of God.

    My thoughts may be mine OR the thoughts of God.

    Can Bruce David’s thoughts now demonstrate that he exists? To demonstrate that he does exist, he’d have to show that my thoughts are not God’s thoughts.

    Good luck Bruce David! You don’t even exist.

  29. What did the Buddhist say to the hotdog vendor?

    Make me one with everything.

    The hotdog vendor replied, “You already are.”

    And the Buddhist went away hungry, yet satisfied.

    Don’t we all just love a happy ending?

  30. 30

    CannukianYankee: “I think a little fairness with the argument is at hand rather than simply brushing it aside. Do you not agree that the strength of a person’s philosophy is found in their ability to live it out in the real world?”

    I didn’t brush it aside. I answered his misrepresentation of my philosophy in my first paragraph (#22). How an awareness of Oneness is reflected in how one lives one’s life is right there if you take the time to understand it.

    But it really is like the story of the Zen master who started pouring a cup of tea for one of his students and didn’t stop. As the tea spilled over everything and the student watched, shocked, the master commented, “Your mind is like this cup; there is no room for any knowledge to come into it. It is already full.”

    The Sufi’s have a saying: “Knowledge is given, not acquired.” What is NOT meant by this is that knowledge comes from some source like learned books, scripture (be it Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu), or even a spiritual master. No, the knowledge is given within; it becomes apparent to one’s inner knowing, like a kind of seeing. One was blind, but now can see. These “seeings” happen little by little, like a series of veils being removed one by one. But this is not possible until one first “empties his cup” by acknowledging that there might be something that he or she does not know, the knowing of which could change everything.

  31. 31

    Response to Mung (#28):

    So, what, you think God is so limited that He cannot hold my mind and your mind within His mind?

    I’ll tell you this: If you really BELIEVED that I do not exist, like you believe that the sun will rise tomorrow, say, then I would cease to exist IN YOUR EXPERIENCE. I would still be hanging around in some others’ though.

  32. Bruce David @9,

    Thanks for the response. I know you’ve been grilled in lengthy threads before, so thanks for responding even though you obviously risk more grilling. I say that, however, because I think I can imagine how it makes you feel, but I must say that, if you are wrong in your understanding, it is a good thing for you to be grilled.

    So, how do you deal with, for example, murder? Is that an innocent “exploring” of life, acceptable because God (who we are a part of) has given us freedom? So, as God, we can kill another part of God and God won’t be mad? I don’t get it.

    Also, if we are one—one with God and one another—how is there ANY God? The idea of God includes, primarily even, the idea of one who is transcendent, above. But if we are one, there is simply no “above”. There couldn’t be ANY God. It is a meaningless word.

    But you did say that God gave us freedom, and therefore it seems a contradiction, for to be given freedom presupposes that there is one with the power and transcendence to give it, and therefore it comes from a source that IS separate from ourselves. So, it seems that your understanding is even internally contradictory.

  33. 33
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    “I didn’t brush it aside. I answered his misrepresentation of my philosophy in my first paragraph (#22). How an awareness of Oneness is reflected in how one lives one’s life is right there if you take the time to understand it.”

    I know you think you answered it, but all you really gave is platitudes with no connection to anything tangible. Love is meaningless without some anchoring in tangibles. As such, so is oneness. You argue outside tangible reality and it all becomes pretty much meaningless.

    I referred to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as the greatest example of love. Jesus’ sacrifice is the tangible for what love means, and I would add that love in action is laid out in 1 Cor:13. What is your tangible for oneness, which would cause anyone outside yourself to grasp what you’re talking about?

    I would say then that StephenB has given a pretty accurate depiction of how your philosophy plays out if you were to try and live it consistently.

  34. 34

    CannuckianYankee: “I know you think you answered it, but all you really gave is platitudes with no connection to anything tangible. Love is meaningless without some anchoring in tangibles.”

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I must disagree. In my understanding, love is what philosophers sometimes call a primitive concept. It cannot be defined in any terms other than itself. You either know what it is or you don’t. God is love. We, being created by Him in His image and likeness are also love. Love expresses itself into the creation in many ways. Certainly Jesus’ death on the cross, if it is in fact true that he had foreknowledge and chose it as a sacrifice for all of humanity, was a great expression of love. There are many, many others also, but none of these expressions of love define it. It cannot be defined. It just is.

    “What is your tangible for oneness, which would cause anyone outside yourself to grasp what you’re talking about?”

    You may not believe this, but I personally know hundreds of people who know exactly what I am talking about (no exaggeration), and given the popularity of the Conversations with God series of books, I suspect there are millions.

    “I would say then that StephenB has given a pretty accurate depiction of how your philosophy plays out if you were to try and live it consistently.”

    StephenB continues to make errors through his belief that reason can give him access to genuine truth. His example turns the truth backwards. One who truly knows the oneness never acts from “What I do to or for myself I do to or for another.” Rather, he or she acts from “What I do to or for another I do to or for myself.” StephenB (and I suspect you also) cannot see the difference because they appear to be logically equivalent. But I can tell you for certain that the difference makes all the difference. You either see it or you don’t.

  35. 35

    Brent,

    Thank you for the civility of your response. You obviously disagree with me, yet you express your disagreement in the form of questions rather than attacks. I regard this as the essence of civil discourse, which allows for the possibility of genuine understanding between people (which is not to say that I necessarily expect we will end up agreeing with each other). I appreciate it very much.

    As I read your comment, I see two fundamental questions. The first has to do with how I regard murder, which of course can stand for any act that is normally considered particularly heinous, in my philosophy, and the second seems to be something like how can there be any notion of God if there is only One Existence of which everything is a part. I will take them in order.

    The first thing it is necessary to understand is how I see this physical existence, which is that it is an illusion. It isn’t real. It is a kind of virtual reality in which we immerse ourselves in order to experience what can be known but not experienced in actual reality. So murder or any act committed here does not carry the same kind of importance that it would were this existence not an illusion.

    Secondly, I take the statement that we are made in the image and likeness of God very seriously. However, I also hold that the process of being born into a physical body includes forgetting that fact. This is so that we can fulfill the purpose of this illusion, which is to have the exquisite and holy experience of remembering. And when we do remember, even partly, Who We Really Are, murder or other “heinous” acts become a non-issue. Anyone who remembers his or her true nature simply would not do such a thing, not because it would be wrong, but because it would violate their nature. So when someone does commit murder, it is a result of their not yet having remembered Who They Really Are. The appropriate response is not to condemn them, but to remind them.

    Now this is not to say that therefore no one has a right to defend themselves or their loved ones, or that society has no justification for protecting its members from being murdered. There are many motivations for action other than punishment or to correct a moral wrong. Likes and dislikes, preferences, desire, fulfillment of a chosen goal, love of beauty, and passion are all possible motivators for action that do not necessarily involve any moral condemnation at all. So I can, for example, protect my wife and son from an attempted murder without any necessity of including moral condemnation in the reason for my action. Likewise, the members of a society can collectively agree to set up deterrents to murder such as incarceration out of a collective desire to continue physical existence that does not include moral condemnation, revenge, or punishment per se. (Not that I believe that’s actually how it is at this stage of humanity’s spiritual evolution. I am speaking theoretically here, anticipating an objection I have encountered before.)

    That is my answer to your first question. Since this is already pretty long, I will address your second question in another comment.

  36. 36

    Brent,

    Actually I see two more questions in your comment #32.

    “Also, if we are one—one with God and one another—how is there ANY God?”

    The only way I know how to answer this is to give a short version of my “creation myth”, if you will. In the beginning was the “I am that I am.” Call Him God. Now God knew that He was magnificent, creative, loving, and joyful, but in the absence of the opposite of these, He could not EXPERIENCE them. So in a stupendous act of creation, He divided Himself into billions of individuations of Himself (ie, us, our souls). He then created the physical universe within Himself as well (as virtual reality). Now the individual souls, each still a part of Him, could choose to incarnate into the physical, in the process forgetting their true nature. Thus, living (temporarily) in the illusion, they each could experience the opposites of those qualities of God and themselves, and thus EXPERIENCE their magnificence, lovingness, and joy (to mention a few), and God, through His individuations of Himself, could experience them as well. So you see, this physical existence, while yet an illusion, has a holy purpose, in which we, as parts of Him, participate in an absolutely necessary way.

    Please note: this is an attempt to summarize in one paragraph what takes pages and pages to explain in Conversations with God. I don’t begin to imagine I have really done it justice. If you are genuinely interested in understanding it, I recommend that you read Conversations with God, Book 1, by Neale Donald Walsch.

    I realize that this contradicts Christian dogma in several fundamental ways. But to me it makes far more sense than Christianity, with its notions of sin and a God who although unconditionally loving nonetheless condemns and punishes the majority of humanity, in many cases totally unfairly.

    “But you did say that God gave us freedom, and therefore it seems a contradiction, for to be given freedom presupposes that there is one with the power and transcendence to give it, and therefore it comes from a source that IS separate from ourselves.”

    Transcendent, yes, but not separate. We are each an individuation of Him, in His image and likeness. But since both we and the physical universe exist within Him, He is both immanent and transcendent. The great mystery in this philosophy is how God managed to give parts of Himself free will. This I readily admit I do not understand. I accept it on faith, much like a Christian accepts the mystery of the Trinity on faith, or the mystery of how God could have created anything outside of Himself from absolutely nothing.

  37. 37
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    I don’t think the mystery of the trinity is necessarily taken purely on faith, and it provides a sufficient counter argument to your creation story as well as an answer to your misunderstanding of free will.

    In your view, God is insufficient without us, so He creates us in order to experience the virtues you mention, which we are then free to express or not to express.

    With God as trinity there is no need for Him to create us. God is self-sufficient, and as such, he has unlimited free-will within His character. His creating us is a reflection of the virtues He already possesses and experiences. So we are not necessary, but God is necessary for us to exist, and our creation and existence are a reflection of His character. We are created in His image such that we also have free-will (but limited) within our character to express those virtues or not. We don’t, for example have the free will to not exist, but our existence is contingent on God’s existence and His will to create us.

    So in your philosophy it would appear that we are not contingent beings, but necessary. In Christianity the only necessary being is God Himself – not contingent on anything, but self sufficient and eternally existing. The very fact that we are created (and at present we physically die), would indicate that we are not necessary beings. This would stand true even if we are atheists.

    We don’t arrive at the trinity doctrine solely on faith, but from both scripture and reason, while much of what is the Trinity may remain a mystery as would be expected.

    Furthermore, there appears to be a contradiction in your assessment that we are both God and created by God. It leads inextricably to the infinite regress problem of who created God. If we as created beings are God, then God is contingent and not necessary, which would be an absurd contradiction in terms.

