Science and philosophy gave him something he never thought he’d find… respect for religion |312|

#22
Well you tell me what you do with these accounts!

What do you do with endless accounts where a person encounters their deceased relatives?

David
Well, I just wanted know but I personally do not think all aspects of consciousness survive in every case and there's much more subtlety to
survival than all of us drifting off complete and whole into another realm.
 
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#23
Dr. Bernardo Kastrup: Authentic religious myths can bring us beyond the constraints of this [reality].

Well, I just wanted know but I personally do not think all aspects of consciousness survive in every case and there's much more subtlety to
survival than all of us drifting off complete and whole into another realm.
Well I just cringe at the 'scientific' approach where we re-interpret everything NDEers report. I agree it does make it difficult, but the conventional science approach does illustrate how not to do it!

David
 
#24
Dr. Bernardo Kastrup: Authentic religious myths can bring us beyond the constraints of this [reality].

Well, I just wanted know but I personally do not think all aspects of consciousness survive in every case and there's much more subtlety to
survival than all of us drifting off complete and whole into another realm.
Some accounts seem to indicate that consciousness increases in many aspects rather than decreases or is lessened
They also say to me very clearly that the afterlife realm or realms are quite different to this realm
 
#25
Well I just cringe at the 'scientific' approach where we re-interpret everything NDEers report. I agree it does make it difficult, but the conventional science approach does illustrate how not to do it!

David
I think you have a negative attitude towards science generally, perhaps on account of the current dogmas of reductionist materialism
and I can understand how many have that type of reaction

When I talk about science and the scientific method I am not referring to modern dogmatic materialist ideology
I am referring to the scientific method properly applied
There are people attempting to do that today
They are a minority - today
But that will change in time
 
#26
Dr. Bernardo Kastrup: Authentic religious myths can bring us beyond the constraints of this [reality]. That’s what they’re pointing to. They’re pointing at something beyond linear logic; beyond space and time; beyond the constraints that we willingly adopt in our ordinary relationship with reality. We shouldn’t give those constraints up but I think we shouldn’t lose, willingly, our only umbilical connection to something that goes beyond that either.

Can't argue with that (to get back to the subject). But didn't Einstein say "space and time are modes by which we think not conditions in which we exist"? So when Bernardo says "beyond space and time", they are only convenient hooks on which to hang the physics. I'm studying some nasty tensors leading up to Einstein's equations at present
and can vouch for this!

If we "default" our thinking with only space and time we will stay within our limitations.
 
#27
Well the problem is when investigators routinely re-interpret what people say, to mean what they think it should mean! That is the problem with the scientific approach to NDE's. With NDE's you basically have nothing other than a first person account - but of a very striking nature - but if you start re-interpreting it, it can mean anything.

Searching for commonalities between NDE's seems to be about the best you can do.

What would you do?

David
Well, I think we have to be very cautious about how we collect and for what purpose we use these accounts.

I think the greatest value of these reports is to guide researchers by helping them identify aspects to study, and to provide a starting point for paths to explore.

For example, commonality of accounts are useful in terms of identifying similarities of experiences but less useful at determining if NDEs are brain based on not. Similarity of experience could be because experiencers are drawing on the same extra-material sources, or because similar biologies produce similar experiences in similar circumstances. The accounts alone cannot (as far as I know) help us differentiate between the two options. We need to go further than the mere accounts, from both the neuroscientific and parapsychological approach.

In order for the accounts to be of good use in terms of directing research, we need to maximize the reliability of the accounts. Off the top of my head, and by no means intended to be exhaustive:

Interviews:

  • Efforts should be made to interview subjects as soon as possible after the initial event. The amount of time that has passed for each account should be reported.
  • All interviews should be recorded, and made available to peer reviewers at a minimum, but preferably hosted publicly. Subjects should be permitted to refuse to allow their interviews to be hosted publicly, but access to peer reviewers should be mandatory to include in the study.
  • Interviewers should be trained in interview techniques, and avoid leading questions.
Selection Biases:

  • Subjects who have experiences but that do not meet the determine threshold on the NDE scale should nevertheless be interviewed as well, and in the same manner as those who meet the threshold.
  • We have enough studies that focus almost exclusively on the subset of subjects who reach a certain threshold on the NDE scale. That has been useful in identifying some common traits, but also puts the studies at strong risk of selection bias. Adding the complete sample to the study will avoid this. it also may lead the way to potentially identifying variables that differentiate those who score high on the NDE scale and low, or who do not have experiences at all, and will put the various types of experiences in context. In other words, analysis should be on the entire sample, not the selected sample.
  • Prospectively selected accounts should be accorded more weight than retrospectively selected accounts (or first, someone should do a study to compare the results of prospective vs. retrospective studies).


NDEs conclusions must be based on something more than simply a lack of an explaination under existing paradigms.



Accepting for the sake of the argument that NDEs are not currently explainable under brain based theories we have two basic options:

  • This is because NDE's are not brain based.
  • This is because NDEs are telling us something new about how brains work.
Regardless of which is correct we can't get there by simply noting that it doesn't fit with other knowledge. The fact that NDEs aren't currently understood by science does not let us draw conclusions about their nature. On the other hand, the fact that they aren't currently understood justifies the exploration of non-brain based approaches, to be done in conjunction with the continued study of brain-based approaches. (The latter proposition is much less controversial than the former, and I would bet is far more likely to find agreement from both sides!)

I'm sure there's more to be said, but that's what I have for now.

(If this is off topic for this thread, David, maybe you can split this subdiscussion off to its own thread?)
 
#29
I think you have a negative attitude towards science generally, perhaps on account of the current dogmas of reductionist materialism
and I can understand how many have that type of reaction

When I talk about science and the scientific method I am not referring to modern dogmatic materialist ideology
I am referring to the scientific method properly applied
There are people attempting to do that today
They are a minority - today
But that will change in time
I'm interested to hear your take on what the proper approach should be.
 
#31
Wonderful show. Thanks Alex and Bernardo.

I enjoyed the whole interview and got a lot out of it.
I worried a little that early on Alex, you seemed to misunderstand Bernardo's point about religious myths as symbols pointing to deeper truths (fingers pointing at the moon type thing). Or maybe I should say, you seemed to understand his point in a way that I didn't understand it. I say this because it seemed from your line of questioning that you felt it was irreconcilable with the NDE accounts. At no point did I see that anything Bernardo was saying was in any way challenged by, or a challenge to the NDE narrative we seem to have from a huge body of testimony. In fact for me, his point about religious myth being a symbolic finger pointing at a deeper truth was complimentary to the NDE narrative.

It occurs to me, that to ask a question somewhat along the lines of "if religious myths are symbolic and not derived from some literal historical figure or fact, then does this undermine the reality of the NDE as a real and valid experience?" is to miss the most fundamental point. Once you realise (as I know you have) that we do not live in a "materialistic" universe (solid, immutable, finite and definite), but more of an "idealistic" one (fluid, ever changing, infinite and malleable), it makes no sense to look for "solid, immutable, finite and definite" characteristics in the deeper truths we may access (NDE's).

What I mean is, it seems we have a slight cognitive dissonance hangover from our days as card carrying materialists (I certainly was once, and I'm sure many of us here on the forum have been and have had our positions radically shifted over recent years). It often seems that we are looking to prove the concrete reality of the NDE as an absolutely solid, immutable, definite thing (e.g. my meeting with Jesus was a meeting with the real historical Jesus, who once lived in Palestine, who the romans were quite mean to, who may have father issues, and is right now enjoying a cup of tea, and will always be the same Jesus for eternity, and never a different Jesus, and that's the one I met, so he must be real) which could only be the case if it were part of a "materialistic" universe.

But we know we don't live in a materialistic universe, and that it is observer dependent to a far more profound degree than we used to believe possible (perhaps entirely). So, it's a consensus reality, and it is also an idealistic universe, so our experiences of the same thing (Jesus or Chocolate for example) are either totally different, or somewhat similar. The fluid nature of the idealistic universe allows both. If it were truly materialistic and objectively real (solid, finite and definite), how could we have different experiences of something objectively existing?

