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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 4 - Who's Afraid of Life After Death? (Part 2)‏

Dear Friends,

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/34657/99999999/1/1/

Be Well.

David


Who's Afraid of Life After Death? (Part 2)

By Neal Grossman, Ph.D.

We might think that, of all the disciplines, philosophy ought to be most interested in, and would meticulously study, all the research on the near-death experience (NDE). After all, isn’t philosophy supposed to be concerned with questions of ultimate meaning, of the purpose of life, of the relation between mind and body, of God?

NDE research has data that is directly relevant to all of these questions. So how is it possible that philosophy has collectively managed to ignore and even ridicule this research? To those outside academic philosophy, it may come as a surprise to learn that the great majority of academic philosophers are atheists and materialists. While they incorrectly use science to support their materialism, they systematically ignore the findings of science that refute their materialism.


And, more surprisingly, even those philosophers who are not materialists (and their number, I think, is growing) refuse to look at the data. One would think that Cartesian dualists or Platonists would eagerly devour the wealth of data that strongly supports their point of view that mind transcends the physical world, but that is not the case.


I would like to share a personal experience that highlights some of the attitudes involved. In the late 1970s, when the early research on the NDE was just being published, I was involved in team-teaching a course with one of the campus chaplains. Excitedly, I shared what I was learning about the NDE, thinking he would welcome empirical data that, at the very least, constituted strong prima facie evidence for much of what he believed in—soul, afterlife, ultimate responsibility for one’s actions, a higher power, and so on.


To my astonishment, he was just as dismissive of the evidence as was my fundamaterialist colleague. When I questioned him about why he was so resistant to the data, he said, in effect, that his belief in God, afterlife, etc., is based on faith; and if these things were decidable empirically, there would be no room left for faith, which for him was the foundation of his religious convictions.


I knew then that the NDE is between a rock and a hard place, because it is not taken seriously by the two disciplines that should be the most interested in it—philosophy and theology. Once theology and religion open the door to empirical evidence, then the possibility arises that the evidence may contradict some aspects of what was believed solely on the basis of faith. Indeed, this has already happened.


The evidence from the NDE, for example, suggests that God is not vengeful, does not judge us or condemn us, and is not angry at us for our “sins”; there is judgment, to be sure, but the reports appear to be in agreement that all judgment comes from within the individual, not from the Being of Light.


It seems, in fact, that all God is capable of giving us is unconditional love. But the concept of an all-loving, nonjudgmental God contradicts and undermines the teachings of many religions, and thus it is no wonder that religious fundamentalists are uncomfortable with the near-death experience.

Strange Bedfellows

One conclusion I have come to over the years is that both the atheist and the believer, from the fundamaterialist to the fundamentalist, share something in common. In fact, from an epistemological perspective, what they have in common is much more significant than what they disagree about. What they agree about is this: Beliefs pertaining to the possible existence of a transcendent reality—God, soul, afterlife, and so on—are based on faith, not fact. If this is true, then there can be no factual evidence that pertains to such beliefs.

This metabelief—that beliefs about a transcendent reality cannot be empirically based—is so deeply entrenched in our culture that it has the status of a taboo. The taboo is very democratic in that it allows everyone to believe whatever he or she wants to believe about such matters. This allows the fundamaterialist to feel comfortable in her conviction that reason is on her side, that there is no afterlife, and that those who believe otherwise have fallen prey to the forces of irrationality and wishful thinking. But it also allows the fundamentalist to feel comfortable in his conviction that he has God on his side, and that those who believe otherwise have fallen prey to the forces of Satan and evil.


Thus, although the fundamentalist and the fundamaterialist are on opposite extremes of the spectrum of possible attitudes toward an afterlife, the extreme positions they hold unite them as “strange bedfellows” in their battles against the possibility that there are matters of fact about the afterlife that empirical research might discover. The very suggestion that empirical research might be relevant to beliefs pertaining to a transcendent reality—that such beliefs are subject to empirical constraint—runs strongly against this taboo, and is thus very threatening to most elements of our culture.