  38. 38

    CannuckianYankee: “So in your philosophy it would appear that we are not contingent beings, but necessary.”

    Not necessary in the sense that God is a necessary being. Only in the sense that we are necessary to His plan; it won’t work without us. Our existence is still contingent.

    “Furthermore, there appears to be a contradiction in your assessment that we are both God and created by God. It leads inextricably to the infinite regress problem of who created God. If we as created beings are God, then God is contingent and not necessary, which would be an absurd contradiction in terms.”

    Nonsense. To use an analogy I have used before, my dream characters are a part of me, yet contingent upon me, not me upon them. Their existence within me does not make me contingent upon myself. That is false reasoning. In the same way, our being a part of God yet contingent upon Him in no way makes God contingent. That is false logic.

  39. 39
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    “To use an analogy I have used before, my dream characters are a part of me, yet contingent upon me, not me upon them.”

    You’re assuming that your “dream characters” are real and not a product of your subconscious.

    Anyway, I’m not talking about dream characters, but that which we can all acknowledge as real – you and I are contingent and not necessary. If we believe that God created us, then there is that to contend with. If we were created by God, then at least we are contingent and not necessary. If we then believe that we are a part of God or God Himself (according to your own creation story), we become necessary to God; yet we can’t be necessary, since we were created by Him. Therein lies the absurdity. It’s not a false logic at all.

  40. 40
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    “Transcendent, yes, but not separate. We are each an individuation of Him, in His image and likeness.”

    This makes no logical sense whatsoever. If we are in His image and likeness, and yet we are Him or a part of Him, it would stand to reason that the distinction of our being in His image or likeness are unnecessary. We are Him. It would be similar to say “I as me, am in my image and likeness.” It’s merely a tautology, which defines nothing substantially. If we are God, it is a given that we are in His image and likeness.

    The reason we can make the distinction of being in God’s image and likeness, is precisely because we are not God.

  41. 41

    CannuckianYankee,

    You, like StephenB, insist on trying to find logical contradiction in my thinking where none exists. Your arguments are based on twisting my meaning into something other than what it is.

    It is pointless for me to refute you again, as you won’t accept my reasoning anyway. Let anyone reading these posts decide for him or herself who makes the most sense.

  42. Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, Here is your philosophy in a nutshell;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk1ceWinU-E

  43. i.e. that dog don’t hunt!!! :)

  44. 44
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    I believe that God has designed the universe in such a way, and has indeed designed us in such a way as to allow us the benefit of determining within our own understanding what is logically valid and what is logically absurd in order for us to be able to live our lives in the real world. As such, StephenB and I, or any of the onlookers and other contributors don’t really have to try and find contradictions in your thinking. That they exist is quite apparent in what you’ve written.

    Does this mean that we ourselves are not also prone to doing the same? Not in the least – we all are human; but I think if one appreciates God as he is – a self-sufficient necessary being outside of ourselves, completely transcendent of all that exists, one is less likely to make the absurd contradictions you have laid out for us, and much more likely to be able to live out our philosophy in the real world; which is what Tozer is concerned with in the OP. It’s not a conceit on our part, but more of an acknowledgement of and an insistence on what is reality as opposed to what is not. And we believe these distinctions are life-deep (as Tozier says) and not just brain-deep.

    If our opinions then are important to you, which they apparently is not, then it shouldn’t matter to you that we are able to find these contradictions. If we are as you say a part of God, then our thinking is also a part of God and a part of you. It makes no sense then that you should try to counter your own thinking. The very fact then that it is not your own thinking would indicate that at least we are not a part of God as you seem to believe you are….

    I leave the “….” because there really is no end to this. An acceptable “ending” would be to just agree to disagree and move on. So in that I’m in agreement. ;)

  45. 45

    CannuckianYankee:

    I’m definitely ok with agreeing to disagree.

    I would like to say one thing in closing, however. None of the ideas and beliefs in my spiritual perspective are original with me. In other words, they are shared by many others. In particular, virtually every mystic from every spiritual and religious tradition affirms the Oneness. It is even mentioned by Pim van Lommel in a YouTube video that was linked in one of Bornagain77′s comments that one of the realizations that results for people from their near death experiences is that everything is one, and that the result of this realization is that love and compassion become primary in one’s life. At the end of the video, he even states that when one realizes our oneness, our interconnection with each other, then we know that what we do to another we do to ourselves, and what we do to the planet, we do to ourselves.

    So you see, my ideas are not so far out as you seem to think.

  46. 46

    Here is the link I referred to in #45:

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

  47. 47
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    Regarding Oneness. Some people use that as a metaphor for our being in similar situations – we are one as in all being one human family, and can relate to each other in that regard. In fact, our ability to do things with great collective effort is often the result of our setting aside our differences for a greater cause. That’s not quite the same as being literally one as if there is nothing which makes us unique individuals.

    For such people oneness is not intended to be taken as literally as you take it – as if our individuality is not even in consideration. Individuality in my opinion is something to be celebrated, not scorned. It is part of the mark, which makes us human.

    So I can accept that kind of “oneness,” but not the kind that you endorse.

  48. 48
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce and BA77,

    While I absolutely appreciate much of what BA has to say, I don’t really endorse the kinds of evidence he uses for near death experiences for that very reason. I do believe that some people may have genuine near death experiences, while others (sort of like those who claim to have been abducted by aliens), have very active imaginations, and I don’t know one way or the other – nor could I know, which are in fact genuine and which are not. I don’t, for example, believe that simply because a person is a Christian and has claimed to have a near death experience, that I should take them at their word. At the same time, I would not be necessarily suspicious of a NDE claim simply because it came from someone who is not a Christian. The fact is, I don’t know either way.

    I believe in life after death on logical and scriptural grounds, but I don’t necessarily need to have physical evidence for every little thing I believe, because they have other well grounded evidences, which are logically tied to other beliefs for which there is strong evidence. I base my belief in life after death in my belief in God, and it follows from logical arguments for His existence, coupled with the reality of the afterlife in Scripture. I don’t then need to go looking for evidence of the afterlife to satisfy that belief.

    I personally am skeptical of the idea that the dead return to us to inform us of what it’s like. The reason for this skepticism, is because the details of such a phenomenon could then be interpreted as new revelation, and I believe revelation (from human beings) was closed after the scriptures were written down, and there’s a very good scriptural basis for why I believe that. Thus, I don’t think believing in near death experiences is crucial for accepting life after death as a real phenomenon.

    I’m probably more likely to accept a peson’s report of a NDE if it isn’t coupled with grand visions of having gone to heaven and returned with a new message for all of us. There seems to be some of that going on in some of these reports, but not all. I think what is interesting though, is the similarities between various NDE claims. But I think more needs to be studied and known before coming to any definitive conclusions.

  49. 49

    CannuckianYankee, regarding #47:

    Well then I guess we’ll just have to continue to agree to disagree, since I am quite certain that mystics, including Pim van Lommel’s patients who had NDE’s, mean it as I have described it. After all someone experiencing oneness as “being in similar situations” generally does not conclude that what one does to another one does to oneself and that what one does to the planet, one does to oneself. And my teacher’s teacher, Bulent Rauf, was speaking literally and from his own personal experience when he said, “God shows you he is you, and then, little by little, He shows you how He is everything else.”

  50. 50
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    “After all someone experiencing oneness as “being in similar situations” generally does not conclude that what one does to another one does to oneself and that what one does to the planet, one does to oneself.”

    But how would you know that? Suppose people who don’t believe in your idea of oneness accept that what they do to another has consequences that can either come back to haunt them, or if they do good to another, return as a blessing to them. Isn’t that pretty much the same sort of moral view? That view is found throughout scripture- particularly in the Proverbs. You don’t have to accept a literal oneness to have that view.

    Sorry to keep harking on this – and I did say I would stop, but this statement is really out of line with the reality of others’ basis for morality. What kind of oneness assumes that others can’t have your same basis for morality? It appears decidedly un-oneness to me. Have you ever heard of the golden rule? What makes you think that rule is unique to those who accept your philosophy? Just because you take that rule – (which I believe is not unique to any particular group) and apply it in a different idiom does not imply that you therefore own it.

    There is a reason why Jesus states the golden rule as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s a command, and not a plea for the same to be done to you. What we would have done to us is the standard for measuring what we ought to do to others, but it is a standard that doesn’t need to expect anything in return. In other words we do good to others because it is good, and not because we would benefit in any way from it. But it just so happens that when we do good, there IS more benefit to us than if we do evil, just as your philosophy implies (even if you reject the idea of good and evil). That’s simply the way God designed it.

    So you’ve shown that even in your philosophy there’s a measure for goodness and for loving others, which you seem to deny, but you keep trying to show the opposite. Why not at least take some credit for that little bit of logic?

  51. Bruce,

    I think I must ask if you believe a thing may be both A and non A at the same time and in the same way. From what I can understand in what your position seems to be, I don’t know how you could justify believing in the concept, even, of contradiction. If everything is illusory, there seems no ground for even suggesting that reality can be known, or worse, even really exist.

    If what, according to you, seems to be our physical world isn’t real, and isn’t therefore a valid means by which to come to an understanding of reality, then what makes your, or anyone’s, imagination of what reality is like any better or more true than another’s?

    And, then, this would get right back to the very thing that Barry was quoting, that if one’s beliefs are not able to actually be lived by in this world, then they must be rejected as wrong. But you have NO standard by which to judge your understanding. It could be 100% correct, or 100% incorrect, but you have no way of knowing. It is purely subjective, isn’t it?

    I’ll add that I think your position that it isn’t inconsistent to defend your family, for example, shows one instance of this inability to live your beliefs in the actual world. There seems to be a stronger instinct within you that rejects your actual stated beliefs. So why wouldn’t you consider that stronger instinct to be in accordance with reality; a reality that “fits” within the actual world?

    Sorry! I think that is somewhat of a mish-mash of questions, but hopefully you can get what I’m saying.

  52. Bruce David and CannuckianYankee, interesting that Bruce would use just one of my references for Near Death Experiences (NDE’s) while ignoring the full body of evidence that I have presented to him that has clearly shown that there is ‘something to’ the Judeo-Christian culture which is completely unique when compared to other non-Judeo-Christian cultures.

