Mark Vernon, Christianity and the Evolution of Consciousness |415|

#1
Mark Vernon, Christianity and the Evolution of Consciousness |415|
by Alex Tsakiris | Jun 18 | Consciousness Research, Spirituality, Uncategorized
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Author, scholar and psychotherapist Mark Vernon traces the evolution of consciousness.

photo by: Skeptiko

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Mark Vernon back to Skeptiko. He’s got a new book coming out in a couple months: A Secret History of Christianity and he was nice enough to send me a review copy of the book. You can’t go order it right now, but you can go preorder it on Amazon, which is nice.

But the great thing about Mark and the great thing about this book is… Man, he just has a way of talking about these topics that are important to me in a way that I just enjoy having a conversation about. So he’s written a bunch of other books, he’s been on the show before. And I thought this was a great opportunity to have him back and talk about some of the topics that we’re dealing with here in Skeptiko, and get his take in particular relative to this research that he’s done on a secret history of Christianity.
 
#2
Regarding the question of the evolution of consciousness. You asked if we think it is occurring. I would say probably. I think that’s why we are here. I’m not the BIGGEST Tom Campbell guy but for my second straight Skeptiko forums post I need to reference a thought of his. He believes that the purpose of existence is to “evolve the quality of our consciousness.” And that we essentially do this through love and co-operation and by reducing fear. I think it probably does work something like that. That seems to be the info we get through the NDE/OBE/Medium data points. Although they don’t always use that language, they say things like, “we are here to grow and learn.” All the published astral travel guys seem to say the same thing. I think a more highly evolved form of consciousness has less ego and is more concerned about the whole (in fact may not even see itself as an individual), does not readily resort to fearful thoughts, loves unconditionally, and is perfectly content and non-judgemental. This is also known as “enlightenment.” I’d rather seek help from an enlightened Buddhist monk any day of the week before I’d seek help from a Psychiatrist for general depression and anxiety.

What role has Christianity played in this? Well, I think it’s clear that it’s helped it and harmed it. We need not look any further than the Saints for examples of “evolved consciousness.” And Christianity has bred plenty of charity. Of course it’s also held back gay and female rights and been the justification several wrongs. It’s also bred a LOT of judgement.
 
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#3
Has there been an evolution of consciousness?

On the spiritual level, consciousness has been evolving since before the big bang and will continue to evolve after the heat death of the universe.

With regard to sentient life on earth, consciousness has been evolving for hundreds of millions of years.

With regard to Christianity, it has changed human culture for those who have been influenced by it. Although great benefits have been experienced globally not all of the cultural aspects have been adopted globally. So Christianity has changed consciousness in the West but not globally.

What we get from Christianity (linked references below). are the concepts of equal rights, human rights, children's rights, and ethics and empirical science.

The great economic and technological successes of Western civilization which have raised the standard of living and raised so many people out of poverty across the globe stem from Christianity. Egalitarianism resulted in economic freedom and rule of law. Science developed from the theological justification for empirical investigation of the natural science. No other philosophy, religion, or culture was capable of providing these necessary ingredients for the civilized nature and high standard of living of the way of life we have today in the West.

  • Alexis de Tocqueville: "The most profound geniuses of Rome and Greece" never came up with the idea of equal rights, he wrote. "Jesus Christ had to come to earth to make it understood that all members of the human species are naturally alike and equal."

  • Friedrich Nietzsche: "Another Christian concept ... has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity: the concept of the 'equality of souls before God.' This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights."

  • Richard Feynman: The other great heritage is Christian ethics — the basis of action on love, the brotherhood of all men, the value of the individual — the humility of the spirit.

  • James Hannam: Christianity made science a theologically justified and even righteous path to pursue. Since God created the world, exploring how it works honors its Creator. ... the "scientific revolution" was a continuation of developments that started deep in the Middle Ages among people whose scientific work expressed their religious belief. The conflict thesis, in other words, is a myth. ... The Church also made natural philosophy a compulsory part of the courses it required trainee theologians to follow. So, science held a central place in Christian centers of learning...Christians realized it was impossible to work out the laws of nature through rational analysis alone. The only way to discover his plan was to go out and look. ... Given the advantages Christianity provided, it is hardly surprising that modern science developed only in the West, within a Christian civilization.

  • Jürgen Habermas, "Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love."

  • John Lennox: Behind the European Declaration of Human Rights lies Christianity, behind universities, hospices, hospitals, lies Christianity, behind the abolition of slavery lies Christianity.

  • Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry: But really, Christianity's invention of children — that is, its invention of the cultural idea of children as treasured human beings — was really an outgrowth of its most stupendous and revolutionary idea: the radical equality, and the infinite value, of every single human being as a beloved child of God. If the God who made heaven and Earth chose to reveal himself, not as an emperor, but as a slave punished on the cross, then no one could claim higher dignity than anyone else on the basis of earthly status.

  • Nancy Pearcey: Luc Ferry says the same thing. We tend to take the concept of equality for granted; yet it was Christianity that overthrew ancient social hierarchies between rich and poor, masters and slaves. "According to Christianity, we were all 'brothers,' on the same level as creatures of God," Ferry writes. "Christianity is the first universalist ethos." ... Atheists often denounce the Bible as harsh and negative. But in reality it offers a much more positive view of the human person than any competing religion or worldview.

  • Dennis Prager: The pre-Christian Germanic tribes of Europe regarded the Church's teaching that murder was wrong as preposterous. They reasoned that killing innocent people was acceptable and normal because the strong should do whatever they wanted.... I asked Samuel Oliner, "Knowing all you now know about who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, if you had to return as a Jew to Poland and you could knock on the door of only one person in the hope that they would rescue you, would you knock on the door of a Polish lawyer, a Polish doctor, a Polish artist or a Polish priest?" ... Without hesitation, he said, "a Polish priest."

