Suzanne Giesemann medium readings provide evidence of love and guidance |334|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Yes, well said. The ultimate answer agreed to in that interview as to the existence of evil seems to be that evil is self-existent in its own right, rather than derivative of the Good. This makes most sense to me too, but even given this, it is still very difficult to explain the reality in which we find ourselves.

    Let's say that the ultimate Good, that which Nathaniel experiences when he meditates, emanated a Demiurge which was corrupted by this self-existent evil. I have two questions re this: firstly, why would the Good have emanated anything in the first place? Secondly, why could God / the Good not retract or destroy (harmlessly, without pain) this corrupted emanation?

    I'm not studied enough in Gnostic thought to know what the "standard" answers are, so I welcome clarification, but perhaps one answer to the first question is that the Good, not knowing of the (self-)existence of Evil prior to emanating, Created for the pleasure of sharing Its goodness with others.

    One answer to the second question might be that, having been contaminated by, and to some extent, then, equally controlled by / beholden to Evil as by/to Good, the Good does not have the power to retract or destroy Its emanation without a fight.

    So far, so good (and so evil...), and this might leave us in a situation where the Good is forced to reclaim its emanation, and its emanation's flawed creations, from, and by waging a war with, a force to which It is utterly opposed. I do find it difficult to reconcile this sort of "reality is a battlefield" view with the world in which we find ourselves though: yes, there certainly are obvious spiritual battles, both inner and outer, but there is also so much order, pleasure and goodness, which don't really seem to fit the notion of ongoing warfare.

    But then again, it might just take a sort of squinting to perform the reconciliation. As I wrote in my guest post for Skeptiko a few episodes back, it is possible that some of the things that we experience as "good" or "pleasurable" are, in fact, traps set by the Enemy to ensare us, to sink us even deeper, to hold us back from reclamation into the Good - "blue pills", if you will.

    So, after all, I still find ditheistic moral dualism - despite the difficulty of reconciling it with spiritually transformative experiences (STEs), including near-death experiences, whose message is that "All is Good" and that "God wields ultimate control" - to be the best explanation of and for reality. Can anybody suggest or argue otherwise, or, especially, can anybody perform a tidy reconciliation of this "battlefield" view with those type of "it's all Good" STEs? Are they staged by the demonic? Is it a case of "the darkness appearing as the light"? Is it the demiurge playing tricks on us, boasting of its goodness and omnipotence, fooled into believing it is the Good? But then, why does the demiurge not realise its own fallen nature, if we, its flawed creations, do, and seek salvation from the Good?

    This is confusing territory, I have to admit...
     
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  2. hypermagda

    hypermagda Member

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    My pleasure Alex! I look forward to another great interview with Miguel. And incidentally, I like your style when you interview people, so please don’t make an effort to be sweeter :)

    I’m with you as regards literal interpretations of the Gnostic myth. I have trouble taking anything literally as far as spirituality/religion is concerned. Especially when talking about old myths it seems self-evident to me that, assuming that any Truth was revealed by any higher spiritual entity to some ancient people/individuals, it would have had to be presented to them in terms they could understand and relate to. So taking it literally (in the sense that the Demiurge and the Archons and Sophia are “characters” in a story) would seem to be pretty naive to me.
    This is why I’m not personally very interested in looking at the details of ancient texts (including the Bible) to pinpoint historical mistakes etc. I for one do not take any of this stuff as a faithful description of what happened in “consensus reality".

    As Miguel often says, “write your own Gospel”. That’s what I do - I glean (from any philosophy) what makes sense to me as food for thought and try and define my own (rational and consistent, though unprovable!) theory of what we we might be doing (or are supposed to be doing) in this bizarre existence. Gnosticism is the theory that has provided me with the most convincing insight about the mystery of it all, especially the crucial mystery of ethics, the moral nature of “the Universe” (for lack of a better word). To me that’s the most important thing. Not the HOW, the nitty-gritty of how it works (although that’s interesting too of course) but the WHY. I am open to the possibility that the Truth may not make any ethical sense to me at all - for instance, supposing there is a single entity in charge of all this (which I doubt) I would not be able to consider it benevolent, given that to me the ends do not justify the means (i.e.: being kept in ignorance by an all-powerful being and surrounded by -often- unnecessary suffering, if not directly experiencing it, is not something that I can condone thanks to the prospect of some perfect paradise at the end of our earthly existence, even supposing that this is going to happen). But that is only one of many theories. (And in any case I am not simply going to be subservient to this supposed single entity, just because it is more powerful than me. I'm trying to understand its nature - no way I can say "great, I am not able to comprehend this mystery, so whatever - there must be a God, and I'm going to be his/her/its servant no matter what they are like"). So I am still seeking.

    I take the opportunity to thank Laird for his thought-provoking post (the one just before this one). I will be very happy to reply to it at length when I have more time. Of course I don’t have the ultimate answers, but I have asked myself all those questions and I have some possible answers (maybe)
    Thank you once again Alex for creating Skeptiko (I'll never tire of repeating this!) and a big thank you also to the Skeptiko community for your very valuable contributions. I love it here!
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
  3. Alan Amsberg

    Alan Amsberg New

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    Is this not the story of the Christian Apocalypse? Is this battle not the battle in the Book of Revelation?

    Satan is the "demiurge". He is no equal of God. God can take him out whenever he feels like it and God WILL take him out (in the Revelation). We just have to be patient :)

    Very, very confusing territory!
     