    Especially this reference from a pantheistic culture which is typical with other studies from pantheistic cultures;

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    i.e. as CannuckianYankee has somewhat alluded to, when a individual person’s ‘interpretation’ of the NDE is given precedence over the actual elements mentioned by the person, then the ‘imagination’ is given too much play in evidence, which is exactly what me must guard against, especially in this area of studying Near Death Experiences. It is very important to give full weight to the entire ‘body of evidence’, from a broad base in EACH unique culture studied, so as to negate the ‘imagination factor’ that individuals bring when interpreting; And when this correct method is used we see,,,,:

    Several studies (Pasricha, 1986, Schorer, 1985-86) & Kellehear, 1993) Murphy 1999,2001) have indicated that the phenomenologies of NDEs is culture-bound. (Of Note: Judeo-Christian Culture NDEs are by far the most pleasant “phenomena”)
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindestxt.htm

    thus Bruce David, the way in which you have ‘cherry picked’ exactly which evidence you will look at, while completely ignoring the rest of the body of evidence I have presented to you that testifies so sharply against you, invalidates any claim of impartiality that you may had from your ‘inner knowing’ in this area!!!!

    Here are a few of the ‘common elements’ of NDE’s from Judeo-Christian cultures:

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

    ———————

    here is a NDE I found yesterday from a man who was shot in the head;

    Near Death Experience Testimony – To Outer Darkness (Hell) and Back – Matthew Botsford – video
    http://vimeo.com/19297257

  53. f/n; In the description of this following video is a discussion of ‘physical evidence’ that indicates that reality actually does conform to the Theistic belief that we go to a ‘eternal dimension’ upon our separation from this ‘temporal’ body, As well there is discussion of ‘separation from God’ which is not possible in Bruce’s ‘preferred’ belief system;

    Mickey Robinson On Sid Roth – Evidence For Life After Death Discussed in Description
    http://www.vimeo.com/22834087

  54. 54

    Brent,

    For the first part of your comment (#51), my response is, how do you know that the physical world is real? Can you prove, even to yourself, that you are not dreaming at this very moment?

    To the second, your assertion that my desire to protect my family demonstrates my “inability to live [my] beliefs in the actual world”, I respond, How so? What in that desire contradicts anything in my stated philosophy? Put another way, what in my system of beliefs prevents me from wanting them to continue to have the opportunity to learn and grow in physical existence, as they have chosen to do?

  55. 55

    CannuckianYankee, in response to #50:

    The awareness that I am one with everything and that therefore whatever I do to another or the planet is done to myself (because “I am that”) is not a moral statement, it is an ontological statement. If you are so inclined, you can derive an ethics from it, but that is a matter of choice. It is not a necessary consequence of the understanding.

    When one acts from love, one is not acting from any kind of moral sense. You can decide that acting from love is morally good and acting from anything other than love is morally bad if you wish, but that is a separate choice, and one that is not required in order to act from love. One can just decide to act from love simply because one chooses to, or because they like the way it feels.

  56. Bruce @54,

    ” . . . how do you know that the physical world is real? Can you prove, even to yourself, that you are not dreaming at this very moment?”

    Well, I can differentiate between a dream and non-dream. If I couldn’t, or if anyone couldn’t, then we wouldn’t have the word “dream” at all. But, if you say that there is a higher reality which we do not realize, and this present, seeming reality, is a dream-like state, then what makes your dream truer than mine? There is no objectivity whatever. My dream is just as true, and just as false, as your dream. Whence the grounding of your dream so that you can call it true? You have none. But you are, apparently, very confident that your dream is true. That is a contradiction.

    But, for fear that even this gets too complicated, let’s make it as simple as possible. Please, from your worldview, show coherently that 2+2=4. You cannot. And if you cannot, then you have no grounding for anything.

  57. 57

    Brent, in response to #56.

    These are actually quite deep philosophical questions we are getting into here. This is good (but not in a moral sense, of course).

    Absolutely knowing that any of our experience is “true” (in any sense other than that it is our experience) is, from a logical point of view, impossible, IMO. It is for this reason that the philosopher Santayana held that all we can ever know is “solipsism of the present moment”. Most of us believe that there is more to existence than just our experience in this moment, however. What you and I (and a few others) are discussing in this thread is what we believe there is to existence beyond our experience in the present moment. My position is that all there is is consciousness, but that when we have a physical body we live in a world of virtual reality. Instead of a computer program managing it like in a flight simulator or computer game, however, God is managing it so that your experience and my experience dovetail sufficiently for us to experience that we inhabit the same (virtual) reality.

    You, on the other hand, believe that the physical universe, matter, is real and has an existence independent of consciousness. I contend, based on my own thinking but informed by many other philosophers and mystics, that that position has problems when examined carefully that no one has yet been able to solve, e.g., the mind-body problem, the epistemological problem (how can we actually know that there is anything “out there”?), problems raised by the findings of modern physics, and the existence of psychic phenomena such as pre-cognition. All of these problems disappear in a world that consists entirely of consciousness entirely contained within and orchestrated by God’s consciousness.

    Regarding your question about 2+2=4, the truth of this is not a function of the physical world. This is a truth from the realm of thought. Mathematicians prove this from the Peano postulates, a set of axioms used in the foundations of mathematics. The proof occurs in the realm of ideas, not physical objects. What is true is that the physical world conforms to that and a whole lot of other mathematics. My belief is that the reason for this is that God set it up that way. It is necessary for the purpose of physical existence to be fulfilled that the illusion be very persuasive. And it is. However, again in my view, God left enough clues lying about that when a soul is ready to see beyond the illusion into reality itself, the illusion can be seen through.

  58. Bruce, yesterday why did you quote the one Near Death Experience study I cited from Lommel, but fail to cite the hellish pantheistic NDE studies I cited??? This ‘prejudice’ of your ‘inner knowing’ seems very selective to me!!! It sure seems like you got the whole game rigged. You are free to pick and choose whatever evidence you will consider because your ‘inner knowing’ let’s you get away with this, yet our ‘inner knowing’ that tells us that you are full of bull is dismissed by you because somehow, in your mind, you believe that your inner knowing is more valid than ours???!!???

  59. 59

    Bornagain, in response to #58:

    You have it exactly right. My inner knowing guides me to the truth. If your inner knowing leads you somewhere else, then go there. I have no problem with us having different beliefs. The only reason I post to these threads is to give people reading them the possibility of another point of view regarding the true nature of reality.

    I will tell you though, in all due respect, I don’t think you yet have a clue what inner knowing actually is, nor are you yet in touch with it, at least when it comes to informing your worldview. I also believe that it will eventually come to you, as it eventually comes to everyone. Sorry if this sounds arrogant, but that is just how I see it.

    As far as the NDEs are concerned. You have the ones like those that Dr. van Lommel found and ones that reflect a Hellish experience. They are mutually contradictory. Given that people of all religious persuasions including atheists were in Dr. van Lommel’s study, my way to reconcile the two that is consistent with what I know to be true is that people who have a deep perhaps unconscious belief that Hell exists and/or that they are headed there may experience that in an NDE, since our beliefs are very powerful (but not the only) determinants of our experience, even after death.

    Sorry that I reach a different conclusion from the NDEs than you do, but there you have it. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  60. But of course Bruce David,you believe your inner knowing is far more refined than mine, or anyone else’s ‘inner knowing’ who dares disagree with you, which is exactly why you believe whatever you want. Thus not only are you egregiously wrong in logic your ‘wrongness’ stems from the fact that you arrogantly think you can’t possibly be wrong because your ‘inner knowing’ tells you so. An inner knowing which you hold is better than anyone who disagrees with you! ,,, What a tangled web of self-deception you have trapped yourself in Bruce!!!

  61. You forget one thing in your cherry of picking of Lommel, Bruce. His studies were ALL done in a Judeo-Christian culture. Yet,,,

    Several studies (Pasricha, 1986, Schorer, 1985-86) & Kellehear, 1993) Murphy 1999,2001) have indicated that the phenomenologies of NDEs is culture-bound. (Of Note: Judeo-Christian Culture NDEs are by far the most pleasant “phenomena”)
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindestxt.htm

    and when we look at purely pantheistic cultures we find,,,

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Bruce if you want to prove that your pantheistic beliefs are better than Judeo-Christian beliefs, then go find, or conduct, a study in a pantheistic culture which contradicts the consistent finding of hellish experiences I have found for pantheistic cultures!!! But do not cherry pick data from Near Death Experiences studies done in a Judeo-Christian culture. My ‘inner knowing’ finds this ‘cherry picking’ practice of yours repugnant!!!

  62. Bruce @57,

    Does it matter whether 2+2=4 is a function of the physical world or not? Do you claim to believe it is true simply because you think it isn’t a function of the physical world? Why? You still have to give me a reason why you believe it is true, and how you can show it to be true from your worldview, which I don’t think you can.

  63. 63

    Brent, regarding #62:

    I can prove that 2+2=4 from the Peano postulates. It’s a relatively trivial mathematical exercise. Since the Peano postulates contain no axiom that depends on the existence of a physical universe, their truth is independent of whether I believe matter exists or not.

  64. And, how can you talk about it — with whom — and form the concepts [as opposed to the definitions] behind 2, and, equals and four?

  65. 65

    Bornagain: “But of course Bruce David,you believe your inner knowing is far more refined than mine, or anyone else’s ‘inner knowing’ who dares disagree with you, which is exactly why you believe whatever you want. Thus not only are you egregiously wrong in logic your ‘wrongness’ stems from the fact that you arrogantly think you can’t possibly be wrong because your ‘inner knowing’ tells you so. An inner knowing which you hold is better than anyone who disagrees with you!”

    Here’s what I ACTUALLY believe about inner knowing: As souls, we each have perfect knowledge. This is a consequence of being created in His image and likeness. When we choose to inhabit a physical body, however, forgetting Who We Really Are is part of it, as I have said. Thus, our perfect knowingness (aka our inner knowing) gets veiled. The veils can be effectively opaque or nearly transparent, or anything in between, and they can become more transparent over the course of a lifetime (as a result of spiritual work, an NDE, etc.). However, they are never completely clear as long as one occupies a body, due to the filters that “come with the territory” of physical existence. So my actual position vis a vis inner knowing is that everyone’s is perfect, yet veiled to a greater or lesser extent. I fully recognize that this also applies to me. However, my inner knowing is nonetheless my own best avenue to truth. I have nothing better. But yours is your own best avenue also. And if we disagree, well, we disagree.

    Your accusation is quite unfair, actually. I have never said that my inner knowing is better than yours or anyone else’s. And you have never invoked your own inner knowing as a warrant for anything you believe is true. You have invoked reason, scripture, fulfilled prophesy, the shroud of Turin, and NDEs, but never your own inner knowing. I acknowledge that I hold inner knowing to be a superior source of truth than any or all of these, but not just my inner knowing, anyone’s. The relevant question is to what extent does one have access to it.

  66. 66

    Kairosfocus: “And, how can you talk about it — with whom — and form the concepts [as opposed to the definitions] behind 2, and, equals and four?”

