Terminal Velocity

January 22, 2014
Eamonn
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In 1669, seven years after his death, Pensées, a collection of ideas by the great French mathematician Blaise Pascal was published. The most famous of these ideas was Pascal’s application of his skills in probability and statistics to the question, “Should we believe in God?” This work came to be known famously as Pascal’s Wager. In short, it concludes you should believe in God because if God exists, you have everything to gain (not burning in the fiery pits of hell as an unbeliever is a good start). If God does not exist, then you have lost nothing.

This sounds very cynical doesn’t it? But Pascal was not an atheist, nor could he have been if he believed in the reasoning of his own work. In 1654 he had an epiphany, an “intense religious experience” that pushed him from academic to Christian philosopher. Unfortunately, and this is pretty standard when those of a religious stance start applying science to non scientific questions, things fall apart pretty quickly once you start poking this conclusion with the assumption stick. Is the God in question the Christian one? (or someone less jealous, his words, not mine.) If it is the omniscient Christian God, then don’t they know you are just blagging it? Pascal’s answer to the this was that you could cure yourself of nonbelief. If you pretended hard enough, eventually you would really start believing. (I’ve heard people say the same kind of thing about being gay.)

So now that my parachute and reserve have failed, and the ground comes racing towards me at terminal velocity, it seems as good a time as any to chew Pascal’s philosophical fat. In fact, the imminence of my demise has raised many issues surrounding Faith and Religion for consideration, not just for me but others too.

If you haven’t gleaned my position yet, I’d like to clarify for you, but I don’t like defining myself as an Atheist any more than I do an Atoothfairiest. It is a term created by Theists that presupposes a positive. I generally don’t give much credence to anything that doesn’t provide sufficient evidence of it’s existence; I’m funny like that.

At this point I suspect the devout are performing some act of contrition as they atone for sinning as follows, “{Take Deity’s name in vain here!} Is he really going to sit there and start preaching at us? Is he going to try to pull apart the entire concept of God and Religion in some epic, militant, vitriolic and alphabetical diatribe?” Actually, and to my surprise more than your’s, no.

There is part of me that would love to address the big issues and summarise the the work of those more intelligent, scholarly and productive people who have already filled books on the subject. However, after starting that particular Magnum Opus, it occurred to me that rather than try to turn you from apostle to apostate (at least for now), why don’t I offer you a view on  the effects of God and Religion, and people’s attitudes to them, through the prism of a terminally ill non believer.

Terminal illness. It sounds so…final…doesn’t it? For someone who has no belief in an afterlife that must be a pretty scary concept. The idea that I will cease to exist completely. If only I had the comfort of knowing that I was destined to an eternity of heavenly bliss, then I wouldn’t have to endure this fear and hopelessness as the Reaper’s shadow looms.

To the contrary my Faithful friend. It is because I have long come to terms with my own insignificance, my infinitesimal and temporary part in this incredible universe, that I am at peace with myself. As Mark Twain said, “I do not fear death. I had been dead for millions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience for it.”

Of course it saddens me that I won’t see my children grow up, and wouldn’t it be nice to sit observing them from some celestial lazy boy, while splitting a double pepperoni with Messieurs Byron and Hendrix. But wanting something to be true neither makes it true, nor justifies maintaining the illusion. If it helps you, then I guess that’s your business and I’m happy for you. As long as you keep it your business and out of state education, mind.

I would also take this opportunity to point out to many of you of the Christian persuasion that the Good Book doesn’t say what you think it says about the whole heaven thing. It’s pretty vague actually. What you have in your head about Heaven and Hell is probably more to do with renaissance  art and literature than it is with the Bible. Interpretations vary, but the gist according to the former Bishop of Durham, N.T Wright, is that rather than sitting on some fluffy cloud for eternity, what will actually happen is: The Righteous of you are going to go and have a slumber party upstairs at the Big Fella’s place. At some point the noisy neighbour from downstairs, (a Mr Louis C. Fer) will turn up at your former mortal abode and gatecrash the party (everyone else carried on without you). As always these things will get out of hand, until finally the Big Fella decides enough is enough and sends down his son to sort things out. JC and the noise abatement angels will smite verily; and when things have calmed down the Big Fella is going to go all property developer, knocking through his place with this mundane one, before waking you up and sending you all back physically forever. Sweet. (If you are irritated by my trivialisation of the End of Days, try sitting through Schwarzenegger’s.)

You may feel that my irreverence is irrelevant. God exists regardless of my belief in him or not. You know that.

I once posed a question to a good friend of mine who happens to have the courage to completely and utterly believe, in every literal sense, what he has been taught about Christianity; six thousand year old universe and all. I asked him thusly, “You see me walking down the street wearing a set of those ridiculous and overpriced Beats headphones, having my ears assaulted and my brain corrupted by Norwegian Black Metal at full volume. As I cross the street you spot Sandra Bullock desperately wrangling a bus doing just over 50 mph, inexorably headed towards a completely oblivious me. You have no doubt that the only possible result is that I will be smeared terminally and gratuitously across her windscreen (this is a 15 rated ethical scenario). That is unless you offer your direct immediate physical intervention; possibly even taking my place under the scythe. What do you do?”

As stated earlier, despite our theological (that word always cracks me up) differences, this man is not only a good friend, but a Good friend. Of course we both knew his answer. He would dive an inordinate distance through the air in slow motion pushing the unsuspecting me clear of the oncoming Bullock. He looked a bit concerned at this point, until I informed him that he too had cleared the danger. It was the least I could do; the man saved my life.

The point of this rather elaborate alternate reality was to highlight that, as an unbeliever, in his genuine opinion I am destined to go straight to Hell. Do not pass through Purgatory. Do not purchase 200 years Indulgence from the Pope. Hell. You know the Hieronymous Bosch Hell. Fiery, scary, tortured by demons forever, Hell.

Could he now explain to me why, despite being prepared to risk hypothetical life and limb to save me from a hypothetical bus driven by an until recently underrated actress, he and the rest of my supposedly Faithful friends, were doing nothing to save me from my very real and imminent Eternal Damnation?

“You aren’t likely to listen are you? By preaching to you I’d probably only push you further away.” Was his feeble excuse that happens to be absolutely correct. But still! Fucking try for for fuck’s sake!

Still at the very least I know that my religiously observant friends and family have prayed for me. Prayed for a medical miracle; prayed for my spiritual well being. And I know that they have done so with with love, so I thank them for their regards. I think though that these supernatural pleas to interrupt the laws of science, laws their Creator so painstakingly put into place, for the benefit of a middle class white guy from England, probably does more for the prayer than the prayee.

In fact in Dick Dawkins’ God Delusion, he refers to a 2006 scientific “Study of the therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients”, funded by the pro religious Templeton Foundation (every year they try to be more noble than Nobel by offering a £1.1m prize to scientists or philosophers who are “entrepreneurs of the spirit – outstanding individuals who have devoted their talents to expanding our vision of human purpose and ultimate reality.”)

In this $2.4m study, apparently scientific methods, including double blind control groups, were used to assess the beneficial effect on those patients subject to the prayers (or not) of congregations of churchgoers. What it actually showed was that there was no increase in the recovery rates of patients regardless of if they were prayed for or not, if they did not know they were being prayed for. A third group that was prayed for and were told so did see a change in the rates of recovery. It went down. Maybe the whole study was flawed in it’s concept and assumptions. If he exists, maybe God was pissed off at being measured and took it out on the patients; or maybe those patients suffered from what Dawkins refers to as “performance anxiety”?

Moreover though, on the Power of Prayer. I’d like to make a request now. If you genuinely think your divine petitions can possibly have any effect. Please, and thrice please, can you stop praying for people you know like me and start dismounting War, Famine, Disease and accompanying Death for the poor and deprived of the world. The seven million Syrians displaced, killed, or starving. The six million children affected by the recent typhoon in the Philippines. You probably already do because you are a good person, but reallocate that extra credit you’ve been using up on me. If nothing else, it’s just embarrassing for the atheist with the kickass home cinema system.

The last cheerful area I’d like to address where Religion has affected me in my terminally ill status is the uncomfortable subject of assisted suicide. Before I say another word, I have no intention of further foreshortening my already foreshortened life. This topic has been particularly newsworthy of late as it has been adjudicated upon several times in UK law courts recently. Although apparently the best way to raise the consciousness of the British public is to drop it into a soap opera storyline.

The legal standpoint, i.e. that assisted suicide is illegal, is decided by a legal system that is based on a religious framework. The Head of State is the Head of the Church in the UK. Remember it only became legal to be actively gay in all the UK and dependencies in 1992. Who do you think said it was a crime in 1553 and made it punishable until death until 1861?

Lord Sumption (unfortunately, his initials are J.P. and not A.S. that would have been too perfect), one of the nine High Court judges who ruled on the assisted suicide motion in December 2013 stated that opponents base their argument on the “Sanctity of life. That’s not a question of evidence, it is a fundamental moral construct…and this cannot be ignored”  The “sanctity” of life is a religious concept. (I would argue discarding the question of evidence would be also). As for fundamental moral constructs, should there be anything more fundamental than the basic Human Right to decide the fate of the one and only thing that actually belongs to you, your body?