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/03/video-lecture-by-john-lennox-explains.html#lennox_civilization
The positive contribution to civilization by Christianity has been enormous.​
Jürgen Habermas​
For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has functioned as more than just a precursor or catalyst. Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation. Up to this very day there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we must draw sustenance now, as in the past, from this substance. Everything else is idle postmodern talk.[37][38][39][40]​
...​
[John Lennox]​
Behind the European Declaration of Human Rights lies Christianity, behind universities, hospices, hospitals, lies Christianity, behind the abolition of slavery lies Christianity. It is a delusion that Christianity has done no good what so ever.​
Richard Feynman​
Western civilization, it seems to me, stands by two great heritages. One is the scientific spirit of adventure — the adventure into the unknown, an unknown which must be recognized as being unknown in order to be explored; the demand that the unanswerable mysteries of the universe remain unanswered; the attitude that all is uncertain; to summarize it — the humility of the intellect. The other great heritage is Christian ethics — the basis of action on love, the brotherhood of all men, the value of the individual — the humility of the spirit.​
- Remarks (2 May 1956) at a Caltech YMCA lunch forum​
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry​
We have forgotten just how deep a cultural revolution Christianity wrought. In fact, we forget about it precisely because of how deep it was: There are many ideas that we simply take for granted as natural and obvious, when in fact they didn't exist until the arrival of Christianity changed things completely. Take, for instance, the idea of children.​
...​
Various pagan authors describe children as being more like plants than human beings. And this had concrete consequences.​
...​
Children were rudely brought up, and very strong beatings were a normal part of education. In Rome, a child's father had the right to kill him for whatever reason until he came of age.​
...​
One of the most notorious ancient practices that Christianity rebelled against was the frequent practice of expositio, basically the abandonment of unwanted infants.​
...​
Another notorious practice in the ancient world was the sexual exploitation of children.​
...​
But really, Christianity's invention of children — that is, its invention of the cultural idea of children as treasured human beings — was really an outgrowth of its most stupendous and revolutionary idea: the radical equality, and the infinite value, of every single human being as a beloved child of God. If the God who made heaven and Earth chose to reveal himself, not as an emperor, but as a slave punished on the cross, then no one could claim higher dignity than anyone else on the basis of earthly status.​
Nancy Pearcey​
Westerners pride themselves on holding noble ideals such as equality and universal human rights. Yet the dominant worldview of our day -- evolutionary materialism -- denies the reality of human freedom and gives no basis for moral ideals such as human rights.​
So where did the idea of equal rights come from?​
The 19th-century political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville said it came from Christianity. "The most profound geniuses of Rome and Greece" never came up with the idea of equal rights, he wrote. "Jesus Christ had to come to earth to make it understood that all members of the human species are naturally alike and equal."​
The 19th-century atheist Friedrich Nietzsche agreed: "Another Christian concept ... has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity: the concept of the 'equality of souls before God.' This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights."​
Contemporary atheist Luc Ferry says the same thing. We tend to take the concept of equality for granted; yet it was Christianity that overthrew ancient social hierarchies between rich and poor, masters and slaves. "According to Christianity, we were all 'brothers,' on the same level as creatures of God," Ferry writes. "Christianity is the first universalist ethos."​
...​
A few intrepid atheists admit outright that they have to borrow the ideal of human rights from Christianity. Philosopher Richard Rorty was a committed Darwinist, and in the Darwinian struggle for existence, the strong prevail while the weak are left behind. So evolution cannot be the source of universal human rights. Instead, Rorty says, the concept came from "religious claims that human beings are made in the image of God." He cheerfully admits that he reaches over and borrows the concept of universal rights from Christianity. He even called himself a "freeloading" atheist: "This Jewish and Christian element in our tradition is gratefully invoked by freeloading atheists like myself."​
...​
Atheists often denounce the Bible as harsh and negative. But in reality it offers a much more positive view of the human person than any competing religion or worldview. It is so appealing that adherents of other worldviews keep freeloading the parts they like best.​
James Hannam in firstthings.com​
"... the "scientific revolution" was a continuation of developments that started deep in the Middle Ages among people whose scientific work expressed their religious belief. ... Given the advantages Christianity provided, it is hardly surprising that modern science developed only in the West, within a Christian civilization."​
Exploding the persistant myth that Christianity impeded the growth of science.​
...​
Back in 1978, Carl Sagan included a time line of scientific progress in his book Cosmos, showing that nothing at all happened between a.d. 415 and a.d. 1543. This barren period, he implied, was caused by the thousand-year dominance of Christianity. The “conflict thesis” of science and religion was born in the salons of ancien régime France, where philosophes like Voltaire and d’Alembert used it as a weapon against the Catholic Church. It was further developed in Victorian England by T. H. Huxley in his battle to diminish the influence of the clergy in London’s Royal Society. And it was perfected in American universities by the likes of Andrew Dickson White, the first president of Cornell University, who provided the theory with intellectual ballast in his heavily annotated A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology at the end of the nineteenth century. It has been promoted in countless articles in popular magazines and elementary-school textbooks.​
...​
... the "scientific revolution" was a continuation of developments that started deep in the Middle Ages among people whose scientific work expressed their religious belief. The conflict thesis, in other words, is a myth.​
...​
As it happens, much of the evidence marshaled in favor of the conflict thesis turns out to be bogus.​
...​
It is remarkable that authors who consider themselves skeptics can swallow some of these stories whole.​
...​
Historians have been debunking these legends for over a century now, but each new generation of popular writers continues to recycle them.​
...​
Modern science stands as one of the great achievements of Western civilization—not of Islam, China, or even ancient Greece. Many historians of science are still reluctant to admit this. They praise ancient Greek and Arabic sciences as successful on their own terms but have lost sight of the fact that the theories advanced by early science were largely false.​
...​
Aristotle started from the passive observation of nature and then built up a system based on rational argument. This had two enormous disadvantages: Compared to controlled experiments, passive observation is usually misleading, and not even Aristotle’s powers of reason could prevent blunders in his arguments.​
...​
Aristotle’s faulty method was struck down by the Catholic Church, allowing previously forbidden ideas to flourish. The Church also made natural philosophy a compulsory part of the courses it required trainee theologians to follow. So, science held a central place in Christian centers of learning that it did not hold in Islamic madrassas. And Christianity itself provided a worldview especially compatible with experimental science.​
...​
Christianity made science a theologically justified and even righteous path to pursue. Since God created the world, exploring how it works honors its Creator.​
...​
Christians realized it was impossible to work out the laws of nature through rational analysis alone. The only way to discover his plan was to go out and look.​
...​
Given the advantages Christianity provided, it is hardly surprising that modern science developed only in the West, within a Christian civilization. Although other religious traditions could have provided a similarly fertile metaphysical ground for the study of nature, none actually did so. Christianity was a crucial cause of the unique development of Western science, the only science that has consistently produced true theories of nature.?​