    I can talk about it because I presently inhabit a virtual reality that includes the ability for oral and written communication with other souls who also currently inhabit that virtual reality. I can form the concepts because creative intelligence is an aspect of my essential nature.

    What’s your point?

  67. Bruce David you state in 65;

    ‘Your accusation is quite unfair, actually. I have never said that my inner knowing is better than yours or anyone else’s.’

    yet you state in 59,,,

    ‘You have it exactly right. My inner knowing guides me to the truth. If your inner knowing leads you somewhere else, then go there.’

    ,,,Now you either think that your ‘inner knowing’ is better than my ‘inner knowing’ so as to lead you to the truth and me somewhere else, or else you think there is more than one ultimate metaphysical truth. Either way it is sheer nonsense in my book, and if you are offended that I call a spade a spade so be it, but I calls em like my ‘inner knowing’ sees em! :)

    —-

    Brooke Fraser – Lord of Lords(Legendado Português)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkF3iVjOZ1I

  68. 68

    Bornagain re. #67:

    Oh, I see. My statement can definitely be interpreted to mean that my inner knowing guides me to the truth and yours does not. I retract the statement; that is not what I had in mind when I wrote it.

    A more expanded version would be that each of our inner knowing guides us toward the truth, but because of the veils I mentioned in #65, neither of us will be able to see the truth in its fullness while we are in the physical. So each of our understandings will be an approach to the truth, but not an arrival, so to speak. And since there are many “ways up the mountain”, our paths may be different.

    What I was trying to say was that if your inner knowing looks different from mine, it will nonetheless be as valid for you as mine is for me, hence my statement, “If your inner knowing leads you somewhere else, then go there.”

    I hope that clears it up.

  69. Bruce,

    Could you define “1″, please?

  70. Bruce you state;

    ‘And since there are many “ways up the mountain”, (to the ‘truth’) our paths may be different.’

    Yet the ‘truth’ is;

    Matthew 7:13
    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

    John 14:6
    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    Bruce, that surely don’t sound like ‘many ways up the mountain’ to me!!!

  71. 71

    Bornagain: “Bruce, that surely don’t sound like ‘many ways up the mountain’ to me!!!”

    You accept the Bible as unassailable truth. I do not.

    Furthermore, what it actually means is open to interpretation. Another person might interpret the exact same passages you quote differently than you do. Even further, the words in English carry meanings that might be significantly different in the language in which Jesus originally spoke them. And, we don’t really know if they were reported accurately by the time the authors of Matthew and John wrote them down, which scholars estimate was decades after the fact.

  72. 72

    Brent: “Could you define “1?, please?”

    In the Peano postulates, 1 is the successor of 0.

    How do you define 1?

  73. Bruce David,

    you state in regards to Jesus’ claim of being the way, the truth, and the life,,,

    ‘You accept the Bible as unassailable truth. I do not.’

    And yet I have consistent Near Death Experience studies from pantheistic cultures, that tell me that your pantheistic ‘many paths’ to the truth is completely misguided;

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Several studies (Pasricha, 1986, Schorer, 1985-86) & Kellehear, 1993) Murphy 1999,2001) have indicated that the phenomenologies of NDEs is culture-bound. (Of Note: Judeo-Christian Culture NDEs are by far the most pleasant “phenomena”)
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindestxt.htm

    Bruce David, if you want your ‘many paths’ pantheistic view to have any validity whatsoever you MUST provide a comprehensive study of Near Death Experiences from pantheistic countries to counter the Hellish studies I have listed. You cannot use NDE studies conducted in Judeo-Christian cultures to counter what the pantheistic culture studies are telling us. Your ‘inner knowing’ is of no comfort whatsoever to me in the face of what clearly appear to be such perilous consequences for the results we see for holding purely pantheistic beliefs!.

    Sonicflood – Cry Holy
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW1GbdjAmPU

  74. Bruce,

    “In the Peano postulates, 1 is the successor of 0.”

    Well that isn’t exactly agreed upon, is it? I, and many others, do not consider zero a natural number. As far as I can tell, originally, the postulates start with 1 as a given, more or less, and from there you can have your successors.

    Either way, and this is what this is all about, you cannot even explain and define “1″ coherently without attaching it to something material (and zero only has its meaning in relation to one). If there were literally nothing, how could “1″ have any meaning whatsoever? It flatly couldn’t, and that is why I suggest that you cannot even believe and coherently argue, in your worldview, that 2+2=4.

    I would like to see you try it, however.

  75. Hmmm… Perhaps the Peano postulates did include zero originally. I say that is a mistake. The coherence of zero must come from one.

  76. 76

    Bornagain: “Bruce David, if you want your ‘many paths’ pantheistic view to have any validity whatsoever you MUST provide a comprehensive study of Near Death Experiences from pantheistic countries to counter the Hellish studies I have listed.”

    On the contrary, for your assertion to have merit, you MUST provide a comprehensive study of NDEs that shows that EVERY NDE experienced by a person who is a pantheist is a Hellish one, regardless of what culture they come from.

    There are many possible explanations for the NDE data you adduce besides yours. I have already given you mine.

  77. 77

    Brent: re #74:

    And I would like to see you define 1 in your worldview without the Peano postulates or something equivalent.

    Here’s the point: the world I experience and the world you experience are the same world. The difference is that I hold it to be virtual reality and you hold it to have an existential reality. But if you can define 1 in your world, I can define it the same way in mine.

  78. Bruce David, you state;

    ‘On the contrary, for your assertion to have merit, you MUST provide a comprehensive study of NDEs that shows that EVERY NDE experienced by a person who is a pantheist is a Hellish one,’

    Bruce, here are the individual case studies of pantheist’s NDEs:

    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/bkknde.htm

    Please show me just one out of that collection that compares to a typical ‘heavenly’ Judeo-Christian NDE:

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

    Seems Bruce that you want to believe your gut feeling (excuse me, Inner Knowing) so much that you are willing to severely distort the evidence just so to get your desired conclusion. But the truth is that in pantheistic NDE’s in ‘purely’ pantheistic cultures, the NDE’s are a far cry from the pleasant ‘heavenly’ western NDE’s, and very many of the purely pantheistic NDE’s are downright horrifying. That some people who may claim to be pantheists in western countries have heavenly NDEs does not negate the strong impact a culture has on ones personal beliefs. i.e. The ‘bleed over’ effect is a very real as for establishing personal beliefs!!! That you would be forced to use western Judeo-Christian NDE case studies so as to claim any legitimacy for pantheism in the first place is simply devoid of sound reason and reflects either desperation or ‘lack of logic’, my hunch is for lack of logic on your part.,,, You state that you want to post your beliefs so as to give people a ‘option’. Well I’m glad you have posted your deeply held pantheistic beliefs, for I think you have probably turned quite a few people away from pantheism! :)

    further notes:

  79. 79

    Bornagain: re #78:

    Well, I looked at your link. This is your evidence? You’re kidding, right?

    In the first place, they are NOT all Hellish. In the second place, they obviously reflect Thai religion, not Christian dogma. Yamatoots? Really! And they go to Hell for killing chickens, not giving water or food to the monks, or not performing Buddhist meditations. In the third place, there is no mention of pantheism in any of the stories, so we don’t know what they believed on that score. In the fourth place, their Hell is not eternal, like Christian Hell. Fifth, many of those in Hell will be reborn as animals (a decidedly un-Christian teaching).

    These NDEs are so obviously a result of the beliefs instilled into them by their religion that I am amazed that you actually refer to them as evidence for Christianity.

    Do you actually expect me to take this seriously?

  80. Bruce David you state:

    ‘These NDEs are so obviously a result of the beliefs instilled into them by their religion’

    This is correct!!! Furthermore,,,

    Religion in Thailand
    Excerpt: According to the last census (2000) 94.6% of Thais are Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Muslims are the second largest religious group in Thailand at 4.6%.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Thailand

    and,,,

    excerpt: ‘Buddhists are pantheistic in their view of God’
    http://wri.leaderu.com/orgs/pr.....dhism.html

    ————–

  81. Bruce David I’m puzzled by this comment of yours:

    ‘I am amazed that you actually refer to them as evidence for Christianity.’

    Now Bruce these people in a non-Christian, pantheistic, country are having decidedly ‘un-heavenly’ experiences while they are dead,,, and you don’t see the connection to their pantheism how???

  82. 82

    Bornagain: “Now Bruce these people in a non-Christian, pantheistic, country are having decidedly ‘un-heavenly’ experiences while they are dead,,, and you don’t see the connection to their pantheism how???”

    The only connection I see is that the 11 NDEs from your link very strongly reflect Thai Buddhist religious dogma regarding what happens to a someone after he or she dies. They certainly DO NOT accurately reflect Christian ideas of what will be our fate after death. They are clearly evidence that Thai Buddhism is true.

    Why aren’t you a Buddhist?

  83. Bruce David, correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you deny the reality of hell in the first place??? (I believe you also deny the reality of sin and evil too don’t you???) So does this not mean that you have to completely ignore any accounts of Near Death Experiences which speak of hell???,,, If so, this should create quite the problem for you does it not??? Or does your ‘inner knowing’ allow you to cherry pick with immunity???

  84. 84

    Bornagain: “So does this not mean that you have to completely ignore any accounts of Near Death Experiences which speak of hell???,,, If so, this should create quite the problem for you does it not??? Or does your ‘inner knowing’ allow you to cherry pick with immunity???”

    I have already given you an explanation for the existence of Hellish NDEs that is consistent with my own worldview.

    How do you justify your own cherry picking of the data in which you accept visions of Hell, but completely ignore all the distinctly Buddhist (and distinctly non-Christian) elements of the Thai NDEs?

  85. Bruce @77,

    I think you surely understand my definition of “1″ from my earlier post. Sure, numbers are abstract and themselves not physical, but you seem to believe in them. But, as with anything else abstract, if it isn’t attachable to the physical, it is meaningless, like a bungabulyer(sp?). We don’t have meaningless abstract concepts; they always are grounded in the physical. And here is what I see as your problem. You do not believe in the physical, and therefore have no grounding for anything.

    One has to refer to one something for one to have any meaning. Zero has meaning only in the context that there is such a thing as non-zero, or one. Two, likewise, gets its meaning and coherence from one, and so on. But you do not believe in the reality of anything physical to attach one to. The meaning of one, then, has no meaning, and becomes arbitrary. And if this is the case, then 2+2=4, though you seem to believe it, can only really be an illusion. But if it is an illusion, how do you ground the concept of contradiction, which is what I really want to get at. You cannot rationally—get that part . . . rationally—object to someone asserting that 2+2=5.