The particular brand of cult I grew up in, Roman Catholicism, makes it very clear. I kill myself – I go to hell. There’s no room for discussion or mitigation. It is mortal sin. This body, and mind, (and soul) is not mine to do with what I wish . Even though it was a gift from God, he doesn’t give you the receipt.

If my cat has cancer, or a bad cough for that matter, I can take her to the vet and mercifully help her loose her mortal coil. But no, God needs me to go through pain and suffering first, maybe it’s character building or something? At least I have the benefit of being born in the 20th century where medication can ameliorate some of my inevitable distress.

“But Eamonn, you don’t believe in God and mortal sin, so what does it matter? When it gets too much, just wash down a box of those morphine tablets with a bottle of 20 year old single malt and it’s a smooth slide into a lethal euphoric oblivion.” Well yes, I could do that and one of the side effects will be leaving my Catholic mother with the rest of her life to contemplate her first born’s eternal suffering in Hell. I mean, I’ve not been the greatest son in the world, but still.

Ultimately, and as per usual, as I tug at the rip cord one last time (got to check haven’t you?), God and Religion are involved in my life whether or not I want them to be. In fact more than ever. Still, I can always convert on my deathbed and go to the slumber party can’t I? I better make sure I have clean jammies on.

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44 Comments. Leave new

14 billion years ago God got bored and with a click of his fingers brought the universe into existence. He didn’t have any grand plan, it was just an experiment and he was curious to see what would happen.

Inevitably (because with infinite time to play with all possibiliites will occur at some point – Google monkeys/typewriters/shakespeare for more details) one tiny part of the universe produced life and, again inevitably, one species began to dominate and influence the environment and other life on its planet.

This interested God so he began to pay attention. About 2,000 years ago he became anxious that without some sort of intervention it was all going to go wrong for this little corner of the universe which he had become unusually fond of so he did intervene, for the first time. He planted some wisdom in a child with the hope that that wisdom would be disseminated throughout the world and an impending crisis would be averted. Since then he has kicked back and, bay-and-large, his plan has worked.

What’s wrong with that?

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Thanks for your input Cliff. While this topic isn’t specifically regarding the arguments for and against God and Religion; I understand my stance generates the desire to make comment. I’ll address these issues in another, or probably several other articles, but in the meantime it seems that your views on the two, while loosely based on Christianity are another example of how individuals have designed their own God & religion to fit what’s comfortable and comforting to them.

I am interested that your opinion that “…by and large, his plan has worked…” That’s a book in itself.

Eamonn

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Religion is like a martini. The right one for you is out there somewhere. Personally I like the African religions (specifically, the old Ibo religions) that existed before Christianity bought shares in the continent. There was a simple time where people carved little shrines at the bottom of their compounds and offered sacrifices on the altar to various deities. A time of sun gods and rain gods, when chickens would be beheaded and their blood wiped on trees to protect the land from the evil designs of malignant spirits. A time where two goats would be offered, one would be slain, and the other, laden with the stigma of the sin-bearer, would be driven into the bush and allowed to run wild. The scapegoat. A time of medicine men, soothsayers, initiations, warriors and oracles. Here. failure to perform sacrifices would make life unendurable. Every department would labour under imminent threat of possible disaster. The act of sacrifice atoned the sinner for unknown misdeeds, established peace between god and man, and was followed by wild polygamous sex and revelry.

That, right there, is my martini.

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Ikenga, thanks for the insights. I guess it’s typical to see the religious world through the eyes of the local version. Many religions don’t even need a God. I’m interested that the Ibo you mentioned also have a convenient way to shake off all that nasty sin. We have a dog and a cat, I just have to decide which one looks more convincingly guilty.

Eamonn

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I am not religious and I don’t have a religion. You could say that I am anti-religious but that isn’t strictly true, as I do have “faith”; in certain ideals, principles and even rules that I try to live my life by (a paradoxical example being “never say never” even though you have to in order to quote it :-), so I do have “faith” I just don’t have “a faith”. The reason I generally view religion negatively is that there is so much wrong doing undertaken with a religion being the justification for an act that would be otherwise unjustifiable, and I have met so many religious hypocrites that purport to be “holier than thou” and go to church every Sunday without fail and then spend every other waking second of their lives acting like a complete cunt. I have also crossed paths with good people who find life so overwhelming that they really do need all the answers given to them and so find comfort and emotional & spiritual security in a religion, but I am not one of them.
I do share the boring and massively overused view that religion was just a tool to keep masses in check before people, politics and the police took charge. It makes sense that if you can make people believe that if you do something wrong, as massive, invisible, all powerful, all seeing entity will smack you about for as long as they deem fit, and won’t let a silly thing like your death get in the way of your punishment, then the majority will probably toe the line to a greater or lesser extent. One of the unwritten rules I do support is that an individual can have faith in whatever he or she likes as long as it doesn’t negatively impact the lives of others in any great way and that they do not force their faith onto other people, and so here lays my problem which I will come back to.
Everything that I believe has been as a direct result of what I have experienced thus far in my life. I am not ignorantly rigid in my beliefs as there have been plenty of things that I have sworn hand on heart for many years that they are black, but then with new evidence they turn out to be grey or even white. This for me is how my life works, and my beliefs are still directly influenced by my experiences. It does raise the question “well then how can you really know anything if you haven’t experienced everything?” and the answer is of course, I can’t.
What I do know is that I have experienced many, many things in my life that most people have not. From a young age these things shaped my views on existence and the very, very rough structure of being. I can go into detail, but I don’t think that that would be appropriate or helpful at this juncture. One thing I am absolutely 100% (by definition you can’t have more than 100% of anything) certain about is that death is definitely not the end. Believing this with every fibre of my being places me in a difficult position when faced with a friend who is looking at death on the horizon as an ever looming point in time where his existence will cease to be and he will become one with nothingness, and I know full well that this is just not true, and he will of course pass into a different plane of existence and watch us all making complete fools of ourselves as we work jobs we hate to earn money, to buy shit we don’t need. (Ah… Movie References)
So do I become a complete hypocrite and try to force my views upon someone else in the belief that it would sooth him somehow in the short time he has left, or do I just leave well alone and take comfort in the fact that even though he has absolutely no faith in their being an afterlife, he will have to change his mind once he gets there?

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Scottyboy,

What a great comment; thanks for taking the time to think about and share your thoughts on the subject.

It sounds like traditional religion and dogma aren’t something you believe in, but if you believe in an afterlife where our consciousness continues; is it connected to a creator “God”? If so where do you draw your references for this God and afterlife, if not from traditional religious sources?

I completely respect your desire to keep the details of your life experience private, although I am intrigued, especially considering your clearly thoughtful approach to the topic, what happened in your life that has made you 100% certain that there is an afterlife. Even as an atheist, I wouldn’t say that there is 100% certainty that there isn’t a God or afterlife (in whatever popular version or interpretation you might mean). I just can’t rationally say that. I can only say that there is no useful evidence to suggest there is. Any more than there is of Bertrand Russell’s hypothetical teapot in space or Dawkins’ Flying Spaghetti Monster, and based on the scientific information we are continuing to build, all of these are highly improbable.

I can only presume, whatever occurred, that you interpreted it as conclusive proof that a “soul” continues after the body biological stops working and consciously travels into another dimension where it spends eternity being very happy. I’m not sure how this can be conclusively ascertained by anyone still living? The only thing I can think is that a living person believes they have been contacted by someone who is dead? (Sorry, I’m probing now!) I am interested (and maybe this is just semantics), that despite your certainty you still use the word “believe” rather than “know”.

As the concept of Religion and God are so overwhelmingly prevalent in my life and death, I feel intellectually obliged to state my position; to declare that these ideas are grounded in humankind’s desire to fill a knowledge gap with something; anything. But in today’s relatively scientifically enlightened world, wouldn’t it just be better to say, “I don’t know the answer, let’s keep looking.” Rather than, “I don’t know the answer, let’s fill the void with a fairy story told three thousand years ago to satisfy the needs of a less sophisticated (I use that word carefully) society .”

I guess it comes down to the old burden of proof. If someone makes a statement it is up to them to support it, not for someone else to disprove it. It is hard to resist getting into the full blown existence of God debate, but here isn’t the place; I will start addressing that subject in another article soon.

All this notwithstanding, I deeply appreciate the sentiment, and the time and effort you’ve taken to pass it on. I don’t consider you a hypocrite for telling what your beliefs are; you aren’t trying to enforce my uptake of them. I’m hugely interested, I want to know what you think and why you think it. Also taking into account your perspective on sharing your beliefs, I am actually very happy for you. If believing that everyone is going to a nice place forever after we die makes your life happier without you forcing that system of belief on others, then I completely respect that.

I look forward to discussing some of the finer points on the existence of God with you when I write the article on that topic, (provisionally titled, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.)