So this is what I mean about a cognitive dissonance hangover relating to materialism. We know that we don't live in a materialistic universe, but we keep searching for materialistic proof's that this is the case! (50 people said jesus had a beard - consensus - solid - real - unchanging - solid - definite etc)

Sorry what I am saying is so haphazard, I wish I had half the eloquence of Bernardo, but I hope you get what I am saying. You seemed to identify a challenge to the validity or reality of the NDE in the suggestion that religious myth's are primarily symbols pointing to a deeper truth which the symbol does not contain, but which merely points our attention toward. So it felt like you wanted to say the NDE is a "concrete, solid, finite and definite thing" and the suggestion of symbolism might upset the concrete reality of the NDE. But NOTHING is concrete, as NOTHING is material! Deeper truths (NDE's) would bear even LESS resemblance to material things, and be MORE fluid - no? Perhaps we need to take a step back and realise that we seem to impose a materialistic boundary and framework even around idealistic universe which is coming into view.

I especially appreciated the end of the interview. Bernardo saying he was either having a breakthrough or a breakdown (I am certain it is a breakthrough), and Alex sharing his inner urge to infuse life with something devotional and the wonderful story about the Sanskrit teacher. For me, I have been a passenger on the Skeptiko train for many years now, and Alex's evolution and investigations have totally helped form and shape my own evolution, and I have been thinking for a while now that the information I have learned in the show, while it has transformed my life, both inner and outer, and provided me some pointers, it has given me no real clear sense of the direction I ought to be moving along, or goal I should try and achieve. However, it has made my desire to find a clear direction and a goal much firmer, and given me the certainty that any direction and goal I move towards will not be fatuous or futile (as in a materialistic universe). I know which way the wind is blowing, but not which path I will take in that direction, although I do truly believe now they may really be all leading to the same destination - our innermost.

Alex seems to be nurturing an attraction to bhakti and kirtan as an expression of that need to begin to find a path. I am attracted to many paths, Tibetan Buddhism, Gnostic Christianity, Vedanta etc, and cannot whole heartedly throw myself into one, but I know I will never look back, and never doubt that I live in a meaningful and mystical universe, and that my being here has just as much meaning as the universe being here, and most importantly, it is not solid, finite of immutable, but fluid, infinite and ever changing, ever evolving.

Surely we will all find the right path one day, and it will be different for each of us. I am reminded of the Buddhist metaphor of Buddhism being the boat that carries one across the river of samsara. When one reaches the other side, it would be foolish and cumbersome to carry the boat with us on the other shore, better to drop it. Like wise, all paths must come to an end, and maybe we will find our selves on the same land mass at the end of our chosen routes.

Thank you Alex for your invaluable input into my spiritual evolution. I wouldn't be so well reconciled with the universe I find my self in if it weren't for you and your show, and people like Bernardo, and indeed everyone on the forum. :)
 
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#32
I'm interested to hear your take on what the proper approach should be.
As I said above, what you outlined is the kind of thing I mean
Systematic and disciplined; looking to get at the raw experience behind any interpretations or overlays; looking for patterns within an account and between accounts; etc

All very useful; but people on both sides of this debate have ideological convictions on these matters and do not want them studied scientifically

The problem today is the dogma of reductive materialism - which is an ideology; a belief system; not science or scientific in the true sense
And that dogmatic rigidity has provoked a corresponding anti-science reactivity

Both camps are resistant to the scientific study of NDEs; and for the same reason; they do not want their ideologies challenged

All of which is not good for human intellectual development

But in my view dogmatic materialism is a fashion of recent cultural & intellectual history and will change in time
It already is changing
 
#34
As I said above, what you outlined is the kind of thing I mean
Systematic and disciplined; looking to get at the raw experience behind any interpretations or overlays; looking for patterns within an account and between accounts; etc

All very useful; but people on both sides of this debate have ideological convictions on these matters and do not want them studied scientifically

The problem today is the dogma of reductive materialism - which is an ideology; a belief system; not science or scientific in the true sense
And that dogmatic rigidity has provoked a corresponding anti-science reactivity

Both camps are resistant to the scientific study of NDEs; and for the same reason; they do not want their ideologies challenged

All of which is not good for human intellectual development

But in my view dogmatic materialism is a fashion of recent cultural & intellectual history and will change in time
It already is changing
Classic materialism will still be there for those that must feel "safe" with the ridiculous notion that we are close to knowing everything. But the trend towards panpsychism is bound to bring all sort of interesting things with it.
 