    If there is no physical ground to attach words, thoughts, and meanings to, then everything is completely arbitrary. If the things that words and thoughts and meanings are attached to are not real, then the words, thoughts, and meanings are not real either. Your words are meaningless when you insist that everything is really an illusion. Illusion is like zero. It only derives its meaning from the real. But, according to you, there is no real; that which is physical and seemingly real, isn’t in fact real, according to you. If I ask you, then, what IS real, you’ll presumably say that God is real, or the non-physical mind, or some such thing. If I then ask you to explain that to me, you’ll have to tell me what it is like, just like abstract concepts, by appealing to the physical world. But the physical isn’t real. And if what IS supposedly real is like that which isn’t really real, then it also isn’t real. You’ve explained away everything. Nothing is real if the physical isn’t real.

  86. 86

    Brent, re #85,

    You’ve written a lot of words. I think it boils down to what I said earlier: we live in the same universe. The difference is how we view the nature of its reality–virtual for me, existential for you.

    I have a coffee mug sitting on my desk as I type these words. That mug has continuity–it will be there in the morning unless I move it. I can say there is one mug on my one desk, along with two bottles of ink. Those statements remain true even though I am certain that the objects to which they refer have no reality independent of my or another being’s perception of them. The continuity of “physical” objects in my worldview is maintained by God in order that the illusion be convincing so that the purpose of physical existence can be realized.

    I guess my point is that it makes just as much sense to talk about one virtual object as one “real” object. You can also talk about one idea or one thought (which have no physical reality at all), or one piece of unobtainium from the planet Pandora, which exists only in the imagined reality of the movie Avatar.

    Let me repeat: we live in the same universe, a universe that contains solids, liquids, and gases, a universe in which solid objects maintain their form for relatively long periods of time, a universe in which when you put two objects together with two other objects, you have four abjects. Our experience of the universe is comparable. The difference is what we believe about its reality. I do not believe that it has any existence independent of our perceptions. You do. I believe that the fact that these perceptions obey patterns that conform to the laws of physics and mathematics is due to the way God manages the virtual reality. You believe it is because the matter that has independent existence obeys those laws. I believe that your view carries with it insuperable philosophic difficulties, as I mentioned in #57. You seem to believe that no concept or abstraction has meaning unless physical reality has independent existence. I have tried to show you why I don’t agree with that assertion.

  87. I suppose I could argue this a couple of different ways, but I’ll try to keep with the necessity of believing that what we perceive as the reality of the physical world, is, in fact, real.

    I don’t think you’ve appreciated my last point in the previous post enough. Let me say, first, that your Avatar illustration is a good point for my argument. Unobtainium does derive its meaning from the physical! Yes, we have to bridge the gap with our imagination, and we do it without even realizing it. When you say “piece”, and “from the planet Pandora”, immediately we fill in the gaps with size, shape, color, etc., etc. If further hints arise to its nature, we revise the gaps to match. Now, what did your mind come up with when I mentioned “bungabulyer(sp?)”? Can you describe that for me? I doubt you can because I didn’t give any hint (other than “a” which was a mistake, I think). And if you cannot imagine what that is like, it is really a meaningless word.

    Anyway, I say that unobtainium, as unintuitive as it may seem, even derives meaning from the physical world. And I’d also argue that all thoughts and concepts, ultimately, are grounded in physical reality.

    Now, I understand your point that in your view everything can be understood in the same way, but that everything “physical” isn’t actually real, and nothing else changes; everything is viewed and perceived in the same way. And that gets me back to my last point in my last post. If what we are trying to understand must be grounded in something physical, but the physical is not actually real, then what we are trying to understand by the physical cannot be real either.

    Actually, I think you’ve really indicated that this is true yourself. Didn’t you say pretty plainly (to someone else here) that you didn’t think that we could understand anything, reality, from the physical world? It sounded like that is what you were saying. So, if you do agree with that, then you’ll have to reject my premise that we cannot understand anything without attaching something physical to it. If what seems like physical reality isn’t really real, and we can only derive meaning from even abstract ideas from the physical, then nothing is real. As I’ve said, you’ve explained away everything.

  88. Bruce David you state;

    ‘I have already given you an explanation for the existence of Hellish NDEs that is consistent with my own worldview.’

    If you could rehash your worldview I would appreciate it, for if I recall correctly you deny the reality of hell, and in fact in your pantheism I think you hold that we all go back to same place when we die?!? Thus how do you explain the stark contrast between cultures??? i.e. since ALL non-Judeo-Christian cultures have very different, and unpleasant, NDEs from the typical ‘heavenly’ Judeo-Christian ones, how can this be in your metaphysics??? This would seem to present a insurmountable difficulty to your pantheism to someone who was a unbiased observer! Whereas the obvious answer, at least to me, is that the common thread of the western cultures of Judeo-Christianity is what is making the stark difference seen in heavenly western NDEs and unpleasant eastern NDEs. Do you see my problem? If we all truly did go to the same place when we die, as you hold in your pantheism, then should not all NDE’s at least have the basic elements in common, as most heavenly Judeo-Christian NDE’s all share the basic elements of the tunnel, the Light, and the panoramic life review.,,, Your pantheism simply cannot account for the fact that foreign culture NDEs are notorious for their extreme rarity of these ‘heavenly’ elements seen in Judeo-Christian cultures!.

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel – The Light – The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand: Discussion of case histories By Todd Murphy, 1999:
    Excerpt: We would suggest that the near-constant comparisons with the most frequently reported types of NDEs tends to blind researchers to the features of NDEs which are absent in these NDEs. Tunnels are rare, if not absent. The panoramic Life Review appears to be absent. Instead, our collection shows people reviewing just a few karmically-significant incidents. Perhaps they symbolize behavioral tendencies, the results of which are then experienced as determinative of their rebirths. These incidents are read out to them from a book. There is no Being of Light in these Thai NDEs, although The Buddha does appear in a symbolic form, in case #6. Yama is present during this truncated Life Review, as is the Being of Light during Western life reviews, but Yama is anything but a being of light. In popular Thai depictions, he is shown as a wrathful being, and is most often remembered in Thai culture for his power to condemn one to hell. Some of the functions of Angels and guides are also filled by Yamatoots. They guide, lead tours of hell, and are even seen to grant requests made by the experient.

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington:
    Excerpt: Episode 5: The OBE systematically stresses the ‘das-log’s discomfiture, pain, disappointment, anger and disillusionment with others and with the moral worth of the world at large. The acquisition of a yid-lus and the ability to travel instantaneously are also found here.
    Episode 6: The ‘das-log, usually accompanied by a supernatural guide, tours bar-do, where he witnesses painful scenes and meets others known to him. They give him messages to take back.
    Episode 7: The ‘das-log witnesses trials in and tours hell. The crimes and punishments of others are explained to him. Tortured souls also ask him to take back messages to the living. (of note; the last part of this paper contains the full paper)
    http://www.case.edu/affil/tibe.....4&amp

    India Cross-cultural study by Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia Medical School and Dr. Satwant Pasricha of the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India
    Excerpt: “Suddenly I saw two big pots of boiling water, although there was no fire, no firewood, and no fireplace. Then, the man pushed me with his hand and said, “You’d better hurry up and go back.” When he touched me, I suddenly became aware of how hot his hand was. Then I realised why the pots were boiling. The heat was coming from his hands! When I regained consciousness, I had a severe burning sensation in my left arm.” Mangal still had a mark on his left arm that he claims was a result of the burning. About a quarter of Dr Pasricha’s interviewees reported such marks.
    http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/apr/06pas.htm

    The Japanese find death a depressing experience – From an item by Peter Hadfield in the New Scientist (Nov. 30th 1991)
    Excerpt: A study in Japan shows that even in death the Japanese have an original way of looking at things. Instead of seeing ‘tunnels of light’ or having ‘out of body’ experiences, near-dead patients in Japanese hospitals tend to see rather less romantic images, according to researchers at Kyorin University. According to a report in the Mainichi newspaper, a group of doctors from Kyorin has spent the past year documenting the near-death experiences of 17 patients. They had all been resuscitated from comas caused by heart attacks, strokes, asthma or drug poisoning. All had shown minimal signs of life during the coma. Yoshia Hata, who led the team, said that eight of the 17 recalled ‘dreams’, many featuring rivers or ponds. Five of those patients had dreams which involved fear, pain and suffering. One 50-year-old asthmatic man said he had seen himself wade into a reservoir and do a handstand in the shallows. ‘Then I walked out of the water and took some deep breaths. In the dream, I was repeating this over and over.’ Another patient, a 73-year-old woman with cardiac arrest, saw a cloud filled with dead people. ‘It was a dark, gloomy day. I was chanting sutras. I believed they could be saved if they chanted sutras, so that is what I was telling them to do.’ Most of the group said they had never heard of Near-Death Experiences before.
    http://www.pureinsight.org/node/4

    Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in a Melanesian Society by Dorothy E. Counts:
    Excerpt: “When you were in your village you claimed to be an important man. But in this little place you have been eaten up by a knife, a dog, and a pig. And now fire will utterly destroy you.” When the loudspeaker had finished, a fire blazed up and destroyed the remains.
    http://anthropology.uwaterloo......Death.html

    Hindu Woman asks Jesus to Make Himself Real – HE DID!!! – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKp8w1qR5XM

    Monk and Jesus Miracle Story
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOLEW3heQwA

    here is the transcript:

    The Buddhist Monk and Jesus
    Excerpt: Monk “And then the man turned and he walked away, going toward the door. And when he got to the door, he turned back around, and he said,

    Jesus: ‘My name is Jesus.

    Monk: “Now, I had never heard that name before, so I didn’t know who Jesus was. He didn’t tell me anything else about himself, only his name. And then I think I must have fallen asleep again. But later on in the night, I felt warmth in my leg. By morning, I had feeling. And when the doctors came to prep me for surgery, my leg was healed.”
    http://www.asiastories.com/?p=7

  89. of note; to be sure, western NDE’s are not devoid of negative NDEs

    Greyson and Bush (1996) classified 50 Western reports of distressing NDEs into three types:
    * The most common type included the same features as the pleasurable type such as an out-of-body experience and rapid movement through a tunnel or void toward a light but the NDEr, usually because of feeling out of control of what was happening, experienced the features as frightening.
    * The second, less common type included an acute awareness of nonexistence or of being completely alone forever in an absolute void. Sometimes the person received a totally convincing message that the real world including themselves never really existed. (note* according to one preliminary study, a similar type of this NDE may be very common among the Buddhist culture of China)
    * The third and rarest type included hellish imagery such as an ugly or foreboding landscape; demonic beings; loud, annoying noises; frightening animals; and other beings in extreme distress. Only rarely have such NDErs themselves felt personally tormented.