Thanks

Eamonn

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Eamonn

Your response was genuinely pleasant to read and some of what I expected and also some things I hadn’t considered (you were always good at that). I do need to pick up a couple of points that probably need clarifying, the first being that I have no belief in a “God” or “Creator” figure. To take what I have witnessed on numerous occasions and then make the philosophical leap that it was all down to one guy does not make sense to me, it would be like going into an art gallery and thinking all the painting were done by the same person (I’m aware that sometimes a single artist does have a showing, but that isn’t the norm for most galleries). It is true that I cannot ignore the fact that I have been brought up in a Christian country and my views or beliefs may well have Christian influences, even on a subconscious level, however I really don’t believe in a creator, so draw no reference from traditional religious sources as far as that is concerned.

You are also correct, I should have used the word “Know” and not “Believe” as this gives the impression of something spiritual rather than something factual, and I know for a fact that death is not the end. Religion does fill in many of the gaps missing from the factual construct of life the universe and everything, and on many occasions it portrays itself as having all the answers, whereas I clearly do not.

I too share the view that it is better to say, “I don’t know the answer, let’s keep looking.” Rather than, “I don’t know the answer, let’s fill the void with a fairy story told three thousand years ago, etc. So with that in mind I am happy to share details of my experiences and let you draw your own conclusions. I am happy for anyone to probe and ask questions. Most people want to try and attribute my experiences to something that they can rationalise and be more comfortable with or they just call me a bare faced liar, but I know what I have experienced.

Stephen Fry made comment on an episode of QI that “Anybody who tells me what happens after I’m dead is either a liar or a fool, because they don’t know” and I completely agree with him. I don’t know what happens after you die, I don’t know where we go, why or how. What I do know is that I have had enough contact with people that have died, after they have died (sometimes many years after they have died) to know that death is definitely not the end.

From a fairly young age I saw and felt things that other did not, it didn’t happen every second of the day but it happened frequently enough to me and not to others to make me quickly realise that these are things best kept to myself. Every since I can remember I have been able to walk into a building and know if there were any, (erm…… for the sake of convenience lets just call them spirits) lingering about and also if they minded me being there or not. Some were very welcoming, some were rude, some just ignored me and a few were downright nasty. Growing up I had two girls and a boy that used to play at the bottom of my stairs (my dog used to growl at them) and there was also a man with blond hair in jeans, blue tee shirt and Jean jacket that would hang around our back door. The moment you spoke to him he would bugger off down our side ally, interestingly without making a noise. I say interestingly as our gate was standard door size 6ft 6in, locked and rattled like fuck. A naked ant full of helium could not have got over that gate without making it rattle, so I am confident a real, living breathing man could not have done so either.

I have had so many experiences, that it would be stupid to try and list the all in this post, but I can say that they range from sensing someone there, to them showing me images important to them, some move stuff around and/or turning things on and off on command to full blown conversations with someone who clearly isn’t in the realm of the living. As I said previously, I don’t have all the answers, but I have seen, felt and witnessed enough for me to be certain that death is not the end, and I can also tell you that being dead and in some sort of spirit form does not stop some people being just as much of an arsehole as they were in life, so I also can’t promise you an arsehole free afterlife.

I have never committed any of these thoughts, feelings or experiences to the written word before and I have promised myself for years (well decades) to pursue this “Gift” (feels more like a burden to me) to see if it can be honed or improved. This is my “learn how to play a musical instrument” but to be completely honest it frightens me. Some of what I have witnessed has been fairly grim and disturbing, but with that said, deep down I have always wanted it to be easier and have more control over it. So because of you and this site, I am now going to try and get back in touch with feeling I have tried to suppress for decades, and see if it is something I can control. The ironic thing in all of this is I would happily die tomorrow; I have absolutely no fear of death at all, as I know it isn’t the end that the majority of people think it is, and so fear above all things. But a spirit showing me grim images of what they had done while they were alive scared me shitless, go figure :-)

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Notskidsanymore
January 24, 2014 11:20 PM

ScottyBoy – I’m puzzled. You say that you would happily die tomorrow but does that mean that you relish the prospect of an eternity spent playing in hallways and hanging around back doors? That sounds flippant and I don’t mean to be – I am genuinely interested to know why you find comfort in a 100% certain concept of eternal life when I find the idea terrifying and I’m much happier with my 62-78% hope that I’ll enjoy eternal rest when I’m done here.

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Scottyboy,

Wow that is some insight. Firstly, I’m working on the basis that what you have written is completely genuine and not the most brilliant and elaborate bait in the history of the internet. Secondly, that writing it must have taken a huge (and can’t believe I’m saying this here) “Leap of Faith”, so thank you for having the courage to do so.

I’ve thought hard about how I to address this information because I respect it is extremely personal and sensitive. I expect there are people that will read your words and it will provide them with confirmation of what they also believe, that there are spirits or ghosts that are the non corporeal manifestations of dead people that still inhabit this world. I also expect there are people, who would describe themselves as religious who will think what you describe is nonsense. Which I would find interesting in itself as the entire Christian religion is based on a guy coming back from the dead and everlasting souls.

The fact I am a sceptic means that, while I believe that your experiences are incredibly real to you, there are many more rational and probable explanations than that you have been visited by the spirits of dead people. I say this with the greatest of respect and seriousness, but (ignoring fabrication) the one explanation that you didn’t address is that you imagined these experiences, as vivid as they might be. The fact no-one else (excepting possible your dog) saw these spirits, or does so generally, indicates that what you are describing is subject to the observer’s perception rather than the objects visibility.

I also appreciate that having had these experiences subjectively you are likely to be convinced of the “reality” of them more than an objective third party. In my youth I was fascinated by things like ouija boards and was quite convinced of the genuine spiritual nature of such things. Looking back with the information and understanding I have now, I know that there are far more mundane and comprehensible causes for such apparently supernatural experiences.

I am hugely interested in how we humans think and perceive the world, especially through the use of language. Briefly in my life I looked into hypnosis and did a course in it. During that time I learnt that I could manifest false sensory input that was completely real for the subject. This included not only the the visualisation of objects, but also making real objects invisible. I could generate physical sensations of pain or numbness, or even an emotional sense of well being (or if you were so inclined, fear). Ultimately our brains are tenuously connected to the external environment through our senses and the real work is all done in the dark interpretive realm of our mind.

While I’m not suggesting you are living some macabre mix of Derren Brown and The Truman Show, my point is that there are demonstrable, repeatable examples of how the types of experience you describe can be generated under controlled conditions. I also don’t know the life landscape that your childhood was, and life since has been set against; and whether there have been contributors, either physically or emotionally that may have been factors in a more rational and less spiritual explanation.

I believe you when you tell me what you saw, and as I said previously as a rational person I can’t rule anything out 100%, but I don’t believe a spiritual explanation is the most likely or even remotely probable cause of these experiences.

Ultimately, I would investigate them further. If you do indeed have an ability to communicate with the dead, then you are simply the most important person on the planet I know of, and you must do something world changing with it. The alternative is that you are having perceptual experiences that aren’t real, and if it was me I would consider that undesirable and would seek a way to stop them.

I hope you don’t read this and feel that I am simply discarding your interpretation out of hand or that I am casting aspersions, I’m not; but I wouldn’t be true to either you or myself, if I didn’t raise this probability.

If there is any further information you would like to share on the subject, I continue to be intrigued.

Thanks again

Eamonn

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I would imagine that if I hadn’t had the experiences that I have had, and someone told me what I have told you, my first reaction would be to call them a liar (I’m not generally that subtle so it would be more like “you bullshitting twat”). If they then stuck by their guns and were convincing enough to make me believe that they genuinely believed in what they were saying, I would either try to find an alternate plausible explanation for each of their experiences or failing that, urge them to seek psychological help and quickly, so I thank you for not doing either. I haven’t spoken to many people about my experiences and have had understandably mixed reactions when I have. I don’t expect anyone to take what I say as gospel, and completely understand when people stare at my nose to see if it grows as I answer questions on the subject (and I already have a fairly big nose), so I completely understand people’s scepticism and encourage people to ask questions so I can answer them as honestly as I can.

In response to Notskidsanymore, you raise an absolutely valid point although there is a smidgen of Reductio ad absurdum in they way you make it. I have absolutely no idea why a small number of spirit’s hang around geographical locations and the overwhelming majority bugger off somewhere else, and before you ask “No” I have no idea where the somewhere else is, what it is, or what it looks like, but I would like to think that when I do pass over, that that is where I will be heading, as I don’t have any interest in hanging around the bottom of my stairs or around my old backdoor.
The experiences I spoke about in my earlier post were a couple of examples from my childhood and only the tip of the iceberg. I still have them from time to time, and as far as I can tell will continue to do so.

Now to address some of Eamonn’s comments, I suppose I should start by pointing out that I am not alone in my perception of spirits. Some of the strange and interesting events in my life have been simultaneously witnessed by others. Even my other half was a complete sceptic and total non-believer (see even the person closest to me spent years thinking I was talking total bollocks) right up until the time a friend of a hers committed suicide and got in contact the night after, and in doing so frightened the shit out of her, but also made her realise that death doesn’t have to be a barrier to communication.

I also do believe in the recycling of souls, mostly because the alternative (you have a life on earth and then spend eternity in the spirit world) would be unworkable. Many people claim to have had a past life, unfortunately the majority of these claims come from people who say they were a King, Queen, Emperor, Knight or some other kind of glamorous or famous person. It seems that no one ever says that they were previously a 13th century toilet cleaner, servant, or even an animal of some kind, which would be much more plausible.