The Purpose of Life

Research on the NDE has yielded the following unambiguous conclusion: NDEers confirm basic values common to most of the world’s religions. The purpose of life, NDEers agree, is knowledge and love. Studies on the transformative effect of the NDE show that the cultural values of wealth, status, material possessions, and so on, become much less important, and the perennial religious values of love, caring for others, and acquiring knowledge about the divine ascend to greater importance. That is, the studies show that NDEers not only verbally profess the values of love and knowledge, but they tend to operate in accordance with these values, if not entirely, then at least more so than before their NDE.

As long as religious values are presented as merely religious values, then it is easy for popular culture to ignore them or give them minimal lip service on Sunday mornings. But if these same religious values are presented as empirically verified scientific facts, then everything changes. If the belief in an afterlife were to be accepted not on the basis of faith or on the basis of speculative theology, but as a well-confirmed scientific hypothesis, then this could not be ignored by our culture. In fact, it would mean the end of our culture in its present form.

Consider the following scenario: Further research on the NDE confirms in great detail what has already been established; many more cases of confirmed veridical perceptions while “out of body” are collected and documented; advancing medical technology makes possible many more “smoking gun” cases of the type discussed above; longitudinal studies on NDEers confirm the already observed behavioral changes aligned with their newly acquired (or recently reinforced) spiritual values; and so forth. The studies are replicated in different cultures with the same results.

Eventually, the weight of evidence begins to set in, and scientists are ready to announce to the world, if not as fact, then at least as highly confirmed scientific hypotheses:

(1) There is an afterlife.

(2) Our real identity is not our body, but our mind or consciousness.

(3) Although the details of the afterlife are not known, we are reasonably certain that everyone will experience a life review in which the individual experiences not only every event and every emotion of his or her life, but also the effects his or her behavior, positive or negative, have had on others. The usual defense mechanisms by which we hide from ourselves our sometimes cruel and less-than-compassionate behavior toward others seem not to operate during the life review.

(4) The purpose of life is love and knowledge—to learn as much as possible about both this world and the transcendent world, and to grow in our ability to feel kindness and compassion toward all beings.

(5) A consequence of (3) is that it appears to be a great disadvantage to oneself to harm another person, either physically or psychologically, since whatever pain one inflicts on another is experienced as one’s own in the life review.

This scenario is by no means far-fetched. I believe there is already sufficient evidence to present the above propositions as “probable” or “more likely than not” based on the evidence. Further studies will only increase the probability.

When this happens, the fallout will be revolutionary. When these findings are announced by science, it will become impossible for our culture to do business as usual—either economically, or politically, or academically. It would be interesting to speculate what an economy that tries to align itself with the above five empirical hypotheses might look like, but that is a project well beyond the scope of this article.

The findings of NDE researchers would mark the beginning of the end of a culture whose driving forces have been greed and ambition, and which measures success in terms of material possessions, wealth, reputation, social status, and so on. The present culture, therefore, has an enormous vested interest in undermining NDE research, which it does by ignoring, debunking, and otherwise marginalizing the research.

I’ll close with a little story. C. D. Broad, a famous British philosopher who wrote in the mid-20th century, served as president of the British Society for Psychical Research. He was the last philosopher with an international reputation who believed there was something to it. Toward the end of his life, he was asked how he would feel if he found himself still present after his body had died. He replied that he would feel more disappointed than surprised. Not surprised, because his investigations led him to conclude that an afterlife was more likely than not. But why disappointed? His reply was disarmingly honest.

He said, in effect, that he had had a good life: that he was comfortable materially, and that he enjoyed admiration and respect from students and colleagues. There is no guarantee that his status, reputation, and comfort would carry over intact into the afterlife. The rules by which success is measured in the afterlife might be quite different from the rules according to which success is measured in this life.

Indeed, NDE research suggests that C. D. Broad’s fears were well-founded, that “success” by afterlife standards is measured, not in terms of publications, grants, or reputation, but rather by acts of kindness and compassion toward others.

Used with permission from the Journal of Near-Death Studies.

Dr. Neal Grossman has a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science from Indiana University, and is an associate professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago. His special interests are Spinoza, mysticism, and the epistemology of parapsychological research.

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SUBTITLES IN ENGLISH, ESPAÑOL, PORTUGUÊS

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MUFON

How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:


Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:




Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.

MUFON.COM

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