    Former Atheist Howard Storm’s Hellish NDE – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_GmifF8Fkc

    Near Death Experience Testimony – To Outer Darkness (Hell) and Back – Matthew Botsford – video
    http://vimeo.com/19297257

    further notes;

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The Extremely ‘Monitored’ Near Death Experience of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007

  90. 90

    Bornagain: “Thus how do you explain the stark contrast between cultures?”

    I gave you my explanation in #59. It also covers the few examples (1 – 2%, according to Pim van Lommel) of Hellish NDEs from our own culture.

    Some (but not all) of the Thai NDEs that you referenced earlier contain visions of Hell, but they all also contain experiences that reflect specifically Thai Buddhist beliefs (e.g., you are taken to judgment by Yamatoots, you are judged by Yama, Hell is not permanent, souls will be reincarnated (some as animals), eating meat or killing animals (including turtles and chickens) will send you to Hell, not giving the Buddhist monks food or drink will send you to Hell, and not performing Buddhist meditations will prevent you from getting into Heaven).

    You accept the Hellish visions as indicating true reality, but reject all of the Buddhist (ie. non-Christian) elements.

    How do you justify this? How can you cherry pick just the Hell part and completely ignore all of the Buddhist elements of these NDEs?

  91. 91

    Brent,

    “Unobtainium does derive its meaning from the physical!”

    For you it does. For me it derives its meaning from the virtual. All of the “physical” qualities you mention also exist for me, in the reality that I hold as virtual.

    “If what we are trying to understand must be grounded in something physical, but the physical is not actually real, then what we are trying to understand by the physical cannot be real either.”

    I believe I understand the concepts of number and arithmetic as well as the next man, but for me they are grounded in virtual reality instead of existential reality. Since the concept of number is not an actual physical thing, but a concept (ie, mental thing) abstracted from the physical, it is as real for me as it is for you, even though it is not grounded in an externally existing reality. In short, I do not agree with your premise.

    “Didn’t you say pretty plainly (to someone else here) that you didn’t think that we could understand anything, reality, from the physical world?”

    I don’t recall saying that. If you could find the quote you are referring to, I would be happy to respond.

  92. Bruce David, I don’t know where you are finding that I don’t accept the basic elements of Thai NDE’s. I hold the basic elements found common throughout the Thai case studies to be valid, just as I hold the basic elements to be valid in Judeo-Christian NDEs (i.e. tunnel, Light, Panoramic life review) but I reject individual interpretations of NDEs as not trustworthy because of the ‘Imagination Factor’ that individual interpretations may bring, that is not saying that I don’t hold that they really happened to these people, it is just a check point on imagination,,, but I can’t see where you can justify that we all go to the same place when we die when clearly the basic elements are in stark contrast. Since I find your rationalizations to this matter to be extremely superfluous, The only thing that makes sense to me is that your pantheistic view of reality must be false!

  93. 93

    Come on, Bornagain! Either the Thai NDEs are a trustworthy warrant for the truth or they are not. If they are, then we should all immediately convert to Thai Buddhism, become vegetarians, and start meditating. If they are not, then there is no reason to believe in the existence of Hell based on them. Talk about wanting to have your cake and eat it too!

  94. Bruce David, I do indeed trust the Thai NDEs as a ‘trustworthy warrant for truth’ as far as the basic elements are concerned!!!

    ,,,and yet you mysteriously state this,,,

    ‘then we should all immediately convert to Thai Buddhism, become vegetarians, and start meditating.’

    Why in the world would I want to do that???? Especially when meditating and vegetarianism is apparently not keeping anybody out of hell over there??? That is the whole point Bruce, they DON’T HAVE ANY extremely pleasant NDEs to report over there, as is typical for Judeo-Christian cultures.,,, Why in the world would I want to give up the ‘amazing grace’ that Christ has wrought for me, that apparently leads to such indescribably beautiful NDEs here, in favor of the futile works of Thai Buddhism that apparently has no impact whatsoever on the negative ‘landscape of the NDEs’ in Thailand. No Sir Bruce, I’ll place my trust on the sure foundation that Christianity provides!!!

  95. Speaking of being in a Judeo-Christian culture Bruce, you may enjoy this:

    Carrie Underwood with Vince Gill How Great thou Art – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLLMzr3PFgk

  96. 96

    Bornagain:

    “Bruce David, I do indeed trust the Thai NDEs as a ‘trustworthy warrant for truth’ as far as the basic elements are concerned!!!”

    Apparently what you mean by “basic elements” are whatever you already believe is true, and what are not “basic elements” are whatever you don’t.

    Your argument from Thai NDEs is a fine example of invoking the one fact that supports your case and ignoring all those that damage it. Don’t expect anyone who doesn’t already agree with you to buy it.

  97. Bruce, now let me get this straight, I judge all NDEs fairly across the board for basic ‘landscape elements’, no matter what culture they are in. By using a standard ‘basic landscape element’ criterion, I find Judeo-Christian Culture NDEs to be typically extremely pleasant and extremely desirable. Yet by using the same exact ‘basic landscape’ criterion, I find ALL foreign culture NDEs to be either somewhat blandish and weird, to being terrifyingly hellish. Neither of which do I find desirable. But even though I have tried my best to be fair in measure of the parameters, you think I’m being biased??? OK Bruce, since you don’t trust my judgement in this matter, Please tell me exactly which culture you would prefer. Would you rather experience the typical Judeo-Christian NDE or would you rather experience the typical Thai Buddhist NDE??? For myself, it is not even a question, the typical Judeo-Christian NDE is by far the best choice, but I don’t know perhaps you would choose different;

    Although I like this whole following documentary, I particularly like this guy’s testimony at the 4:55 minute mark of the part of the video I have listed. He talks of the powerful transformation that occurred in his life after he was in the presence of God (the Light) during his NDE;

    The Day I Died – 5/6
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdNXSdYRU_U

    -

    here is the start of the entire 1 hour documentary;

    The Day I Died NDE Consciousness Pt1 of 6.flv
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es9u6oi3El8

  98. 98

    Bornagain, re #97

    You just don’t get it. Either the foreign NDEs are a reliable window into the truth, or they are not. You don’t like them. Neither do I. However, it is faulty logic to select only the parts that agree with your worldview and say, well, that proves my worldview is correct and ignore all the elements that contradict your worldview. You want to have it both ways–the parts you agree with are reliable and those that you don’t aren’t. The parts that are Hellish must be true (except of course for those aspects that disagree with Christianity, like the fact that their Hell isn’t eternal) but the parts that are Buddhist can’t be.

    My view is that the ENTIRE Thai NDE experience is a result of very strong beliefs regarding the afterlife and what effects actions while living will have on their experience after death. That includes their experience of Hell, their experience of Heaven, AND all of the Buddhist doctrine as well.

    I submit that my explanation is logically consistent. Yours is not.

  99. Bruce,

    “Since the concept of number is not an actual physical thing, but a concept (ie, mental thing) abstracted from the physical, it is as real for me as it is for you, even though it is not grounded in an externally existing reality.

    But this is a problem. If you are speaking of something, anything, abstract, you will need to describe it using physical, concrete things (or some other abstract concepts that are already understood and are grounded in physical things). But if those physical, concrete things are not even real, it is like saying your abstract idea is like nothing. If your abstract idea is like nothing, then the abstract idea is nothing, as I pointed out with bungabulyer.

    Bottom line for my argument: If the physical isn’t real, we have no warrant to think of anything as real. If that which we perceive as the most real is discarded as inauthentic, then where is the justification for regarding the things we perceive as less tangible to actually be authentic? It is completely arbitrary. It is the ultimate form of selective hyperskepticism. That which we can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell is not real, but that which we cannot is actually real? Where is the justification for such a position? It is completely arbitrary.

  100. 100

    Brent, re. #99

    Basically, your argument just doesn’t convince me. I simply don’t buy it.

    Consciousness is real to me. Joy is real. Love is real. Creativity and imagination are real. My experience is real. The physical universe is not. For me this simply isn’t a problem. I have ideas of number and many other mathematical concepts that are real in the realm of ideas. To me they are no less real because they are abstractions from the virtual reality in which I now temporarily reside rather than an externally existing physical reality.

    When I die I expect to enter a realm that has no physical existence at all, not even as virtual reality, and those who have experienced it and returned to tell about it (NDEs) often say that it is far more real to them than this so called reality we presently inhabit. That is enough for me.

  101. Bruce David, your view is not logically consistent for the simple fact that their reincarnation (Buddhist/Pantheist) philosophy is in fact THE very philosophy that led them to hell in the first place!!!! So what if they are assured by the yamamoots (who I associate with demons) that they will be reincarnated into a endless cycle of trying to be worthy enough to attain paradise?!? The WHOLE POINT Bruce is that they consistently DO NOT have heavenly experiences, as is typical for Judeo-Christian NDEs. ,,,, So thus Bruce even if I held that the reincarnation interpretations, which were imposed on top of the NDE landscapes, were true, it still would do nothing as to alter the fact that you got severe problems in your ‘all is god’ pantheistic philosophy for accounting for the drastic differences in the afterlife accounts in the first place!!! Like I said before the only way to logically account for the drastic differences of NDEs is if the Pantheistic metaphysics is false in its premises. Bruce you can’t have your cake and eat it to! i.e. You yourself have admitted that the Thai NDEs are unpleasant/undesirable compared to Judeo-Christian ones, so thus you cannot also hold that your pantheism is superior to Judeo-Christianity!!!

  102. 102

    Bornagain:

    You can believe what you want. I can’t, nor do I want to, stop you.

    I’ll tell you something, though. If you really want to have an influence on people to move them toward your Christian point of view, I would seriously consider shutting up about the NDEs. The logic is flawed in at least two ways: 1) it cherry picks the data, as I have pointed out, and 2) you ignore the fact that that people of ALL religious points of view, including atheism, have positive NDEs, both in the West and in other cultures. If your version of Christianity were actually true, then Christians would experience Heaven and EVERYONE ELSE, no matter where they lived would experience Hell.

    Your attempting to prove your point by invoking NDEs only makes you look foolish to anyone with an open mind on the issue, and seriously impairs your credibility.

  103. Bruce David, now it seems your ‘inner knowing’ means you are also free to make up evidence. For you state:

    ‘you ignore the fact that that people of ALL religious points of view, including atheism, have positive NDEs, both in the West and in other cultures.’