I am one of four siblings, and neither my sister nor my two brothers have any discernable perception of spirits or spiritual activity. My mother could sense spirits in exactly the same way I can (that was an interesting conversation for a 16 year old I can tell you, up until then I just thought I was weird) and my Grandmother could both sense and see them. I have four children and the first three are just like my brothers and sisters, however the youngest is as spiritually perceptive as my Grandmother, and it scares him. One of the reasons I purchased my house was because there is no spiritual activity there and so my youngest is comfortable there as he is not constantly hassled. I don’t know if spiritually sensitive people are easy to identify from the other side, but it would seem so as spirits can latch onto you and be a pain in the arse trying to get your attention and communicate. Now this must be especially difficult and frustrating for them as I have spent most of my life trying not to let them communicate with me and even when I am making the effort most of the time all I can do is see images that they show me and feel their emotions, this is not a lot to go on especially when a spirit suddenly latches on to you and bombards you with images and emotions, and I have to tell them that “I cannot see or hear them”. I would imagine it takes a monumental effort to communicate, and then I let them down by being weak, unskilled and unpractised, very frustrating for both parties. My son however sees it all and he doesn’t like it at all. He is not emotionally or psychologically strong enough to communicate so I have instructed him to let them know he can’t help them and they eventually leave him alone.

To give you a real life example of a spirit communicating with me, whilst on holiday on the Isle of White, I visited Appuldurcombe house. Appuldurcombe House is the shell of a large 18th-century baroque country house of the Worsley family, situated near Wroxall. It had been acquired by the national trust and was very slowly being renovated (I think they had two whole rooms done when I visited, lol). Now the (at this stage in our relationship very non-believing) misses and I visited on a beautiful and bright summers day, we walked around the building and the grounds and it was all very picturesque and relaxing. As we meandered around, reading the interesting and historical fact filled placards (there were a few other holiday makers doing much the same) and we found ourselves at the side of the building at an entrance to a basement area. So we walked down the stairs and found ourselves in a fairly large rectangular brick corridor that had openings high up that let sunlight in every few meters of this under building cellar area. I was wandering along not really reading the placards while the other half lagged behind a little reading every word, when I got to the end of the first long run and turned the corner. As I did I was bombarded with images of different women in sever distress and blood running in the gutter at the inside edge of the walkway. As you can imagine this was a bit of a shock coming out of the blue as it did and the images and emotions were very distressing, so I turned back took half a dozen quick paces and then stopped, and while still standing placed my hands on my knees and tried to catch my breath. My heart raced and my mind tried to make sense for what I had just seen. I looked up and saw the other half was still reading placards 15 or 20 meters away completely unaware of the distress that I had just been in and it was at that point I noticed everything was calm, the sun was streaming through the openings and it was as if nothing had happened, so I stood up, turned around and made my way back round the corner. Exactly the same thing happened again, but this time it was even more intense and I also caught a glimpse of the nasty piece of work that was showing me those images, he was actually proud of what he had done and was showing off. Well I turned back again and walked briskly up to the misses and said “there is something fucking horrible around that corner, I don’t want to back there so I’m going back the way I came in”. Clearly not believing me she said “Ok, I’ll see you up top”, so I left the way I came in and she carried on all the way around, reading the placards without incident. Up top it was still a beautiful sunny day and once she had climbed the stairs we walked to the pond in front of the building and I proceeded to tell her all about my experience as she pretended to listen and then changed the subject to something more holiday related. Years went by and as usual I had pushed the memory as far out of my conscious mind as I could when one day the misses was flipping channels on the television and noticed that an episode of most haunted was visiting Appuldurcombe house, and would you believe it, the resident medium (Derek Acorah) saw exactly what I did in the same corner of the basement. I was surprised that it had happened but also relieved by the conformation. The biggest irony in all of this was that up until that point I thought that Derek Acorah was a complete fraud :-)

Take from this what you will. This is just one of hundreds of experiences I have had.
You should already be able to see that I find it impossible to come to the conclusion that death is a definitive end, and a transition from a living being into nothingness.
I’m none the wiser as to what happens, where it happens, why it happens or for how long, but I am sure as anyone could be that it does continue to happen after we die.

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Well there’s certainly a lot to take in there. I appreciate that your initial purpose was to say, “Eamonn, I know there is life after death, and so will you at some point.” and maybe ease some fears or something. You probably didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition (nobody does!), however this is a hugely important thing we are discussing here and while most others would be probably happy just to say, “Okay you believe that and that’s fine.”, or “I agree with you”, that isn’t really me is it?:-) Ergo, what are the logical possibilities here?

1) You are seeing and communicating with people who have died.
2) You are experiencing something outside of yourself that is being misinterpreted as seeing and communicating with people who have died.
3) You are experiencing something internally that is being misinterpreted as seeing and communicating with people who have died.
4) You are making this up, either consciously or unconsciously.

If you’ll indulge me, let’s look at each of these in turn.

1) You are seeing and communicating with people who have died.
As I said in my last comment, if you or anyone is able to communicate with people who have died why has this not been proven yet? Why in a controlled environment cannot this experience be recreated and tested to the satisfaction of independent scientific peer review? What is it that makes this phenomenon so difficult to measure?

From the several examples you have given, I’m still a little unclear exactly how this works. From your description of the events it sounds like sometimes you literally have a person in front of you talking and interacting. Do these people look like the stereotypical ghostly figure or do they appear as real as a living person? Other times, when you resist their approaches you, “see images that they show me and feel their emotions”. From the account you gave at the stately home it seemed like you were watching a repeat of a traumatic episode.

I understand there are many believers who would point to experiences that they regard as evidence or even concrete proof of what you say, maybe at the local pub when Psychic Bob passed on a message from Gran that no one else could have known, or feeling a chill and a door slamming in an draughty house. Your testimony is certainly vastly more detailed than your average anecdote; it appears they are common experiences, and it seems that you have some ability to control your access to them(?). It sounds like it would not be difficult to prove your gift/burden and the existence of an afterlife with all the world changing repercussions of such truth. It would be nothing short of the most important discovery in human history.

There are people who would be keen to help you do this, (it would be quite the boon to their career!) such as Richard Wiseman http://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/ who has a very high profile and is respected in his scientific approach by sceptics.

2) You are experiencing something outside of yourself that is being misinterpreted as seeing and communicating with people who have died.
I suppose there could be many possibilities here depending on the experience; from somebody playing a sick practical joke on you, dressing up like Jacob Marley and going “woooh”; to simply seeing a curtain blow in the wind or something? Although from what you say about the frequency, range and depth of the experiences this would be unlikely, but if you were to engage in a controlled assessment of these events, things like this could certainly be ruled out.

Even as a person who always looks to a rational answer first, I have had an experience that initially I could not explain, specifically an Unidentified Flying Object. For the ten or so seconds where I could not give an earthly explanation, there was confusion and fear, but as my perception refocused, I realised it was actually a blimp that had been lit from within, then it became an Identified Flying Object.

3) You are experiencing something internally that is being misinterpreted as seeing and communicating with people who have died.
Not only can the human mind interpret information incorrectly, it is also possible for it to generate entirely fallacious realties. Based on current medical knowledge, it is certainly more likely that a person is suffering from hallucinations than that dead people have souls and come back to communicate with them. Hallucinations can be caused by all kinds of reasons: physiological, psychological, drugs, illness, tiredness, etc.

A two minute search of the internet based on the event descriptions you give, the frequency and long term nature of the experiences, the familial history; and the one thing jumped out at me immediately was paranoid schizophrenia. I am not hereby diagnosing you with paranoid schizophrenia and I am not promoting Google as a diagnostic tool! But out of interest have you ever seriously considered something like this? If so did you take it any further?

I make no judgement of people who have any kind of illness, whatever it’s nature, but I do understand that mental health issues still hold stigma for a lot of people, and that could make it preferable to believe that dead people come and visit them rather than accept there may be a problem. Unfortunately, from what I read, there are no clear physical methods to definitely diagnose paranoid schizophrenia right now (such as MRI), but there are experienced diagnosticians.

Remember that in some parts of the world epileptic seizures are still thought to be possession by evil spirits.

You mentioned others also experiencing events with you, which would seem contrary to this option, but you don’t go into any more detail so I couldn’t comment further on that. You do tell of your partner also being visited the night after a close friend committed suicide, but it seems you are saying you didn’t share that experience? Again, you don’t say too much about what happened, but I would offer similar logical options. As it seems it was a one off, possibly suggesting such a traumatic event in her life might well cause her to have a hypnagogic hallucination as she went off to sleep or something like that, rather than a long term condition.

4) You are making this up, either consciously or unconsciously.
The last option I could think of was that you are lying about all this. If it is a conscious hoax then, well you know the answer and that’s the end of that really. I would also give you great kudos for the amount of effort and creativity put into such an articulate falsification, and thank you for raising some very interesting questions, real or not.

It is also possible that you could be making it up but not be aware. This is a bit like the mental health option above except to say that it would not be a hallucination; the experience would never have actually occurred. There are several purported conditions, e.g. pseudologia fantastica or false memory syndrome, but from the descriptions of these, the falsehoods seem to normally stay within the realms of acceptable truths. That is to say that if you were suffering from one of these conditions, the lies would tend to be more mundane.