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/04/video-john-lennox-on-problem-of-evil_7.html
Dennis Prager​
To put this as clearly as possible: If there is no God who says, "Do not murder," murder is not wrong. Many people or societies may agree that it is wrong. But so what? Morality does not derive from the opinion of the masses. If it did, then apartheid was right; murdering Jews in Nazi Germany was right; the history of slavery throughout the world was right; and clitoridectomies and honor killings are right in various Muslims societies.​
So, then, without God, why is murder wrong?​
Is it, as Dawkins argues, because reason says so?​
My reason says murder is wrong, just as Dawkins's reason does. But, again, so what? The pre-Christian Germanic tribes of Europe regarded the Church's teaching that murder was wrong as preposterous. They reasoned that killing innocent people was acceptable and normal because the strong should do whatever they wanted.​
In addition, reason alone without God is pretty weak in leading to moral behavior. When self-interest and reason collide, reason usually loses. That's why we have the word "rationalize" -- to use reason to argue for what is wrong. ...​
In that regard, let's go to the empirical argument.?​
Years ago, I interviewed Pearl and Sam Oliner, two professors of sociology at California State University at Humboldt and the authors of one of the most highly-regarded works on altruism, The Altruistic Personality. The book was the product of the Oliners' lifetime of study of non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.​
The Oliners, it should be noted, are secular, not religious, Jews; they had no religious agenda.​
I asked Samuel Oliner, "Knowing all you now know about who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, if you had to return as a Jew to Poland and you could knock on the door of only one person in the hope that they would rescue you, would you knock on the door of a Polish lawyer, a Polish doctor, a Polish artist or a Polish priest?"​
Without hesitation, he said, "a Polish priest."​
 
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#4
What role has Christianity played in this? Well, I think it’s clear that it’s helped it and harmed it. We need not look any further than the Saints for examples of “evolved consciousness.” And Christianity has bred plenty of charity. Of course it’s also held back gay and female rights and been the justification several wrongs. It’s also bred a LOT of judgement.
There would be no concept of gay and women's rights if there had not first been the concept of human rights which we owe to Christianity's message that all souls are equal before God. Gay and women's rights are part of the continuing evolution of consciousness caused by Christianity.

In fact, gay and women's rights are excellent examples of how Christianity continues to influence the evolution of consciousness in our own times. Many members of the forums here may remember how attitudes have changed during their own lifetimes. Gay marriage was first established in the US in Massachusetts in 2004.

You don't have to be a Christian to have your consciousness influenced by Christianity. You only have to be influenced by the Western culture that arose in the Christian West. We are so steeped in Christian culture that we take it for granted and modern culture is so ignorant of history that we don't realize how Christianity has influenced our culture and civilization. That is the point of many of those quotes in my post.

I do not believe in all Christian dogma, but I am probably one of Christianity's biggest supporters in these forums because I appreciate the way of life I have in the US and that way of life, with its freedoms, equality, and technology would not exist without Christianity.

It is a fashionable mistake to blame the failings of human nature that we also see in many other cultures on Christianity when Christianity has done so much more to bring us to where we are today than any religion, philosophy, or culture.

Has there been an evolution of consciousness?

On the spiritual level, consciousness has been evolving since before the big bang and will continue to evolve after the heat death of the universe.

With regard to sentient life on earth, consciousness has been evolving for hundreds of millions of years.

With regard to Christianity, it has changed human culture for those who have been influenced by it. Although great benefits have been experienced globally not all of the cultural aspects have been adopted globally. So Christianity has changed consciousness in the West but not globally.

What we get from Christianity (linked references below). are the concepts of equal rights, human rights, children's rights, and ethics and empirical science.

The great economic and technological successes of Western civilization which have raised the standard of living and raised so many people out of poverty across the globe stem from Christianity. Egalitarianism resulted in economic freedom and rule of law. Science developed from the theological justification for empirical investigation of the natural science. No other philosophy, religion, or culture was capable of providing these necessary ingredients for the civilized nature and high standard of living of the way of life we have today in the West.

  • Alexis de Tocqueville: "The most profound geniuses of Rome and Greece" never came up with the idea of equal rights, he wrote. "Jesus Christ had to come to earth to make it understood that all members of the human species are naturally alike and equal."

  • Friedrich Nietzsche: "Another Christian concept ... has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity: the concept of the 'equality of souls before God.' This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights."

  • Richard Feynman: The other great heritage is Christian ethics — the basis of action on love, the brotherhood of all men, the value of the individual — the humility of the spirit.

  • James Hannam: Christianity made science a theologically justified and even righteous path to pursue. Since God created the world, exploring how it works honors its Creator. ... the "scientific revolution" was a continuation of developments that started deep in the Middle Ages among people whose scientific work expressed their religious belief. The conflict thesis, in other words, is a myth. ... The Church also made natural philosophy a compulsory part of the courses it required trainee theologians to follow. So, science held a central place in Christian centers of learning...Christians realized it was impossible to work out the laws of nature through rational analysis alone. The only way to discover his plan was to go out and look. ... Given the advantages Christianity provided, it is hardly surprising that modern science developed only in the West, within a Christian civilization.

  • Jürgen Habermas, "Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love."

