What are we to make of experience (especially in the spiritual sense)? What to make of it in the light of the materialist scientific paradigm? How to reconcile them? How to integrate them in life so that they influence our decisions in the right way? It was a fascinating interview, Alex and I got this feeling that some things your interviewees were saying kind of slipped past you, and maybe also vice-versa; I could be wrong about that, of course, but it was my impression. You'd think that after all this time listening to you, I'd know pretty well where you are coming from, Alex, but in this interview in some respects it was like hearing you for the first time, or maybe just, for the first time, registering how strongly you feel about things you've often said before. Albert said it: it's a universe. Everything has to hang together as one, and of course that includes all human activity, not excepting our conception of what science is. For all the fact that to your enormous credit you have embarked on an honest and sceptical (in the best sense of that word) journey of discovery that modern reductionism doesn't have the answer, I wonder: do you have faith, or at any rate a hope, that there's a way of science that isn't completely different from what we have now, and within which the universe can be fully understood? My take is that Albert is saying that consciousness is the Source of All, and it's within our localised consciousnesses that we have what we think of as personal experiences. These are indisputably the only things we can ever say that we truly know, and that applies whether or not they are idiosyncratic or seem to be able to be shared. I say "seem" because what we actually share are our descriptions and interpretations of what we experience, and not experiences themselves. In modern science (as in other areas), it is the conceptions/interpretations that we share, and out of that, our localised consciousnesses create our pictures of the universe. The actual universe, of course, is what it is however we might conceptualise it. Plainly, we can and do conceptualise it in many different ways. And in and of itself, that fact is very interesting. If we think about that, it's telling us that what shapes reality as we think of it is localised consciousness. We might not be able to explain why one NDEr experiences one thing, and another something else, but it's a brute fact that that's the way it is. Likewise, a scientist with a reductionist predilection conceptualises things in a different way from people who've had spiritual experiences, except perhaps when that scientist has had a spiritual experience, or alternatively, through scientific evidence, had doubts engendered in his/her mind. Why should the universe, which all sides agree should be consistent, be thought of or perceived in different ways? Why don't we all think of the universe in the same way? To me, this is prima facie evidence that it's consciousness that rules the roost, and that it's impossible for some particular overlaid concept of reality, be it reductionism or religionism, or even concepts thought of as being "spiritual", to be monolithic even though there might sometimes be broad similarities in interpretation. As conscious, self-aware entities, it seems we are fated to perceive the universe to greater or lesser degrees in idiosyncratic ways. When you ask yourself what Christ conscousness is about, or why different people describe different NDE experiences, a possible answer is that each of us can only perceive actual reality through the filter of conditioning, belief and personal experience. The universe has to speak to us through that filter, and inevitably, it's distorted to some degree or other. Moreover, we have no a priori reason to believe that in any putative form of existence after death, there won't still be some kind or degree of filtering in place, even if it's not quite as restrictive as it is during life. As long as we're still evolving beings, there are still things to come to know, and that applies whether we're incarnate or not. It's as if there's a fog before us which may be very gradually clearing, but has not yet disappeared. We can gradually discern more, but not yet enough to see what's going on with perfect clarity; hence we fill in the gaps with personal interpretation and act as if that is the final truth, even if that truth happens to be agnosticism. Can we still have scepticism after death, I wonder? Maybe. If it's like I suspect it is, that consciousness has primacy, then one wonders if any formalised approach to science will be able to drive the resolution of the big questions. There would seem to have to be a shift in attitude before we could at least formulate a science prepared to look at these questions that we have historically always asked ourselves. Change the attitude, and we can change the way we're prepared to investigate reality, and indeed what we're inclined to investigate in the first place. It isn't a question of science changing, and consequent to that, consciousness changing, I don't think; no, first the consciousness has to change, and then science can be changed to develop ways to investigate reality, including consciousness of course (fat chance if the dogma is that it's an illusion). Only then could we have an effort put into science for which we would be prepared to spend the big bucks that we spent on landing on the moon. A saving grace is that, as we have increasingly taken the prevalent scientific paradigm further (perhaps particularly in physics), we've come increasingly to realise that we're rapidly approaching (maybe have already bumped into) its limitations. If one is an optimist, and I tend to be, then sooner or later, we'll have to change the paradigm to include serious consideration of consciousness as the source of what we think of as the physical. Otherwise, science as an investigative tool rather than a generator of technology will reach an insuperable barrier. One can get very excited at the prospect of a new scientific paradigm that may still not be able to answer the big questions definitively, but is at least prepared to take them seriously.