So in conclusion, I’ll repeat that I cannot rule any of these options out 100% (nor can I say with 100% certainty that it is any of these options, maybe I’ve missed something), however, I would still maintain that the only evidence of the first option is anecdotal and has never been proven, and all the three other options happen every day. Therefore, despite your very interesting testimony, I’m still working on the overwhelming probability that there is no afterlife in the sense I think we are both talking about here. If I am wrong, I guess I don’t have long to wait to find out!:-)

Eamonn

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Scottyboy, I totally get you. I see them, too.

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did anyone else find time to see this video ?? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZopmcREtxQ

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Mike, i replied to Eamonn replying to you.

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Well…let’s see.

My best mate died when I was 17 and I had to go and identify the body as his parents and anything remotely resembling family were out the country. Which at 17 years old sort of defines life as you know it.

Before that I’d been through….

Christened CofE, went to RC school and did communion, ended up in a Baptist Youth Club where both myself and my brother were convinced we were fiddled with but can’t really remember!

Anyway, that sort of did it for me as far as religion was concerned that day a whole week after we got back from our first ‘lads’ holiday, ‘Mr Purser? I’m afraid to tell you….’ etc etc though still to this day I’m unsure where they got my number from Matt (my friend) must of had it on him, this was pre-mobile.

So yeah at that point in time I was like ‘How the hell can there be a God when this shit happens’, then as you get old and become more self-aware about stuff, and the general inequalities in life dependent on your postcode on the planet….again you cry ‘How the hell can there be a God when this shit happens’.

Then my other best mate (see above) goes and gets a terminal illness, phew that’s a doozie and once again you cry, I did for a very long time and am currently typing this….’How the hell can there be a God when this shit happens’.

Which of course leads you back around to the point that perhaps there isn’t a God but as sentient creatures there is quite obviously some value in the belief that there is some higher power at the dials of our existence. Faith is quite a powerful thing if used correctly. Unfortunately, like most systems be they religious or otherwise, they are fundamentally flawed by the mere existence of the people who create them.

I’m not sure if it’s a ‘civilised world’ thing or not but Faith in general, sweeping generalisation alert, is a massively flawed concept simply due to the fact that human beings (mostly in the civilised world) are greedy, self serving and…well human…ish.

The reason for using the word civilised, and this is mostly conjecture, what I’ve read and what I’ve experience through my fathers travels. So my dad, upon leaving the police, buggered off round the world to discover himself, and he did, he went off into the jungles of South America and stayed with some ‘uncivilised’ tribes, stayed with native americans etc etc

All of these ‘uncivilised’ cultures had faith (be it in a god or a concept) in something which gave meaning to their lives, and it was a very pure existence (at least how he described it) unfettered by what you and I would consider day to day existence (mortgage, kids, food on the table etc).

The whole cycle of life thing and living by the doctrines of forefathers, the culture of telling stories, the belief in Gaia, or Mother Nature or Mother Earth or whatever but the belief in the oneness within our existence must be quite beautiful an experience to experience. It certainly changed my 70’s kick down the doors copper Dad and it changed my opinion on ‘stuff’ having read some of the books he bought home.

It still didn’t change my ‘How can there be a God when this shit happens’ attitude, but looking back on all those life experiences I had at an early age, religion, death of loved ones and even now when mortality is bought into focus by terrible god awful earth suckingly bad news, all that combined has made me what I am.

I guess at the end of the day whether you believe in some higher power or not it really will make no difference whatsoever as ultimately we all die, whether that’s to bugger off to some spiritual dimension, turn into a snail or just switch off either way it’s going to be another adventure and whether you hold to the belief that there’s something else afterwards, well more power to you frankly.

And if you don’t believe in anything at all religious, then again it really doesn’t make a whole heap of a difference in the big scheme of things. As I said somewhere amongst all of this ramble, like any system organised religion suffers from one massive flaw and that’s the human beings who engage in it, sadly throughout the years the spirit (the irony) of religion has been lost and it’s now just an excuse, a stick to beat you down with, a crutch to hold you up with, a fable, a fiction, fact or life everlasting. There is very little left of the original ideal of religion unless you happen to be living on top of a mountain somewhere or in the back of beyond with only a stick and a smile to keep you entertained.

God bless you all :)

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Mattp

I agree the word “civilised” is open to a great deal of interpretation, but I guess the people who write the dictionary are the same that write history, and those tend to be the ones with the biggest guns made by the highest level of technology.

I suspect that among the “uncivilised” people you mention your father visited, there’s a much finer balance with people living in harmony with their environment and a lower incidence of neurotic dissatisfaction . Still don’t know if I could be doing with all the snakes and that fish that swim up your urethra!

Nor do I know that the “greener grass” of these “savages” needs to be mown by “spiritual” means or if that is just a byproduct of “ignorance”. I also don’t know if I could use “italicized speech marks” more ”inappropropriately” or “often“?

Eamonn

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I grew up in the 1970’s & 1980’s. My schooling was of the state variety, and during my education I was bombarded with facts about all kinds of things that were definitely known about our history, about the world, about the universe and the entirety of space etc, and many of these teachings have since been proven to be wrong. Either the thought process behind them was flawed or the evidence it was based on was either misinterpreted or incorrect. The TV programme QI has had much pleasure in pointing out things we all definitely know that are in fact complete rubbish, however they themselves have even had occasions where they were wrong again. The conclusion I have drawn from all of this is that in fact (see what I did there) we don’t actually know anything at all, and to quote a line from JFK “How do you know who your daddy is, Cos your Momma told you so”. This makes things really difficult to prove, “Ah” I hear you say, “There are many things that are proven to be true”. Well history shows us that certain beliefs are held collectively as “fact” and then a new technology or new evidence comes along and turns those beliefs on their head and a new collective belief (fact) is held, until another newer technology or new evidence comes along that show us that both of the previous beliefs (facts) were wrong and the new collectively held belief is in fact correct, right up until the point where another technology is born or new evidence is found and takes us in another direction again. There have also been occasions where individuals have either theorised and/or experimented and the results of which conclude something completely different to the currently held beliefs of their peer collective, and has been totally discredited for hundreds of years until technology changes and/or the answer is found organically, and then the original discoverer is posthumously given the title of “genius” or being “way ahead of his/her time”, and it also should be noted that the church played a large hand in suppressing technological advancement, however that digresses into an unnecessarily large area that need not be discussed here. So who or what can you trust? Well I would probably say “No one” and “Nothing”, not 100% anyway, because whatever the subject and however sure you are of anything, there is always going to be a level of error or doubt that requires faith to bridge the gap between what we believe and what the reality (whatever that is) is. For all the things we (Humans) know, we still can’t answer the simplest questions about our existence, “Why am I here, where did I come from, where am I going, how long have I got?, etc” and there are no double blind tests that can give us any answers to any of those questions. There are chemical and physical theories about the history of us as creatures, but will we ever know for sure how we came to be? Statistics can be used to compare historical data with measures of my lifestyle and physical health to come up with a likely age of death, (give or take a hand full of years) but I could still drop down dead tomorrow or even live to 100, sp when push comes to shove we really don’t know anything for sure.

So what do we do? Do we spend our entire lives not believing anything because it may turn out to be wrong at some point in the future? We could (In steps religion, stage right) rely on some transvestite in a pretty building to give you all the answers as facts with no proof of any kind. Or we could do what the majority do and look, listen, think, feel, taste & smell our way through life, draw conclusions from everything we come into contact with and hold onto those conclusions as being what we believe until they are proven wrong.
As always Eamonn you make valid points, and as I have spent the majority of my life telling those around me (especially those that work for me) “question everything and take nothing at face value”, and I would expect no less from you. So I will if I may, make comment on the four scenarios you have highlighted.

1) You are seeing and communicating with people who have died. Yes I believe I am, or rather they are communicating with me. I would say that I am spiritually sensitive. I am not a Medium, I don’t see dead people everywhere, and unless the spirit is incredibly strong, I can’t see them of hear them. There have been a few occasions where I have seen spirits and I have had a full blown conversation with them, and let me say that they appear as solid and real as anyone else, however these are rare and not something I claim to be able to do. I can feel when there is a spirit present and from experience this usually only happens because they want it to. I can see images (in my mind) that they show me of things they deem important, these can be still images or a sequence of events like a video of something and can be accompanied with a smell, taste or temperature and will always be accompanied with emotions, I feel what they feel or felt at the time of whatever they are showing me.