  • John Lennox: Behind the European Declaration of Human Rights lies Christianity, behind universities, hospices, hospitals, lies Christianity, behind the abolition of slavery lies Christianity.

  • Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry: But really, Christianity's invention of children — that is, its invention of the cultural idea of children as treasured human beings — was really an outgrowth of its most stupendous and revolutionary idea: the radical equality, and the infinite value, of every single human being as a beloved child of God. If the God who made heaven and Earth chose to reveal himself, not as an emperor, but as a slave punished on the cross, then no one could claim higher dignity than anyone else on the basis of earthly status.

  • Nancy Pearcey: Luc Ferry says the same thing. We tend to take the concept of equality for granted; yet it was Christianity that overthrew ancient social hierarchies between rich and poor, masters and slaves. "According to Christianity, we were all 'brothers,' on the same level as creatures of God," Ferry writes. "Christianity is the first universalist ethos." ... Atheists often denounce the Bible as harsh and negative. But in reality it offers a much more positive view of the human person than any competing religion or worldview.

  • Dennis Prager: The pre-Christian Germanic tribes of Europe regarded the Church's teaching that murder was wrong as preposterous. They reasoned that killing innocent people was acceptable and normal because the strong should do whatever they wanted.... I asked Samuel Oliner, "Knowing all you now know about who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, if you had to return as a Jew to Poland and you could knock on the door of only one person in the hope that they would rescue you, would you knock on the door of a Polish lawyer, a Polish doctor, a Polish artist or a Polish priest?" ... Without hesitation, he said, "a Polish priest."

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/03/video-lecture-by-john-lennox-explains.html#lennox_civilization
The positive contribution to civilization by Christianity has been enormous.​
Jürgen Habermas​
For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has functioned as more than just a precursor or catalyst. Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation. Up to this very day there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we must draw sustenance now, as in the past, from this substance. Everything else is idle postmodern talk.[37][38][39][40]​
...​
[John Lennox]​
Behind the European Declaration of Human Rights lies Christianity, behind universities, hospices, hospitals, lies Christianity, behind the abolition of slavery lies Christianity. It is a delusion that Christianity has done no good what so ever.​
Richard Feynman​
Western civilization, it seems to me, stands by two great heritages. One is the scientific spirit of adventure — the adventure into the unknown, an unknown which must be recognized as being unknown in order to be explored; the demand that the unanswerable mysteries of the universe remain unanswered; the attitude that all is uncertain; to summarize it — the humility of the intellect. The other great heritage is Christian ethics — the basis of action on love, the brotherhood of all men, the value of the individual — the humility of the spirit.​
- Remarks (2 May 1956) at a Caltech YMCA lunch forum​
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry​
We have forgotten just how deep a cultural revolution Christianity wrought. In fact, we forget about it precisely because of how deep it was: There are many ideas that we simply take for granted as natural and obvious, when in fact they didn't exist until the arrival of Christianity changed things completely. Take, for instance, the idea of children.​
...​
Various pagan authors describe children as being more like plants than human beings. And this had concrete consequences.​
...​
Children were rudely brought up, and very strong beatings were a normal part of education. In Rome, a child's father had the right to kill him for whatever reason until he came of age.​
...​
One of the most notorious ancient practices that Christianity rebelled against was the frequent practice of expositio, basically the abandonment of unwanted infants.​
...​
Another notorious practice in the ancient world was the sexual exploitation of children.​
...​
But really, Christianity's invention of children — that is, its invention of the cultural idea of children as treasured human beings — was really an outgrowth of its most stupendous and revolutionary idea: the radical equality, and the infinite value, of every single human being as a beloved child of God. If the God who made heaven and Earth chose to reveal himself, not as an emperor, but as a slave punished on the cross, then no one could claim higher dignity than anyone else on the basis of earthly status.​
Nancy Pearcey​
Westerners pride themselves on holding noble ideals such as equality and universal human rights. Yet the dominant worldview of our day -- evolutionary materialism -- denies the reality of human freedom and gives no basis for moral ideals such as human rights.​
So where did the idea of equal rights come from?​
The 19th-century political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville said it came from Christianity. "The most profound geniuses of Rome and Greece" never came up with the idea of equal rights, he wrote. "Jesus Christ had to come to earth to make it understood that all members of the human species are naturally alike and equal."​
The 19th-century atheist Friedrich Nietzsche agreed: "Another Christian concept ... has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity: the concept of the 'equality of souls before God.' This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights."​
Contemporary atheist Luc Ferry says the same thing. We tend to take the concept of equality for granted; yet it was Christianity that overthrew ancient social hierarchies between rich and poor, masters and slaves. "According to Christianity, we were all 'brothers,' on the same level as creatures of God," Ferry writes. "Christianity is the first universalist ethos."​
...​
A few intrepid atheists admit outright that they have to borrow the ideal of human rights from Christianity. Philosopher Richard Rorty was a committed Darwinist, and in the Darwinian struggle for existence, the strong prevail while the weak are left behind. So evolution cannot be the source of universal human rights. Instead, Rorty says, the concept came from "religious claims that human beings are made in the image of God." He cheerfully admits that he reaches over and borrows the concept of universal rights from Christianity. He even called himself a "freeloading" atheist: "This Jewish and Christian element in our tradition is gratefully invoked by freeloading atheists like myself."​
...​
Atheists often denounce the Bible as harsh and negative. But in reality it offers a much more positive view of the human person than any competing religion or worldview. It is so appealing that adherents of other worldviews keep freeloading the parts they like best.​
James Hannam in firstthings.com​
"... the "scientific revolution" was a continuation of developments that started deep in the Middle Ages among people whose scientific work expressed their religious belief. ... Given the advantages Christianity provided, it is hardly surprising that modern science developed only in the West, within a Christian civilization."​
Exploding the persistant myth that Christianity impeded the growth of science.​
...​
Back in 1978, Carl Sagan included a time line of scientific progress in his book Cosmos, showing that nothing at all happened between a.d. 415 and a.d. 1543. This barren period, he implied, was caused by the thousand-year dominance of Christianity. The “conflict thesis” of science and religion was born in the salons of ancien régime France, where philosophes like Voltaire and d’Alembert used it as a weapon against the Catholic Church. It was further developed in Victorian England by T. H. Huxley in his battle to diminish the influence of the clergy in London’s Royal Society. And it was perfected in American universities by the likes of Andrew Dickson White, the first president of Cornell University, who provided the theory with intellectual ballast in his heavily annotated A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology at the end of the nineteenth century. It has been promoted in countless articles in popular magazines and elementary-school textbooks.​
...​
... the "scientific revolution" was a continuation of developments that started deep in the Middle Ages among people whose scientific work expressed their religious belief. The conflict thesis, in other words, is a myth.​
...​
As it happens, much of the evidence marshaled in favor of the conflict thesis turns out to be bogus.​
...​
It is remarkable that authors who consider themselves skeptics can swallow some of these stories whole.​
...​
Historians have been debunking these legends for over a century now, but each new generation of popular writers continues to recycle them.​
...​
Modern science stands as one of the great achievements of Western civilization—not of Islam, China, or even ancient Greece. Many historians of science are still reluctant to admit this. They praise ancient Greek and Arabic sciences as successful on their own terms but have lost sight of the fact that the theories advanced by early science were largely false.​
...​
Aristotle started from the passive observation of nature and then built up a system based on rational argument. This had two enormous disadvantages: Compared to controlled experiments, passive observation is usually misleading, and not even Aristotle’s powers of reason could prevent blunders in his arguments.​
...​
Aristotle’s faulty method was struck down by the Catholic Church, allowing previously forbidden ideas to flourish. The Church also made natural philosophy a compulsory part of the courses it required trainee theologians to follow. So, science held a central place in Christian centers of learning that it did not hold in Islamic madrassas. And Christianity itself provided a worldview especially compatible with experimental science.​
...​
Christianity made science a theologically justified and even righteous path to pursue. Since God created the world, exploring how it works honors its Creator.​
...​
Christians realized it was impossible to work out the laws of nature through rational analysis alone. The only way to discover his plan was to go out and look.​
...​
Given the advantages Christianity provided, it is hardly surprising that modern science developed only in the West, within a Christian civilization. Although other religious traditions could have provided a similarly fertile metaphysical ground for the study of nature, none actually did so. Christianity was a crucial cause of the unique development of Western science, the only science that has consistently produced true theories of nature.?​