    Exactly where have I ‘ignored’ this??? In fact I have listed all the foreign studies I could find which all show a consistent lack of ‘heavenly attributes’ which are so typical of Judeo-Christian NDEs! Whereas you have listed zero studies of foreign culture NDEs!!! If you have a foreign NDE study so as to back up your claim that they have heavenly NDEs then produce it, But do not make up your own evidence to suit your own purpose!!! Bruce here is a site that has all the major NDE websites listed on it;

    http://www.near-death.com/links.html

    You can dig through the sites as much as you want, as I have done, and you find a extreme rarity of foreign culture NDEs that are anything like the overwhelming beautiful ones we see here in our Judeo-Christian cultures.,,, Of the very few individual foreign NDEs that I have found that mention God i.e. ‘the Light’, they are exclusively those NDEs of children. It seems there is indeed a age of accountability that seems to be at play, as many Christian churches teach!!!

    further notes:

    Near-Death Experiences of Hindus
    Pasricha and Stevenson’s research
    http://www.near-death.com/hindu.html

  104. Bruce David, To be crystal clear, I am extremely glad that many of those who claim to be atheists, and new agers, in Judeo-Christian cultures, are not going to hell! Yet then again I am extremely upset that many of the people from pantheistic cultures are experiencing hell. The problem for you in all this is that your pantheism cannot possibly account for the stark differences! Whereas the fact that a professed atheist, or new ager, in a Judeo-Christian culture, is indoctrinated, as they are growing up, with Christmas, Easter, One Nation Under God,, etc.. etc.., does lend strong plausibility that their NDEs, whether they are aware of the fact or not, are strongly influenced by deeply ingrained Judeo-Christian beliefs as they were growing up.

    Case in point Bruce. Howard Storm was a a professed atheist, who was a university professor, He died and went to hell. Yet it was his belief in Christ that he held as a child that ultimately saved him from hell! You may see his entire interview here:

    Howard Storm “My decent into Hell” Best NDE ever! (full intervew)
    1:50:17 – 2 years ago
    Interview with former atheist, professor and chairman of the art department at the Northern Kentucky University. Howard Storm died and found himself in HELL, conversed with Jesus who answered Storm’s difficult questions. Today Howard Storm is a Senior Pastor of Covington United Church of Christ.
    http://video.google.com/videop.....814040004#

  105. 105

    Bornagain,

    Not going to take my advice, eh? It’s your funeral. I’m done with the NDE discussion.

  106. Bruce David you state, Not going to take my advice, eh? It’s your funeral. I’m done with the NDE discussion.

    But Bruce, I await all your evidence that testifies that foreign cultures have positive NDEs. I have honestly scoured the web looking for such evidence and can’t find any rigorous NDE studies to back up your pantheistic claims. The sheer absence of heavenly NDE studies for foreign pantheistic cultures should make you severely question whether your rejection Christ as Lord is wise or not! Here is another interesting tidbit, relating NDEs to Christ, for you to chew on Bruce;

    ,,,This following recent video revealed a very surprising holographic image that was found on the Shroud:

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words ‘The Lamb’ – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041205

    Even with the advantage of all our advanced space-age technology at their fingertips, all scientists can guess is that it was some type of electro-magnetic radiation (light) which is not natural to this world. Kevin Moran, a scientist working on the mysterious ’3D’ nature of the Shroud image, states the ‘supernatural’ explanation this way:

    “It is not a continuum or spherical-front radiation that made the image, as visible or UV light. It is not the X-ray radiation that obeys the one over R squared law that we are so accustomed to in medicine. It is more unique. It is suggested that the image was formed when a high-energy particle struck the fiber and released radiation within the fiber at a speed greater that the local speed of light. Since the fiber acts as a light pipe, this energy moved out through the fiber until it encountered an optical discontinuity, then it slowed to the local speed of light and dispersed. The fact that the pixels don’t fluoresce suggests that the conversion to their now brittle dehydrated state occurred instantly and completely so no partial products remain to be activated by the ultraviolet light. This suggests a quantum event where a finite amount of energy transferred abruptly. The fact that there are images front and back suggests the radiating particles were released along the gravity vector. The radiation pressure may also help explain why the blood was “lifted cleanly” from the body as it transformed to a resurrected state.”
    http://www.shroudstory.com/natural.htm

    If scientists want to find the source for the supernatural light which made the “3D – photographic negative” image I suggest they look to the thousands of documented Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) in Judeo-Christian cultures. It is in their testimonies that you will find mention of an indescribably bright ‘Light’ or ‘Being of Light’ who is always described as being of a much brighter intensity of light than the people had ever seen before. All people who have been in the presence of ‘The Being of Light’ while having a deep NDE have no doubt whatsoever that the ‘The Being of Light’ they were in the presence of is none other than ‘The Lord God Almighty’ of heaven and earth.

    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The NDE of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

    ————-

    further note:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life! – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Front and Back 3-D images – articles and videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

    Another very interesting point about the Shroud is, since the Shroud had to be extremely close to the body when the image was made, and also considering the lack of any distinctive shadow patterns on the image, it is apparent the only place this supernatural light could have possibly come from, that made the image on the Shroud, was directly from the body itself ! Yes, you read that last sentence right:

    THE SOURCE OF LIGHT WAS THE BODY ITSELF !!!

    God’s crowning achievement for this universe was not when He created this universe. God’s crowning achievement for this universe was when He Himself inhabited the human body He had purposely created the whole universe for, to sanctify human beings unto Himself through the death and resurrection of his “Son” Jesus Christ. This is truly something which should fill anyone who reads this with awe. The wonder of it all is something I can scarcely begin to understand much less write about. Thus, I will finish this portion of my paper with a scripture.

    Hebrews 2:14-15
    “Since we, God’s children, are human beings – made of flesh and blood – He became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could He die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could He deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread.”

  107. Bruce,

    “Consciousness is real to me. Joy is real. Love is real. Creativity and imagination are real. My experience is real. The physical universe is not. For me this simply isn’t a problem.”

    Explain consciousness, joy, love, creativity, and imagination to me. You will have to do it by invoking the physical, concrete world. To you, the physical, concrete world isn’t real, but virtual. At best, then, consciousness, joy, love, creativity, and imagination are only virtual. They are not real, either. Nothing is real. This most certainly, I assert, is a problem for you. As you’ve suggested to BA77 to not speak of NDEs, I suggest to you not to say that a virtual reality doesn’t present a problem for you. Please think about this argument of mine for a while. I think it’s better than it may seem at first. I’m sorry that I can’t explain it as rigorously as is perhaps needed for you to get the significance more easily.

    Let me now, possibly, confuse the issue further. I do believe in the physical, concrete universe as real. It isn’t just an illusion. However, being a Christian, I can say, also, that the spiritual realm is even more real than the physical. More real, in this sense, however, isn’t to be taken to mean that the physical is “less” real, but that it is less important. The physical, ultimately, really derives its significance from the spiritual, and not the other way around. I submit to you, though, that the spiritual reality, in some sense, needs the physical reality, just as a baseball game needs a place to be played. The game itself may be more important than the field, but the game still needs the field in order to be played. The players are the most important part of the game, but without bats, balls, and gloves, the players cannot play. Likewise, without a physical, concrete reality, the spiritual has “no place to play”. Love, without a concrete reality, has no place to act out its romance; joy has nothing to jump up and down on, and consciousness has nothing to wake up to.

  108. Brent, very well put. The word ‘Illusion’ gets tossed around much too freely when dealing with physical reality in the light of quantum mechanics. I think you have nailed the subtlety of the problem in using the word ‘illusion’ in such a broad context on its head. If you don’t mind, I’ll store your post somewhere for future reference.

  109. 109

    Brent: “Explain consciousness, joy, love, creativity, and imagination to me. You will have to do it by invoking the physical, concrete world.”

    In my view, these words are symbols that refer to basic elements of our experience. I know what love is because I have experienced it. The same with the others. There is no explaining them beyond that. And in my reality, they exist on their own, without reference to anything else. They are EXPRESSED in the physical world as I experience it, but the fact that to me that world has no independent existence outside of consciousness is completely irrelevant to their existence. For example, the fierce joy that accompanies my experience of oneness with all that is simply does not depend on the universe having independent existence. Sorry, I just don’t agree with your premise, as I have said.

    “Likewise, without a physical, concrete reality, the spiritual has ‘no place to play’. Love, without a concrete reality, has no place to act out its romance; joy has nothing to jump up and down on, and consciousness has nothing to wake up to.”

    I would agree, only I would replace the word, “concrete” with the word, “virtual”. What I keep trying to convey to you but which I seem unable to accomplish is that the reality we inhabit is the same reality. I still have others to love, I still have ground on which to jump up and down, and I still wake up every morning to a spectacular world. The difference is how I view that world’s ontological status.

    I would also add the caveat that the realm we inhabit after the death of the physical body and which is described by those who have experienced NDEs and by the subjects of Michael Newton’s two books, Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls, is totally non-physical, yet contains the experience of all these just the same.

    So as a Christian, I assume you believe that you will go to Heaven when you die. Do you then believe that love, joy, creativity, imagination, and consciousness will disappear due to the absence of “concrete, physical reality”, since the spiritual will then “have no place to play”?

  110. Thanks, BA.

  111. Bruce,

    I’m sorry for the slow responses over the last week or so. I’ve been busy and have had some internet troubles I’ve also been trying to iron out.

    What I am starting to see in your position, Bruce, is a major and glaring equivocation. It is so major and glaring, in fact, that it seems it was the thing hiding in plain sight that made it so easy to miss.

    The equivocation is this: Everything we experience, you say, is virtual reality, but by it you mean a real virtual reality, one that you expect people to take seriously as if it is actually physical and real. This is really what you keep trying to bring me back to when you say that nothing changes from your experience of reality and mine, just that yours is virtual while mine is not. But, clearly, to say that virtual reality is real is a contradiction and it is necessary to wrap it in an equivocal use of “virtual reality”.

    Anyway, this is where our real difference lies. If what we experience in what seems to be a physical, concrete reality is, in actuality, only virtual, then it is not real. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, which I think you were saying to BA77 earlier. Reality cannot be both real and virtually real. It is one or the other, by definition. And when you can get this part clear, I think, you must then go back to what I was saying about in-concrete things, and spiritual things, needing the physical.

    To answer your question, I do not think that heaven is non-physical. I don’t think that scripture paints that picture for us at all.

    35But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?

    36Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:

    37And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:

    38But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

    39All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

    40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

    41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

    42So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

    43It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

    44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

    45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

    46Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

    47The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.

    48As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

    49And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

    50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

    51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

    52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

    53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

    54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. – I Cor. 15, KJV

    Our bodies will be changed, but changed to heavenly and incorruptible bodies. Clearly this is meant to be understood as physical, though somehow different from our current body.

    I’ll just add this to my already BA77 length post ;) : The other night I had a dream. Something happened in the dream that made me overwhelmed with joy. Joy, as a concept, is non-physical, but that experience woke me up with overwhelming physical sensations sweeping over my body. All I can say is, thank God for the physical! Thank God for the physical! The dream was virtual, and the joy non-physical, but like music it was able to play its notes on a real instrument.