When I was a teenager I lived in a house that backed onto the local recreation ground, cricket pitch, tennis courts, football pitches, playground, you know the kind of thing. One sunny day I was walking through it, following the main path and as I neared the playground I saw an old gentleman in his 60’s, about 5ft 6in tall, wearing fairly out of date clothes (what 60 year old didn’t in the 80’s) with a flat cap and moved slowly and gingerly with the use of a walking stick. As I came close to him, he turned and smiled and asked “excuse me, are you from around here?” I said “yes” and he said “is that bridge new?” Now the New River which is a canal that was originally dug by hand in the 1600’s and brought clean water into London, ran along the back of the recreation ground, and the path I was walking along lead to a bridge made out of steel tubes and steel plate and looked like (by its design) it was built in the sixties and was clearly rusty enough not to be new. So I said “as far as I know it’s always been there” to which he replied “funny that, I’ve never noticed it there before” buy which time I was level with him, so I stopped and he said “what about these swings, they didn’t use to be here” to which I replied “as far as I know they’ve always been there”. He seemed a little confused, so I shrugged my shoulders, smiled and walked past him, towards the bridge. I could only have taken two or maybe three steps when I thought “hang on”, stopped and turned around, and he had vanished. From where I was standing I could clearly see over 100 meters in every direction and this doddering old man had vanished. There is absolutely no way Usain Bolt could have covered half that distance required to get out of my line of sight in that time, even with a running start.

2) You are experiencing something outside of yourself that is being misinterpreted as seeing and communicating with people who have died. I totally agree, that this is a possibility. There are four main forces in the universe, nuclear strong force, nuclear weak force, electro magnetism and gravity. The first three are roughly equal in strength however gravity is very weak in comparison. The latest theory from theoretical physics says that the first three are unique to our dimension whereas gravity permeates numerous dimensions (11 at the last count) which dilutes it. If these alternate dimensions exist, I don’t think it is beyond the bounds of imagination that at some point they could come into contact with each other or even have parts of them converge. As I think we have already established that anything is possible because we don’t actually know anything, so it is totally plausible that I am coming into contact with events or echoes of events from other dimensions. I don’t know if this theory explains the contact from people I know that have died, but maybe they go to one of these dimensions after they leave this one, so it still points to death not being the end of existence.

3) You are experiencing something internally that is being misinterpreted as seeing and communicating with people who have died. From the age where I understood the concept I don’t think that I have ever thought I was mad, different yes but not mad, and I don’t have any history of mental health in my family. The events that followed the suicide of a friend of the other half were very real, took place in full view of both of us and went on for long enough for us to convince us that this wasn’t just a random sequence of events. As far as the communication went, she just wanted to let the misses (and me) know she was now ok, and still around.

4) You are making this up, either consciously or unconsciously. Right from the start I had great reservations about committing any of this to writing especially on something as public as this site. As you can imagine, I have been called a bare faced liar before. These are controversial claims to make at the best of times, and would be considered especially distasteful given your current predicament if they were part of an elaborate hoax. Well I believe absolutely and without equivocation, that what I am saying about the experiences I have had, is 100% the truth. I don’t believe for one second that I am that sort of person or capable of such things however If I have unconsciously made all of this up then my conscious mind would be appalled, disgusted and heartbroken to find that out.

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Scottyboy,

Again I want to thank you for bringing your personal experiences to this forum. I find them and your perspective hugely interesting. It’s clear that both of us are very open to listening to each other’s ideas, but as is the nature of humankind, we are neither likely to change our views without direct personal experience or new incontrovertible proof one way or the other (whatever that means!) With that in mind, I’ll save you any more interrogation on the specifics of the many experiences you have recounted in already great detail.

I would like to address a couple of the statements you make in your last post though in general.

You mention the the collective acceptance of facts and how these are often then replaced when new evidence or information is provided. This leaves us in the position of never knowing anything for sure. This is of course very true and is the basis of science as not the answer to all questions, but the questions to all answers.

A great example of this is when the age of the universe was calculated by Lord Kelvin as late as 1897 as being no more than 24 million years old because Einstein still had another 8 years to say E=MC2, but to be fair to him he highlighted that new science could be discovered that could change that calculation. It still astounds me that it was only 5 years before I was born that Plate Tectonics was completely accepted.

You are also correct in saying that certainly western science was controlled and stymied by the Roman Catholic church for large portions of the last couple of millenium. I’m not an expert on Islam, but I am led to believe that religious fundamentalism was also responsible for the the same problems in the previously more scientifically advanced Arab world.

You say, “there is always going to be a level of error or doubt that requires faith to bridge the gap between what we believe and what the reality…is.” and then later, “We could do what the majority do and look, listen, think, feel, taste & smell our way through life, draw conclusions from everything we come into contact with and hold onto those conclusions as being what we believe until they are proven wrong.” I am reading from this that you are applying these statements to the acceptance of scientific fact, and not saying that because we can never be sure of anything we should start filling the gaps with supposition of some great divine mover or similar? (and give them the same credibility without being subject to the same rules as scientific “facts”) And if so, the answer to that is yes I think we do, but only where there is demonstrable, repeatable, evidence subject to peer review; the rest is theory and it should all be challenged constantly rather than decreed in dogma for thousands of years regardless of new information. This is why I ask, if you genuinely see and believe that you are in a position to somehow prove the existence of an afterlife (or also importantly to possibly disprove it to yourself) then is this not something that you would want to do?

And of course there are questions like “Why are we here?” from which I assume you are talking about a “greater purpose” rather than the physical reasons behind the existence of the universe and what we call life. I would suggest this question is only relevant if you believe in a Creator of some kind, which I don’t, who has a purpose in mind, even if it just to be his entertainment or a vanity project. I am something of an Existential Nihilist in this regard. I believe we have no greater purpose or meaning than that which we give ourselves. That doesn’t mean it’s not important. It is to me and those I effect, but it isn’t to some alien microbe on a planet in a galaxy far, far away.

Lastly, and again it may be just semantics, but you seem to dismiss the third option very quickly and say, “From the age where I understood the concept I don’t think that I have ever thought I was mad, different yes but not mad,” Don’t worry I’m not throwing the political correctness stick at you, but what it suggests is possibly a negative perception of mental health and the possibility that it might be a factor. You also say that “I don’t have any history of mental health in my family.” but you mentioned that both Gran and your son both have the same gift/ burden. By definition if the cause of the gift was indeed a mental health issue, then there would be wouldn’t there?

Anyway these were just some thoughts that came to me as I read you post. I’ve not been comprehensive, or remotely even handed in that you have raised some other points I haven’t addressed. You are right in saying we are going off topic on some of these tangents.
Nevertheless this has been a great thread and I’m so pleased you have brought to our attention. I hope you can bring your thoughts to some of the other articles that will be appearing here soon.

Eamonn

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Eamonn – I came across a link to your website tonight when I read the Meso thread on the McMillan website. Obviously I haven’t had time to read properly all the stuff you have written but having “speed read” your various blogs I think I have grasped the gist of your situation. Like you I was exposed to asbestos in a domestic situation back in the early 1970’s but a very recent X-ray has shown that the rib pains I have been experiencing for a year or so are not connected to this. In fact it appears that the pain has to do with over-exercising in the gym would you believe!

I must say I admire your outlook on life knowing what you know about your future. I cannot agree with everything you say and I guess we will just have to agree to disagree when it comes to matters of faith. It is interesting that your exposure to the Christian faith was via the Catholic church. In my (admittedly limited) experience I find that most often those folk who have abandoned their Christian faith are ex-Catholics – interesting…..

Best regards,
Jeff

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Hi Jeff,

Thanks for reading and commenting. I am happy to assume you are feeling well despite your diagnosis; well enough to be over exercising anyway!

I am used to being disagreed with about faith and religion and that is probably the reason I feel the need to make my point here so loudly. I also understand that the ritual and dogma of Catholicism make it particularly prone to driving the ‘agnostic’ one way rather than the other.

There is however, a grudging respect I have for those that stick to their guns so rigidly, rather than adjusting religious doctrine to suit their personal tastes, or those that society has now declared acceptable. I am actually in the middle of writing an article specifically about Religion that goes into more detail on my thoughts on this subject and I’d love to learn your counterpoint once it is up.

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Yes, I must admit I feel a bit of a fraud particularly when I read some of the very harrowing posts on the McMillan website from relatives whose loved ones are dying/have recently died from meso. The thing with me was that I know I was definitely exposed to asbestos in the flat we lived in back in the 70’s but had completely forgotten about it until a friend of ours died from meso about 1 year ago. When I started to get similar symptoms i.e. pains in the ribs and breathlessness, well…

Anyway the chest X-ray shows no signs so I guess I’m all clear. Will not be exercising quite so vigorously from now on!

Yes, happy to debate with you about faith matters (faith matters, yes?) when your article appears. Look forward to reading it in due course.

Best regards,
Jeff

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Jeremy Allen
March 19, 2014 6:05 AM

Mmmmm interesting stuff.
I believe a man called Jesus existed.
I believe he was seen as an “agitator”.
I believe the Roman authorities were largely responsible for his death.
I do not believe he brought the dead back to life or fed the 5000 or could have been resurrected.
For me there is no heaven or hell but simply the good,the bad and the indifferent during each of our lifetimes.
Religion has been a wonderful form of crowd control for many hundreds of years now although it has also been used to engage many to act in the most appalling ways with the “get out of jail free” card that faith brings ie “I am bad,I have done bad things but I believe in God and Jesus”-ask for forgiveness and will go to heaven.A Christian said to me once that he wondered if Hitler sought forgiveness from Jesus in the Berlin bunker and how interesting it would be for a man largely responsible for 7+million lives lost to be in Heaven!!!!!!!! (This could lead to a lengthy debate which I’ll avoid for now but am always happy to discuss)
We all like the idea of the faith safety net,a lovely eternity and the chance to meet others already passed away but honestly the more I see and the more I know I realise the likelihood is we simply stop existing once our hearts stop beating except in the memories of those we leave behind.We turn to dust.
A brush with cancer,or a full head on collision more to the point,is a perfect time to consider these things and for the religious who we know can tell us how happy they are to pray for us.It seems to help them more than those they pray for.Having attended an Alpha course(for those who do not know the Alpha course is run by churches to provide reasons,never answers,as to why belief and faith may help you-simplified!!!) I realise religion is simply an answer to those searching for something,anything.
I begrudge no one their faith or beliefs yet cannot reconcile in my head that hitler might be in heaven because of an 11th hour prayer yet my dear old dad (or any non believer)who just lived his life,loved his family,killed no one etc burns in hell.