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/04/video-john-lennox-on-problem-of-evil_7.html
Dennis Prager​
To put this as clearly as possible: If there is no God who says, "Do not murder," murder is not wrong. Many people or societies may agree that it is wrong. But so what? Morality does not derive from the opinion of the masses. If it did, then apartheid was right; murdering Jews in Nazi Germany was right; the history of slavery throughout the world was right; and clitoridectomies and honor killings are right in various Muslims societies.​
So, then, without God, why is murder wrong?​
Is it, as Dawkins argues, because reason says so?​
My reason says murder is wrong, just as Dawkins's reason does. But, again, so what? The pre-Christian Germanic tribes of Europe regarded the Church's teaching that murder was wrong as preposterous. They reasoned that killing innocent people was acceptable and normal because the strong should do whatever they wanted.​
In addition, reason alone without God is pretty weak in leading to moral behavior. When self-interest and reason collide, reason usually loses. That's why we have the word "rationalize" -- to use reason to argue for what is wrong. ...​
In that regard, let's go to the empirical argument.?​
Years ago, I interviewed Pearl and Sam Oliner, two professors of sociology at California State University at Humboldt and the authors of one of the most highly-regarded works on altruism, The Altruistic Personality. The book was the product of the Oliners' lifetime of study of non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.​
The Oliners, it should be noted, are secular, not religious, Jews; they had no religious agenda.​
I asked Samuel Oliner, "Knowing all you now know about who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, if you had to return as a Jew to Poland and you could knock on the door of only one person in the hope that they would rescue you, would you knock on the door of a Polish lawyer, a Polish doctor, a Polish artist or a Polish priest?"​
Without hesitation, he said, "a Polish priest."​
 
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#5
Many people experience the evolution of their own consciousness when they become Christian.

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/04/belief-in-religion-and-spirituality.html
Dan Conway
Neither of professional musician Dan Conway's parents were religious and he was an atheist until he felt his life was going in the wrong direction...​
In some way's I guess things were going well. As you said I got to perform on Australia's Got Talent. ... I'm no stranger to the music business so ... I had a record deal when I was 16 with Sony and another one sometime later I think with EMI. So I was no stranger to all that. But, I was actually really unhappy. And I was only growing more unhappy. And I wasn't living well. The more time went on the more I was hurting myself and others. It wasn't pretty. I came to a place where I just want to think ... maybe there's something to this God thing and maybe I missed it. So I thought, I want to know. I want to know I don't really want to be into what feels good or what suits me I actually want to know what's the truth.​
This was an from an atheist from birth, born to atheist parents being skeptical about atheism: "I don't really want to be into what feels good or what suits me. I actually want to know what's the truth".​
And so I committed I'm going to figure it out. I'm going to commit to following the evidence wherever it leads. I became a regular debate viewer on line and read books on God and his existence. When I got real radical I'd listen to a sermon or two. All as an atheist. But the most crucial part of that was really when I examined my own heart and did that the very last. But when I saw what was in there and when I considered who Jesus might be that led me to believe in God. Everything changed at that point. I guess I had a really a change of being. Somewhere deep I don't even know where. And that changed my thinking my desires, my outlook, so I guess it was natural that my music changed with it.
Lee Strobel
Religion has also helped Lee Strobel.​
Strobel is a journalist and his research into the authenticity of the Gospels transformed his life. He started out as an atheist skeptic but when he used his credentials as a reporter to get access to the worlds leading historians, the results of his research made a believer out of him.​
"... [believing] began a transformational process for me where over time my philosophy and my attitudes, relationships, parenting, world-view, all of that began to change over time for good. Really for good."
"When Lee became a Christian his whole life started to change to the extent that our five year old daughter who also saw those changes went to her Sunday school teacher and told her that she wanted Jesus to do in her life what He had done in her Daddy's life."
 