#35
Classic materialism will still be there for those that must feel "safe" with the ridiculous notion that we are close to knowing everything. But the trend towards panpsychism is bound to bring all sort of interesting things with it.
Yes, I agree about the arrogance/ignorance of dogmatic materialism; less so about panpsychism
But no doubt the future will bring change and many surprises

Dogmatic materialism is similar to fundamentalist religion; it makes absolutist claims it cannot back up other than by belief
That is partly why they share the same fear of real scientific investigation
Ideology and dogmatism are endemic to human consciousness; and we should always factor that into our analysis of current and future trends
 
#36
Yes, I agree about the arrogance/ignorance of dogmatic materialism; less so about panpsychism
But no doubt the future will bring change and many surprises

Dogmatic materialism is similar to fundamentalist religion; it makes absolutist claims it cannot back up other than by belief
That is partly why they share the same fear of real scientific investigation
Ideology and dogmatism are endemic to human consciousness; and we should always factor that into our analysis of current and future trends
Panpsychism is kind of a materalist's rehab. I adopted it while moving away from classical materialism and it allowed the transition to other ideas when its shortcomings were apparent (i.e. Is the internet aware?).

I did not mean that we should be happy if panpsychism replaces classic materialism as the new status quo, but we should be happy that at least part of the mainstream is moving towards an option that, given the right approach, should allow some of them to probe more immaterialist ideas.
 
#37
Panpsychism is kind of a materalist's rehab. I adopted it while moving away from classical materialism and it allowed the transition to other ideas when its shortcomings were apparent (i.e. Is the internet aware?).

I did not mean that we should be happy if panpsychism replaces classic materialism as the new status quo, but we should be happy that at least part of the mainstream is moving towards an option that, given the right approach, should allow some of them to probe more immaterialist ideas.
Ah, I understand and agree
Thanks for clarifying
 
#38
Haven't posted in a while, but just wanted to say this was a great interview. Hope to see more along these lines at Skeptiko. Loved to see Bernardo's views swing in this direction. Really syncs up with how I have felt for a long time, so I guess it's a bit pleasing to see somebody use logic, philosophical rigor and an open mind to eventually arrive at the conclusions he has. I also thought Alex asked some great questions throughout the interview.
My god, Ethan, where have you been? On a top secret government mission?
 
#39
Alex, you seemed to misunderstand Bernardo's point about religious myths as symbols pointing to deeper truths (fingers pointing at the moon type thing)
I just felt a need to nail this down. if we're gonna play the "reality game" then we ought to do the best we can with it :) e.g. flood myth. we now strongly suspect this is pointing at a historical event, but we could could get all caught up in the "flood myth allegory."





So this is what I mean about a cognitive dissonance hangover relating to materialism. We know that we don't live in a materialistic universe, but we keep searching for materialistic proof's that this is the case! (50 people said jesus had a beard - consensus - solid - real - unchanging - solid - definite etc)
great point! yeah, I think materialism creeps in a lot. I think there a strong connection here with many of the non-dual practices we hear about in that many of these are keen to continuously uproot this conditioning.


I know which way the wind is blowing, but not which path I will take in that direction, although I do truly believe now they may really be all leading to the same destination - our innermost.
wow, awesomely quotable :)

Alex seems to be nurturing an attraction to bhakti and kirtan as an expression of that need to begin to find a path.
I am also attracted to many paths, but feel an special affinity toward those that go against my general nature... hence iconoclasm and bhakti :)

many thx for these awesome thoughts. I'm honored to share this journey with you.
 
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