Am enjoying the blog-if that is the right phrase.I am cancer free so far as I know but lost my dad to bowel cancer and now my mum is terminal with lung cancer which seems to have spread to the N-S-E-W of her body.Also my first wife had Hodgkins Lymphoma from which she has so far “survived” 19 years post stem cell transplant,our marriage however did not survive.
Cancer creeps into most of our lives if not most of our bodies.It is quite simply Shit.

Two scenarios-1)Terminal man(or woman!)prays for intervention but dies.”god cannot alter the course of nature” says cheery Christian.
2) cancer patient lives and believes their prayers have been answered.”truly a miracle”!!!

Eamonn
Thanks for an insight into your world.I wish you and your family as many good days as humanly possible but ,forgive me,I won’t be praying for you.

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Jeremy,

Thanks for taking the time to visit, digest and comment. It sounds like you have had some extremely difficult experiences witnessing your loved ones go through cancer. I know in its own ways it’s just as, if not more difficult, than physically enduring the disease. I’m constantly reminding myself that this isn’t just about me. My family and friends, but wife especially, have so much emotionally and psychologically to deal with; and at some point I know my children will have to take this on board too.

I completely agree that Christianity, or should I say the Bible specifically, is so full of moral inconsistency and contradiction that I just can’t understand how people can possibly live their lives in accordance with it’s dogma without breaking some other rule.

You’ll often hear excuses about outdated Old Testament concepts, or following the spirit of the text rather than literal interpretation, but these are core fundamentals of the religion.

I have a few work in progress articles at the moment, in the second of which I am exploring why people in this day and age choose to include religion in their lives. I’ve done some initial research and it is very interesting to see the results of surveys of the faithful and how they differ from religion to religion (or even subsect to subsect). I won’t spoil the surprises now but I hope you will find it interesting reading.

Thank you for your kind regards Jeremy, and even more so for not wasting any magic wishes on me. I forgive you and I’m not even a Christian; despite appearances they don’t have a monopoly on it!

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this video may blow some of your minds – it should

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

please watch it – i would be interested in your opinions !

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I keep saying I am duty bound to keep an open mind so I’ll give it a look when I get a chance and let you know my thoughts Mike.

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Oh dear; there is an hour and a half of my life I’ll never get back.

I’m sorry Mike, all I can say is that with the best will in the world, if that ‘documentary’ is the best supporting evidence for life after death, then I am more certain than ever before about the lack of any credible evidence of life after death.

I can’t say it disproves life after death, but it does prove that their are people who are prepared to do anything to propagate such a concept under false pretences or with a deliberately skewed agenda. Frankly, it’s embarrassing. From the sensationalist production values, to the lack of any controlled independent repeatable testing, to the anecdotal evidence, to the parlour tricks, to the emotionally charged and desperately gullible families being used as witnesses.

Just ask yourself this. Why were all these experiences only produced in a cellar in the ‘medium’s’ home? I mean I could sit here and pull the whole thing apart for hours, but that would only add to the waste of my already foreshortened life. These people weren’t even good charlatans; and make no mistake they are charlatans. By the very fact they must be acting deceptively to achieve these minor conjuring effects, they cannot be simply deluded.

The script dramatically narrated by “Britain’s leading investigative journalist” Donal MacIntyre, (I would tear that description to pieces before even going on to the fact he did no investigating or journalism himself, i.e. he was paid to read a script by the program’s producer, director and writer Tim Coleman) described minor illusions as “compelling evidence”, I can show you a man who can make the Statue of Liberty disappear for fuck’s sake!

Calling the program ‘The Scole Experiment’ does not mean it is in anyway scientifically based. I had a gherkin experiment on my burger earlier today (cut cross-section or lengthways). Calling someone ‘Independent’ or ‘Scientific’ or ‘Expert’ does not make them so. Their behaviour, attitude, methodology, and conclusions demonstrated that they are none of these things, and are either incompetent or complicit in their support of the program’s agenda, or just want to be on TV, or want to be paid. The producers simply put together an amateur production designed to appeal to the kind TV watching public who watches Most Haunted and other such cable trash as “undeniable” and “never seen before proof” of the existence of an afterlife in an attempt to draw any kind of ratings.

I’m sorry if this comes off as harsh, but if any minds are indeed blown by this kind of crap, then they won’t require much of a breeze to do so.

Haha, I did say I’d let you know my thoughts didn’t I? I guess the reason I get so animated about this kind of thing is that people like these exploit the vulnerable. They are liars and frauds and should be harshly exposed as such.

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In the name of scientific discussion perhaps we should try and prove / disprove this, all I’ll require are say ten volunteers to form a base group. I’ll need the volunteers to cover all ranges of sex , age’s and religions inc atheists who will then be medical induced to have a ‘near death’ experience, during the testing they will closely observed and have a number of cat scans taken. After the testing hopefully all of the individuals will be able to give a full and frank description of what they experienced.

Do I have any volunteers?

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Yes Andrew,

Keifer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, and William Baldwin. You could film it and and call it Flatliners! Oh hang on a minute:-)

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Thanks for the feedback, it is not an uncommon response

our minds and thought processes are built on ‘belief systems’ and when something comes in from outside our normal perspective it is often difficult to take in

there were a team of researchers and scientists involved in the scole project – for some it is just a bridge too far to cross

Whilst i have no clairvoyant skills, I do know people who have used them and some of the stuff they have told me is quite eye opening. There is NO way the clairvoyant would have known the personal information in advance. The clairvoyant that they used is actually part of the police force and helps solve crimes.

ScottyBoy – i would be keen to hear your thoughts

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Here is something else completely unrelated that is casing a bit of a stir !

again probably a bridge too far for some

http://nemesistv.info/video/HO3SMWSXYK42/kubricks-odyssey-secrets-hidden-in-the-films-of-stanley-kubrick-part-1#

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Hi Mike,

First of all I have to apologise. I have broken my own cardinal rule. While I happily will tear strips off the charlatans (and I haven’t moved on that at all) who are involved in the perpetration of these ‘psychic phenomenon’, in my frustration at their continued existence, I made what could be construed as an Ad Hominem comment about those that believe these charlatans.

That is why I am so irked by these people in the first place, they prey on those who are at their most vulnerable, who for often tragic reasons wish with every ounce of their existence that what they are being told is true. People who use cold reading techniques, Barnum statements, etc to provide evidence of being in contact with a sadly missed loved one are frauds and I despise what they do.

From the hour and a half I gave these people to convince me that there was at least a shred of credibility in what they were stating, all they did was convince me they are using deliberate premeditated physical deception to achieve what are frankly terrible parlour tricks. Ones I might add that I have seen performed and debunked by stage magicians who make it clear there are no supernatural effects at play. These are tricks.

Again I would state the researchers and scientists involved demonstrated none of the minimum standards I would expect of anyone professionally worth their salt. You just don’t do science like that. The one token voice of balance, Chris French of the Skeptic magazine, was given 20 seconds at the end and stated he saw nothing in what the scole experiment had provided that had given him any conclusive reason to believe they were in contact with dead people.

Lastly, as for clairvoyants knowing things they couldn’t possibly know, I refer you back to my previous statement on cold reading, etc. and the the involvement of the police or not doesn’t add to the strength of the case for clairvoyants, just highlights the weakness of the police’s case. I have also seen clairvoyants stating that they are involved in helping the police and then find out that what they actually mean is they have provided unrequested information to the police on cases, and in fact are interfering with and distracting from important police work.

My local pub does psychic nights I keep hearing about and I am sorely tempted to pay the entrance fee simply to talk to my non existent dead relatives.

As a P.S. you’ll notice there is a difference in my response to Scottyboy’s posts above in that I respect that he is not trying to take advantage of anyone. If anything, talking publicly about his experiences has been quite difficult. I don’t believe his experiences are any more supernatural than the scole experiment’s, but I believe he is genuine in relation of those experiences.

All this being said, I’m glad you have brought this here to discuss. That is the whole point of this website, so thank you Mike.