#6
Anyone else have problems with the MP3 download? For me, it's a very small file that won't play in my Quicktime player. I can watch the video, but not download the audio file.
 
#11
Alex, I was glad you challenged him about the idea that consciousness changed at around the time of Christ. As you said, there is essentially no evidence for that statement.
thx for the heads-up. we're fix'n it.
Strangely enough I downloaded it just after it appeared - before you had added the links from the forum.

It must have been damaged after that.

David
 
#12
I've listened to half of the interview by now on video. Interesting discussion between the two of you. Here are my reactions thus far--

Psychotherapy is definitely NOT scientific. I have a BS in Psych and an MA in Counseling, and no one ever accused us therapists of being scientists. Scientists are the rat testers, the operant conditioners, the measurers of this and that, often involving electric shocks and little bits of food. The therapists are not in the least bit scientific. They are usually more akin to skilled artists or priests, depending on their therapeutic modality and innate sensitivities.

Regarding mystical experiences as a valid form of sensing the presence of God or Christ--I'm assuming that direct mystical experience counts for something around here? If only as corroborating anecdotal evidence? If so, then there are an awful lot of people who call themselves "Born Again Christians Baptized in the Holy Spirit" who have had countless mystical experiences, myself included. I wouldn't be so quick to discount the validity of their mystical encounters in this world of open-minded consciousness researchers. (read a nice little article I wrote about a vision of Jesus and the between place: https://asimpleexplanation.blogspot.com/2011/02/personal-note-childhood-dream-of-god.html )

Is it possible for the Christian mythos to be in any way truthful and factual? Sure. But I'd say the Christian mythos that most closely resembles reality as we know it would be the Gnostic mythos, and it was weeded out of the canonical Bible and thrown away in 300 AD. I used to think the Pope and Emperor weeded it out for the good of the faithful, but now I realize they weeded it out for their own power to reign supreme. Yes, they left a lot of good mythos in, as Jim Smith points out above, charity arises in humankind through Judaism and Christianity, at least as I understand it, but they weeded out the logos that makes the religion reasonable. So no wonder it looks superstitious and shallow. Thank God the Gnostic truths were buried out in the Nag Hammadi desert and resurrected during WW2. Ha--spoken like a true believer; listen to me say, my superstition is not shallow--ha.

I've been chewing this particular Gnosis over for about 50 years. See if this intrinsically coherent Gnostic Christian narrative is more satisfying to the Skeptik than the Orthodox view. I think it is, but it is no less Theistic, so if that's your quibble, I can't help you there. Here goes:

According to the Tripartite Tractate Nag Hammadi book, we start with an underlying matrix of consciousness. (So, right off the bat, this ancient book acknowledges transcendent, undifferentiated consciousness.) This illimitable consciousness thought of a particularity, which became a fractal representation of the illimitable. This first fractal is called The Son. The Son immediately fanned out like rays from a light into an infinite number of particularities. The moment the particularities became conscious, because they, too, were fractals of the illimitable consciousness, they named themselves in order to know themselves. This naming had the effect of sorting themselves into a hierarchy of names, stations, ranks, positions, and powers. These are the Aeons, also known as the Pre-existent Church and the Elect, also called the First Order of Powers. The Aeons live in a place called the Pleroma, or the ALL, or the Fullness. Altogether, the Aeons of the Fullness represent the infinity of potentialities. They are of one accord, being simply the names of the qualities of their Father, who is called the Son of the originating One. This is the entire sum of the hidden knowledge of Gnosis that so frightened the Emperor and the Pope. We can catch glimpses of this cosmology, the Father, the Son, and the Aeons, in the canonical Bible, but not enough was left intact to make sense of it. Now we know.

The Aeons of the Fullness dream one dream that they ALL share. This is the dream of Paradise, which was the original Thought that set the whole ball rolling. The Aeons dream exactly as we dream, except they all share the same dream. This is a place we are also familiar with, we humans in our dreams. It is the foretaste of Heaven. It is the fragrance of Utopia. It is the place where we can fly. We all know it, according to the Tripartite Tractate.

Then various things happen, an Aeon overreaches and wisdom becomes presumptuous thought. The Aeon Falls from the perfection of the Fullness. The Aeon breaks apart and little pieces of it become the seed of our material universe. The Aeons above in the Fullness dream up a Second Order of Powers that carry their Aeonic traits into this material plane. All archaea of our planet are Second Order Powers. It was decided that all of the Aeons would come to earth to clean up the mess and restore perfection to this creation that occurred because of the Fall. Every thing on earth contains innumerable Aeons instantiating consciousness into the mud. Our fables and Bible stories tell fractal stories of all lives; the same stories over and over and over again. They are real and they are metaphors. We are the children of angels; we are angels. We are all Fallen and need redemption.

The Christ Consciousness, according to the Tripartite Tractate, is the Third Order of Powers. The Christ Consciousness was designed to be the correcting algorithm for the Second Order Powers who'd been ensnared in the deception of the material delusion, also called the Imitation. Imitation of what? Imitation of the Paradise dreamed by the Aeons of the Fullness. The Christ is like a computer clean-up code that must be inserted in order to do its work of Redemption. Every soul needs to remember their eternal heritage in order to shake off this material plane and return to the Fullness.

Here's where Jesus of Nazareth comes in--this was a human who carried the perfected Third Order Power of Christ into our material plane, and co-existed with the human genome donated from the mother. Fully God. Fully Human. First Adam perfectly incarnated. In this manner, all of the infinity of the ALL was at last incarnated, completing the cycle of coming one-by-one to our material plane. It wasn't so much Christ's sacrifice on the cross that took away the sins of the world, but his incarnation as a human and his personal Aeonic experience of separation, despair, and death. I think the emphasis is on the cross as a shape of top-to-bottom/spirit-to-mud and side-to-side/ALL inclusive.