    As I say, the non-material, spiritual reality needs the physical.

  112. 112

    Brent, re. #111:

    I think our difference here turns on the question of what exactly is meant by the word, “real”, which is interesting, actually, since that is the term that is used in the original post. So let me quote from that: “I mean that which has existence apart from any idea any mind may have of it, and which would exist if there were no mind anywhere to entertain a thought of it. That which is real has being in itself. It does not depend upon the observer for its validity.”

    So my position is that the physical world that we now inhabit is real in every sense EXCEPT that, ie., it has no existence apart from any idea any mind may have of it. If there were no minds, there would be no physical existence. Apart from our perception of it, it does not exist. And I see absolutely no inconsistency in that philosophical stance. As evidence for its internal consistency, I note that a number of very smart, very educated thinkers hold or held that position as well, among them Bishop George Berkeley (one of the giants of British empiricism), Ibn al ‘Arabi (perhaps the greatest mystical philosopher that ever lived), Jonathan Edwards, Robert Lanza (author of Biocentrism), and Bruce Gordon (co-editor with William Dembski of The Nature of Nature and one of its contributers).

    Again, please note that I do not invoke the agreement of these men as evidence for the truth of my belief, only as evidence that it is a respectable philosophical position. In other words, I am in good company here, philosophically speaking.

    Regarding our after-death bodies, there is a lot of evidence from people who have had out of body experiences and near death experiences that those bodies are non-physical, ie., they are not made of matter.

  113. 113

    Bruce David,

    Clive,

    And the hotdog vendor replied, “You already are.”

    And then he cannibalized himself in eating the hotdog.

  114. Bruce @112,

    But, of course, Tozer is speaking of God, in context, just like I am; the most or only ultimately real Thing or One. He doesn’t discount the “lower” reality. I think we are saying exactly the same thing (Tozer and I). God is, in the end, the only ultimate reality because He has His being in Himself. All other beings, and things, are contingent upon Him. But, to say that we or inanimate objects are not real because we are contingent is not true.

    Now, as a Christian, perhaps you would be a little surprised to hear that I don’t believe in the omnipotence of, or sovereignty of, God, at least not like many seem to. God cannot, contrary to popular belief, do anything He wants, for when He declares, “I will do A”, then it necessarily follows that He has limited Himself to doing “A”, and not anything contrary to it. So, I think because of that, we have become, essentially, non-contingent beings. I don’t think there is any good reason to think that God will suddenly undo what He has done. If this is right, then physical, concrete things are as real as anything else.

    But, I’d rather focus again on what I see as your problem. How do you even know that YOU exist? If nothing else actually exists, can you even know that you exist? I don’t think you have any coherent reason to think you can. So, if you deny the reality of the physical world that we experience through our senses as not real, virtual, then you have no fixed point to reason from that even you, yourself, exist. Again, everything is completely and impossibly arbitrary. Anything goes. There is no such thing as contradiction or reason. Nothing.

  115. 115

    Brent: “But, I’d rather focus again on what I see as your problem. How do you even know that YOU exist? If nothing else actually exists, can you even know that you exist? I don’t think you have any coherent reason to think you can. So, if you deny the reality of the physical world that we experience through our senses as not real, virtual, then you have no fixed point to reason from that even you, yourself, exist. Again, everything is completely and impossibly arbitrary. Anything goes. There is no such thing as contradiction or reason. Nothing.”

    Brent, what has my existence got to do with the independent existence of physical objects? They aren’t related. And I don’t say that nothing exists. I never said that. God exists, consciousness exists, love exists, even my mug exists as a locus of perceptions (visual, tactile, etc.). And I exist as a part of God. I am a soul, as are you. My body exists, too, but only as a complex matrix of perceptions flowing through time and space, not as something independent of the minds that perceive it. There is simply no reason that all of the above depends on the independent existence of physical objects for its truth. It doesn’t follow. Where is the logical connection between the existence of all these and the reality of physical objects in the sense that Tozer describes?

    You say, “you have no fixed point to reason from that even you, yourself, exist.” Well, my knowledge of my own existence does not derive from reason. It’s just a basic, indisputable fact, one of those things I know because I see its truth. I have no need whatsoever to prove to myself or anyone else that I exist. It ain’t a problem. Not for me, anyway. (But, I am NOT my body.)

  116. Bruce, when you get wet, how do you know it? You know it because you know what it is to be non-wet, or dry. In the same way, if physical things outside of our consciousness do not exist, we wouldn’t even know that we existed. Where there is no contrast it is because there is nothing to contrast. Either two things are not really two things, but one, or there is just nothing.

    I have more I think I’d like to say, but prefer to wait for your response to this first. And I’m glad you checked back in and made a quick reply to my last. I’m not trying to get in the last word . . . yet ;)

  117. 117

    Brent, re 116:

    Actually I agree with almost everything that you say here. In fact, you have brought to light a very deep truth. We do need (and even God needs) the opposite of something in order to be able to experience it. In my view (as explained in Conversations with God), this is the reason and purpose for the existence of the physical universe. In order to experience love, we need to have some experience of hatred (or at least indifference); in order to experience joy, we need an experience of sadness. (And I agree, that in order to experience my existence I need the experience of something that is not me.) And for God to experience His magnificence, He needed an experience of its opposite. But how could God experience the opposite of His own magnificence? He couldn’t, not directly, because in His transcendent state, its opposite did not exist. So He divided Himself into us, each in His image and likeness, and created the physical universe. Then we all agreed to enter that universe, forgetting Who We Really Are, so that we could experience hatred, sadness, separation, evil, and much else besides, so that we, and God through us, could experience their opposites, and ultimately our and His true magnificence. This is the holy purpose of creation and why what we experience as evil is actually absolutely necessary for the fulfillment of that purpose and therefore, ultimately, seen from the highest perspective, not evil at all.

    However, and this is where we differ, this does not require that the physical universe have a separate, independent existence, but only that it appear to. The illusion of separation is sufficient to the purpose. So what happens is that we experience the illusion (physical reality) as real until we don’t any more (which usually lasts for many lifetimes). But there comes a point when we see the illusion for what it is, and then we can truly be in the world but not of it. We can use the illusion for the purpose for which it was intended, while at the same time knowing that it is an illusion.

    Mystics from all spiritual traditions report that a fundamental aspect of the mystical experience is the Oneness of All That Is. I have myself experienced this in a small way. It is one of my core beliefs about the true nature of reality. However, oneness is not possible if the physical universe actually does have an existence independent of mind. A number of deep thinkers and mystics throughout history and in many different cultures and spiritual traditions have realized this, and for me, they are the ones who have rent the veils and seen into the heart of Truth.

  118. Bruce, I apologize. I’m not going to be able to reply for a day or so again. It’s too late now and I gotta get up in 4hrs. Tomorrow’s going to be a painfully long day. I wonder what you think about pain, by the way (just to give you something to think about).

  119. 119

    Brent,

    Thanks for the update. You are always the gentleman.

  120. Bruce @117,

    I thought your response would be pretty much along those lines. I don’t know if I’ve made it clear enough that my argument is two pronged. On the one hand, if there isn’t some physical universe for our consciousness to act within, and there literally was only “consciousness”, then we couldn’t even know our consciousness. On this we seem to agree. But on the other hand, if what seems to be a physical universe is only a virtual, and not actually physical thing, then we have no reason to conclude that even our consciousness, that we ourselves, are real.

    As I was saying, without contrast we could never detect anything. We know “up”, because there is a “down”, and “dark”, because there is a “light”. But if the contrasting element on the one hand isn’t actual, but virtual, then we have no warrant to say that what the virtual is contrasting is not also virtual.

    Now that may seem incoherent, I admit, for the idea of virtual also must contrast with the idea of actual. So who’s to say that the virtual physical universe isn’t just that, to contrast the actual non-physical reality (which you do)? But I don’t think that works here. What we are trying to get at here is reality itself. Our dreams have a virtual reality because there are contrasting elements within the dream itself. But we know the difference between dreams and non-dreams because we know the difference between being asleep and being awake. Something else, “higher up”, if you will, informs us of the difference of the virtual and actual.

    But you, admittedly, are bound within what you call a virtual reality. If you are so bound, then how could you reason from the virtual reality that there was any “higher up”? In the difference between asleep and awake, we have the “higher up” experience called “awake”, so we have a reasonable footing from which to reason.

    Now I think here, again, you may get tripped up because you can, I think even rightly, say that you do have somewhat of an experience of the “higher up”. I agree that all men have “eternity in their hearts”. We all have an inkling that we are, or that there is, something more. But that, in itself, has nothing to do with whether the experienced seemingly physical universe is virtual or actually physical. It only says that there is also something other than this seemingly physical universe. And, if anything, it would seem to indicate, perhaps, almost the opposite; that the physical universe is “just” physical, but the more important and “higher up”, is beyond physical. But to say that one does away with the other, or the other isn’t actually independently existing (though I think independently should be used carefully here) doesn’t seem to follow. Indeed, it seems counterintuitive.

    So again, if you insist that the physical universe is only virtually existing, then you have no warrant to claim that what it contrasts is actually existing. If you are a conscious being bound within a painting, for example, you may be able to see out of the painting and realize that there is an existence that is even greater than the one you are currently experiencing in the painting, but you cannot see from outside the painting back at the painting, so as to describe the painting in its proper context and relation to the externally existing reality. I think your current position claims that you can do such, and that you not only see the painting in its proper context, but that it doesn’t even really exist. That seems funny to me. If you could see from outside the painting back at the painting which “doesn’t actually” exist, then how could you see what doesn’t actually exist? Or, if you could see it, then by all reasonableness, it does actually exist.

    Sorry, but two more points (and I know it gets hard to respond to so much . . .). If the virtual physical universe is only really a projection of our own consciousness, then aren’t you back to square one in that you then admit that nothing really exists except a universal god-consciousness? But how could that god-consciousness become self aware so as to begin projecting anything? And again, if the only reality is one god-consciousness, then there is no sense in calling it God, or consciousness, or anything at all.

    And the second point, which really is the first because it was made in the original post by quoting Tozer, is that, again, you keep coming back to having to admit that even though the universe is supposedly virtual, you cannot actually live as though it is. If I cock my hand back to slap you, you will try to avoid being actually slapped. In every way that those who disagree with a virtual physical reality live, you must also live. If this is the case, it doesn’t make sense to say that it doesn’t ultimately matter. If how you live does matter in your everyday existence, then it seems to follow that it does matter ultimately.

Leave a Reply