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It is an interesting thing to discuss and not something you can just chat about freely – I have no idea if there is life after death and it puzzles me that religions like to enforce that this is the case.

the clairvoyant story goes something like this —

a friend of mine lost his daughter when she was approx 23 years old to a stroke.

the family went to see her body together and left personal messages and cards

on the way back to the car the mother made an excuse she needed to buy some cigarettes and said to meet them in a few minutes time
she actually went back to see her daughters body and wanted to spend some time feeling very guilty she had been a bad mother. she spent a few minutes there and left. she told no one about this

a few months later they heard of a clairvoyant who used to be a policeman ( he started out working with the spiritual church and was asked to join them )

he sat down and went into incredible detail about who their daughter was / how she died etc. The father was a strong sceptic and went along for his wifes benefit. he gave no information and let the clairvoyant do all the work. Details of the cards and notes left for her were explained in great detail as was the mothers return to the body and the exact thoughts she had at that time !

these are people i know and they are very straightforward – they would gain nothing by lying and the clairvoyant they used did not charge for his services. They are totally convinced that they did speak to the spirit of their daughter.

I am open minded about the whole thing

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Hi Mike and Eamonn,

Seems it is the day of the spectre of the specters! As mentioned briefly, I too “have the ability to ‘communicate’ with absentees from this world”. That said, I think that what passes for “real” is in the majority of cases absolute hogwash. I totally get ScottyBoy’s reticence to talk about it initially.

In some way or another I’ve always just had the ability to “connect”, to plug in to something that exists inside and also far outside me. When I was a child, it was perfectly normal. As I grew up, conservatively Calvinistic, I found out how quickly fear could turn to suspicion and hatred. Rebelling against it was fun for a while, but in the end a perfect waste of time, so I took up smoking.

What was totally natural for me became something I had to hide at all costs simply because it was deemed an unacceptable side effect of a) having a vivid imagination, and b) listening to Bible stories about Moses, Noah, and Jacob who heard voices!

The fact that I for instance knew my grandmother had died before my mom came to fetch me from school (age 6), and made a list of people who would die in the 8 years after my father passed away (me, age 41) [so far there has been only one surprise… the list is being neatly checked off] – this fact is an anathema to most people, and I guess simply because it is so far removed from the mundane. I mean you just don’t get a note “from the other side” together with your electricity bill!

I think most of our conceptions, preconceptions, prejudices etc. prevent us from experiencing stuff like this. Basically, if I can’t put my finger in the hole, the hole does not exist kind of mentality. But in this case, the case of the voices at midnight, I think our science falls far short of “measuring” experiences such as I and ScottyBoy have had.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than the opportunity to prove that what I see, hear, smell, feel, and think is TRUE! It would be such an indescribable relief to not always have to second guess myself, or to try and rationalize, or to try and convince my wife and very close friends that I am NOT FUCKIN NUTS.

Anyhow, I have to go now. I’m a bit tired (actually, i’m very tired) after yesterday when i had a long interaction with a group of them. My mind revels in the energy released in meetings like that, but my body just cannot cope.

We’ll talk again later.

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Hi Jack,

It sounds like what you are describing is different from what Scottyboy has described, (at least in the very brief description here). However I would apply the same logic in assessing the likely causes of unusual or seemingly inexplicable phenomenon.

You have mentioned one thing that, while it doesn’t provide proof of anything, I would find interesting to pick through. Are you telling me you have a list of people who are going to die and in which order? How did you come to this information? Is this list still open? That would be of interest I’m sure, especially if those people don’t fit a typical profile of someone expected to die in that period. Are there any people that you would have expected to be on that list, that weren’t, that did die?

I have to say I disagree that science falls far short of measuring experiences such as the ones you describe. It just appears that those who seem to experience them, are not able to repeat them or demonstrate them in a fashion that would meet standard scientific testing criteria. The arguments I make for and against are essentially the same as above, so I won’t repeat them again here, but if you have some specific detailed example you’d like to raise then I’d be happy to discuss it.

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Hi Eamonn,

Regarding the list: My dad’s death was expected – cancer. But the way in which he died (in my arms for one thing) was very unexpected. He was extremely weak, but cheerful when the next moment he started shaking, or rather shall we say someone/something else seemed to be shaking him. He grabbed onto my arm for support while I held him tight, and in the whole of 2 minutes/2 eons give or take that this scene played out I was “energized”. I have no better word for it to satisfy your curiosity, I’m afraid. It is the exact same physical and mental reaction I get when … for argument’s sake let’s say when I plug into the universe, or get plugged in since I do not always have the option of declining. It was during this period that the first names started “flashing” through my mind.

About two hours after Dad had died I was in the garden, around 3 am. Basically I was numb, and relieved. It had been a harrowing last 7 months. While I was chomping down on a smoke, my dad put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Some of them need to know.” I merely nodded. Then I went in to the house to get paper and a pen, and started writing names as I could remember, and as new ones appeared.

While doing this, my mom, a staunch Christian, came to me and said that Dad had kissed her – she was baffled, but pleased. I nodded.

Some of the people on the list were just faces, I had to ask family and friends to ID them for me so I could name them.

So far every single one on the list has died (including 5 close family members), and there are 4 more names to go. The last one two years from now. He is a healthy, happy, fulfilled man, and still young, about 50. I have told him that the next 8 years (said it in 2008 at my dad’s funeral) he needed to live to the fullest. I also asked one of his confidantes to let him know that life can be short. I would like to believe that he heard what I really said when he looked at my eyes. (He knows about me.)

The list is in no particular order except for me writing them as I had received the info. Some names came with numbers which I took to be the amount of years before they died, and so far that assumption has been mostly correct. Not all of the people died from old age or from expected health problems.

Everyone on the list had some kind of tie to my father, and some of them were tenuous at best. The only surprise was the choir master at my parents’ church. But then that is totally another story to tell.

I hope this helps you a bit.

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Well Jack,

In a similar vein to Scottyboy, it seems you have had at least one very intense personal experience that appears to be very compelling and apparently supernatural. While there are many aspects of what you recount that I would suggest are open to further scrutiny, for what I am hoping are obvious reasons, I’m not going to harangue you on details in an attempt to undermine what is clearly a sensitive experience, (although hypothetically I would apply the same logic and probability processes as I went through with SB.)

As with Scottyboy, thanks for sharing what I’m sure is not an easy thing to talk about. It appears you have the ability, if not to prove, to add to the evidence of the supernatural nature of your knowledge of the future, as there are still as yet unmet prophecies. As you would expect from reading my previous comments on the subject, without what I would consider a minimum scientific audit of this information, I would still consider this purely anecdotal and therefore the least likely of a set of possibilities. That isn’t a challenge by the way.

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Francis Pitfield
April 30, 2014 8:03 PM

Hello Eamonn. I’ve no intention of adding to the debate about whether there’s a god or not as I’m in no doubt that there isn’t. What interests me is whether it’s an advantage or a disadvantage to be certain that this life is all there is. Given that I consider myself, if I may say so, to be basically a good bloke, I’m glad that I won’t be condemned to burn forever in the fires of hell, whilst all kinds of unspeakable people have everlasting life in the land of milk and honey. I’m perfectly reconciled to the fact that once I’m dead, that’s it, and I’ll only live on in the memory of others and the genes I’ve passed on to my son.
That doesn’t mean I’m not scared of dying, just that I’m not worried about being dead, which is a different thing altogether. Given that I’m sure this is my one shot at life, of course it bothers me that it’s not going to run what I would have considered it’s full term. I also worry about the effect my death will have on those close to me. And I’m certainly scared of the process of dying once I start to go downhill, whenever that may be. But once I’m gone, I’ll have nothing to worry about, because I will, as they say, rest in peace. (That’s still some way away, hopefully, folks!)
It’s certainly a bit of a moral dilemma to know that some people are praying for me. Basically I take the view that it’s their way of doing what they can. If any of them are simply praying that I’ll accept Jesus Christ as my saviour, I’m afraid they’re wasting their time. I do believe he existed and that a lot of the quotes attributed to him made good sense. But I don’t accept the status and the powers his followers bestow on him.
These are just a few random thoughts. I don’t wish to offend anybody with a faith, and I’m certainly not going to attempt to “convert” anybody, but that’s where I stand.

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Hi Frank,

I recognise most of the things you say in your comment. I think there is an advantage in having ‘certainty’ in the limits of existence, in that it should promote using what you have for what it is, your one shot. Not that I think it does with most of us until we are staring it full in the face. What do we say about about youth being wasted on the young?

As for the religious aspect, people do wonder why I get so animated on the subject. “If you don’t believe in it, don’t worry about it!” Well I’m not going to jump the gun here. As soon as I finish typing this, I’m off to put the latest draft of my first article on the subject together and will raise those reasons there.

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More likely your just upset that if there ‘is’ a god of some description he / she gave you a face like a baboons slapped arse…

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Thanks for lowering the tone Andy. Unfortunately, I am duty bound to not moderate what is a perfectly acceptable personal opinion.

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my personal opinion is it is more of a slapped babys arse not a baboon

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No intent but sometimes being the ‘thirteenth’ man in the room and offering a different perspective does allow for a little humour… Moderate away Sir.

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Not at all, considering I have seconded the motion in my Vegas or Bust article; a primate’s posterior is among the politer comparisons to my recent appearance I have made myself.

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Recent…

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Eamonn, how do you fancy meeting up with scottyboy and frank to see if something ‘unworldly’ happens – you have nothing to loose and who knows could be an interesting experiement.

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