And what it means to be Redeemed by Christ as a pre-requisite to going to Heaven, well, yes, the Christ incarnated for the salvation of the ALL, and that includes us, but also the dogs and cats, and the trees and grasses. You name it. Jesus saves.

So, how does this strike you? Too much for one post? You can read a much more detailed and coherent account (fully illustrated) in my own book called "The Gnostic Gospel Illuminated". It's all there.
 
#13
I find The above comments by Jim Smith summarize the historical Significance and influence to the present day of the Christian philosophy of love and equality of all human beings very well. Regarding the evolution of consciousness, we may see it in the Bible itself as we read lets say the Book of Joshua and compare it with the instructions for us from Jesus in the Gospels. I too am glad to be living in an age where Jesus' teachings are yet humanity's guidance.
 
#14
Where does this idea of “believe in Jesus or go to Hell” come up in any NDEs, OBEs, or channeled information? I’m in several very active Facebook groups full of NDErs relaying and discussing their experiences. I’ve swallowed up all 120 accounts or so on the YouTube “NDE Accounts” page on YouTube where experiencers tell their stories, read a couple of books on the topic, read up on astral travelers and OBE experiencers (Graham Nichols, Jurgen Ziewe, Bob Monroe, Tom Campbell, Chris Kirkpatrick etc) who report experiences in these other realms often populated by dead relatives similarly to NDEs and are very consistent with each other and credible.

We have tons of channeled information studied over the past century or so, some done under strict laboratory conditions (Dr Julie Beischel is one that comes to mind), we have a ton of remarkable anecdotes from a deluge of folk who seem to be making contact with dead relatives. We have afterlife researchers who compile and present data from all of these fields. People like Victor and Wendy Zammit and Roberta Grimes etc. What comes through in this channeled information is not anything about dead relatives residing with Jesus or really anything about Jesus at all.

We have people having experiences with the Christ consciousness. We have people reporting the power, beauty, and love of Jesus, (in western NDE’s anyways). I posted a study on the differences between Eastern NDEs and western NDEs the other day, which showed that their experiences are typically quite different from Westerners, but data is limited. We have all this data, and I don’t find this idea of “Jesus saves” anywhere. There’s all sorts of great Jesus stuff to be had. But nothing about going to hell if you don’t believe in Jesus. Dead relatives from the other side aren’t mentioning it, and all the Christian NDErs that I’ve talked with aren’t coming back saying “believe in Jesus or you’re screwed.” Yet this is the main take home message of the New Testament IMO. The good old “believe or else” threat.

The message WE DO get back is that LOVE is what matters along with INTERCONNECTEDNESS. It’s not this message of Jesus saving your ass.

To me, the reincarnation data flies in the face of this notion as well. It is readily apparent that people sometimes do reincarnate. If you guys haven’t looked at the studies on this, you really need to. It’s essentially unassailable. Even Carl Sagan (noted debunker of anomalous phenomena) stated that the evidence in favor of reincarnation is sound and should be pursued further. Of course we can’t say that everybody always reincarnates when they die, I don’t believe that’s how it works. Regardless, this idea of needing to believe in Jesus seems even less relevant in light of the fact that somebody who is a Christian may simply very well reincarnate as a Muslim. There are plenty of good examples of cross cultural reincarnation.

What some of the best mediums and frequent OBE practitioners report (and I think that this notion is supported by NDEs as well) is that we live in a multidimensional reality that is essentially infinitely big and complex. It seems we can “incarnate” and partake in many of these systems as we continue our journey through whatever the hell it is we are doing. Of course this system involves other beings of large number and we have so called “aliens” reported all the time in these realms and of course we have ET established as a fact visiting here on Earth.

Are these aliens Christian? Are Easterners who have NDEs becoming Christian? There’s no Indication that they are. There’s a handful of accounts on Jeffry Longs NDERF page (maybe 20-30) and there’s a couple of other noteworthy studies showing that they typically have different types of experiences, with some baseline similarities. But they aren’t telling us that they learned that Jesus saves. While it’s true that some NDERs and mystical experiencers become Christian, the opposite is true as well. Many unbecome Christian after their experience.

Yes there’s clearly something to this Jesus thing. And it’s quite powerful. I was a Christian most of my life and fancied myself as an amateur apologist. I swallowed all the CS Lewis, Josh McDowell, Lee Stroebel books etc. I would debate atheists and Muslims online. But eventually I reached a point where my Christianity became so liberal I thought “what’s the point of calling myself a Christian anymore?” And that’s sort of where I’m at now. I can’t establish any indication that believing in Jesus is even remotely necessary for anything. Jesus may have walked the Earth, he might be an extraordinarily exalted and powerful form of consciousness. Is it possible that he has somehow saved us? I suppose it’s possible, but that to me is a subjective belief. There’s no talk of it from the afterlife researchers who I’m aware of who compile data from all these different areas nor do I see any indication of it from any of these areas we discuss.

We are powerful co-creators of reality. The placebo effect and quantum physics (I have to bring this point up again) show that our thoughts affect reality here. What OBErs generally tell us is that our thoughts affect our surroundings even more in these “extended consciousness realms” (as Alex puts it). Therefore, it’s no surprise to me that there seem to be cultural differences in mystical experiences and NDEs. I don’t see any reason to believe that Christianity isn’t more of a local thing which is rather irrelevant to the whole of reality and existence. Even though it’s quite relavant and Pertinent to us currently. And I do believe that people here reach spiritual fulfillment through it.

My biggest recommended reading regarding our multidimensional reality is Jurgen Ziewes “Multi-Dimensional Man.” I feel very strongly that out of body practicioners give us the best data because their experiences repeat and are not a “one off” as NDEs are. That’s not to belittle the remarkable nature and importance of NDEs. But to me, NDEs are transcendent experiences of consciousness which are not indicative of afterlife states per se, anymore than a DMT experience is indicative of an afterlife state. I feel strongly that the consistent reports of credible astral travelers give us a better view of ultimate reality than NDEs to.
 
#15
I find The above comments by Jim Smith summarize the historical Significance and influence to the present day of the Christian philosophy of love and equality of all human beings very well. Regarding the evolution of consciousness, we may see it in the Bible itself as we read lets say the Book of Joshua and compare it with the instructions for us from Jesus in the Gospels. I too am glad to be living in an age where Jesus' teachings are yet humanity's guidance.
Lol
 
#17
My biggest recommended reading regarding our multidimensional reality is Jurgen Ziewes “Multi-Dimensional Man.” I feel very strongly that out of body practicioners give us the best data because their experiences repeat and are not a “one off” as NDEs are. That’s not to belittle the remarkable nature and importance of NDEs. But to me, NDEs are transcendent experiences of consciousness which are not indicative of afterlife states per se, anymore than a DMT experience is indicative of an afterlife state. I feel strongly that the consistent reports of credible astral travelers give us a better view of ultimate reality than NDEs to.
The problem I have with OBE's is that they very rarely produce verifiable information. It is actually worse than than that because when they try, they usually produce wrong information. So I am reluctant to trust a source of information when there is good reason to believe it is wrong. And when you look at the induction techniques for OBE's they are often similar to hypnotic induction and techniques for producing lucid dreams. That could explain why they think they are out of the body when they are not. Some OBEs produce verifiable information, but so do some dreams and most people do not consider that a reason to believe all dreams are true.

With many NDEs the experiencer is conscious when their brain is not functioning so you have a reason to believe they are experiencing something without the use of their physical body, ie that they are really out of their body. And there are also cases of shared NDEs where multiple people near death share an experience, or a caregiver of someone near death shares the NDE. Some NDEs occur when there is no abnormal physiological condition that could explain a dream or a hallucination.

You have to look at the specifics of each individual experiencer but it seems to me that there are better reasons to believe NDEs provide reliable information than OBEs.
 
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#18
I would not reject any form of information because it disagrees with my beliefs. I would reject it if there was no basis for believing it or a basis for believing it is false. But seeming contradictions can be due to incomplete understanding. A theory should account for all the data not just the convenient data.

When it comes to Christian NDEs that seem to contradict information about the afterlife from other sources, one has to consider a fact which applies to all forms of communication about the afterlife ... that fact is that when spiritual beings try to communicate with incarnated humans they have to use language, symbols, and forms of communication that we will understand. If they don't we will not understand their message, we may ignore it or think it is demonic or evil in some other way.

You also have to consider that no form of communication is 100% accurate. Even when two people speak face to face using language there is the possibility of misunderstanding.
 
#19
My biggest recommended reading regarding our multidimensional reality is Jurgen Ziewes “Multi-Dimensional Man.”
Jurgen seems to go to an extreme which makes me worry a bit - I go hot and cold as to what he is revealing. I suppose it is the extreme ease with which he has OBEs and LD's.

Nevertheless, I do strongly agree with the main thrust of your post. I wish there was a "Like a lot" button! In fact, my heart sank that we were going to have yet another Christianity related podcast!
The problem I have with OBE's is that they very rarely produce verifiable information. It is actually worse than than that because when they try, they usually produce wrong information. So I am reluctant to trust a source of information when there is good reason to believe it is wrong. And when you look at the induction techniques for OBE's they are often similar to hypnotic induction and techniques for producing lucid dreams. That could explain why they think they are out of the body when they are not. Some OBEs produce verifiable information, but so do some dreams and most people do not consider that a reason to believe all dreams are true.
OTH, they may be revealing the malleable nature of reality.

I don't recall you writing much about your OBE's and LD's - Have you considered writing about them here - including the failed verifications.

The other thing to remember is that some people do claim to have had verifiable information from these means. Andy Paquette claims in his book that a lucid dream (not sure if it was lucid) enabled him to avoid being mugged and possibly murdered. There are also many, many people who claim their dreams are precognitive.

David
 
#20
OTH, they may be revealing the malleable nature of reality.
Many evidential mediums don't have problems routinely obtaining verifiable information.

Leslie Flint is probably the best source of information about the afterlife. He was a direct voice medium. The spirits made a voice box out of ectoplasm that they used to speak through. There were many recordings made in which you can hear him and the spirits speaking at the same time. The spirits routinely gave verifiable information and they discussed what it is like in the afterlife to a great extent.

https://www.leslieflint.com

If you are frustrated by seeming contradictions about the afterlife from different sources then I would recommend you just stick with the information produced by Leslie Flint.

I've written about my own experiences taking classes in mediumship. It is because of my own repeated experiences obtaining verifiable information that I am very skeptical about induced OBEs that routinely produce verifiably wrong information..

I don't recall you writing much about your OBE's and LD's - Have you considered writing about them here - including the failed verifications.
I had a remote viewing experience in a mediumship class. I viewed a building with a circular driveway outside, a large carpeted wooden staircase inside, and there was a ghost watching over the place. When I was told about the target my observations were confirmed.


The other thing to remember is that some people do claim to have had verifiable information from these means. Andy Paquette claims in his book that a lucid dream (not sure if it was lucid) enabled him to avoid being mugged and possibly murdered. There are also many, many people who claim their dreams are precognitive.

David
My point was that the reasons for believing what NDErs are telling us about the afterlife are better than the reasons for believing what OBErs are telling us. I said that without mentioning anyone specific. I think as a general rule what I wrote was correct. I was trying to explain why I didn't agree that NDEs in general should be ignored while OBEs taken as reliable. That was what I was replying to.

But I also wrote you have to consider the specifics of each experiencer.

I agree many dreams are precognitive. I've had many myself. (I thought we were talking about reliability of information about the afterlife.) But I don't believe all my dreams are true. And if you read what has been written about the dreams, they are usually not recognized as precognitive until the event happens. Andy's dream did not let avoid the situation by taking a different route. So even with precognitive dreams you still don't know what is true and what is dream.
 
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