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  4. Alex

    Alex New

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    I agree this is what we're presented with... this is the consensus reality... but I'm also open (as I think you are) to a larger, deeper, grander reality. i.e. I'm not convinced what I experience with my tiny mind is all there is.
     
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  5. Alex

    Alex New

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    well said.

    great example of a uniquely Gnostic sensibility... I love it!

    BTW thx for the kind words about the show... glad we're in the same space :)
     
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  6. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Looking forward to it if/when you find the time!
     
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  7. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Well, I was envisaging more of an ongoing battle (which might have an end), rather than an exclusively end-of-times battle, but sure, there might be one of those too.

    So why the wait, in which billions experience suffering to one degree or another? Why not just take the demiurge/Satan out right now?
     
  8. Alan Amsberg

    Alan Amsberg New

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    An excellent question. I have no answer. However, it is really the same as "why have the world at all". If he doesn't wait, then he might as well not let Satan loose in the first place and really might as well not have created Satan at all. And, of course, if you want no suffering then really you have no world. It is just God being God in the void. By the way, not saying I necessarily agree with this but it is an argument.
     
  9. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Thanks for being big enough to admit that.

    You seem to be implying that Satan is a necessary part of the world - is that what you really believe? Or rather, since you say you don't necessarily agree with the argument you're suggesting, is this in fact a premise of that argument? It doesn't seem to have any basis in fact: a world in which Satan was either not created, or was not allowed loose, seems to me to be perfectly possible, and a better world than one in which, all else being equal, he is both created and allowed loose. Do you agree? If not, why not?

    So, a world without suffering is impossible? You can't believe in heaven, then, can you?

    To be God is "just" to allow your worst enemy to run amok in your Creation?

    No offence, but it seems to me to be an exceptionally weak one.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
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  10. Alan Amsberg

    Alan Amsberg New

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    There are several things here:
    -Do I believe Satan is necessary? Hmmm. Believe is a strong word. It is an idea I can toy with.
    -What would I like? Well, I also have serious problems with the evil in the world. So, I agree with you. If I was in charge of creation then I doubt I would create the world as it is. But, I am not God. I have a puny human brain :)
    -Empirically, I see evidence for God and I see evidence for metaphysical evil. Yet, in all this paranormal stuff, Love also seems to be at the centre. I see this funny book (The Bible) which is very opaque but which does, in my opinion, have something to do with all this crazy stuff. The Bible does promulgate something like this view (God is in charge, Satan exists, Satan is "allowed" to do his thing (for a time)). So, there is a empirical case that this is "the way it is". Is this "moral" or "correct" or "just"? I'm not sure. It all falls into the complex question of "what is God really like" and there, again, I am very aware of my human limitations.

    I do believe in "heaven". I am just saying "this world" would not exist (because it would be the same as heaven).

    I agree that this is very strange.

    Looking at the big picture and temporarily setting aside ethical arguments (which I know are very important), let's pretend that you are building an obstacle course. What kind of obstacle course do you really want? You can build a soft play obstacle course like one for little kids but where's the challenge in that? At the other end, you can build an incredible obstacle course with real land mines, alligator infested swamps and live fire machine gun trip wires. So, which obstacle course is "better". Well, the second course is obviously more "educational". You won't forget it. And, of course, you might be pissed off at the drill sergeant who sent you into it. You might also believe that being sent on the second course is a criminal offence and the drill sergeant should be arrested. Maybe you would be right about that. On the other side, it is a "better course".
     
  11. Laird

    Laird Member

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    You can't be talking about the necessity of modal logic, in which to talk of Satan's "necessary" existence means he would exist in every possible world, since we can clearly imagine possible worlds without him. So you must mean some sort of "conditional necessity" i.e. A is "necessary" in order for B to exist, or A is necessary in virtue of B. So, the question then would be: in virtue of what would Satan be "necessary"?

    If it is impossible for puny human brains to understand God's workings, then why believe anything at all about them? Why not remain utterly agnostic? Why believe in particular that God tolerates suffering (for some incomprehensible higher purpose)?

    There's an alternative which doesn't need to be justified by incomprehensibility: that evil is self-existent, and that God cannot wipe it out, at least for now. Why choose incomprehensibility over comprehensibility (acknowledging that there are difficulties with that view too)?

    OK, but on what basis do you grant empirical authority to the Bible?

    I'm willing to explore this analogy with you. Here are some questions to get started:

    What obstacle in the obstacle course is a molested toddler supposed to be overcoming? It can't be the molestation, because at such a young age, s/he is powerless to avoid it. So, are the obstacles the fear of, and the pain and suffering of, the molestation? If so, are these obstacles that the toddler has any reasonable chance of overcoming? If not, then what is/are the obstacle(s) in terms of your analogy?

    I'm not even mounting an ethical case against your analogy, I'm just asking whether the "obstacle course" of our world is even built such that all obstacles can in principle be overcome - because if not, then it's not really such a good obstacle course after all, is it?
     
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  12. Alan Amsberg

    Alan Amsberg New

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    I am warming to the utterly agnostic view actually! Found this recently which was interesting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Anton_Wilson

    If the heavens were filled with multiple Gods, both good and evil, then their conflict would spill into our world. Now, maybe that is happening. Don't know for sure. But I do know that reality does have "structural integrity". I believe this would be compromised by "war in heaven" and would be apparent down here. All this paranormal stuff remains stubbornly elusive. This would not be true if opposing forces were duking it out.

    When you study all this stuff, you find links from various things into the Bible:
    - Some NDEs feature Jesus etc. Far more than seem to feature the Buddha or other non-western figures.
    - Nick Bunick - http://skeptiko.com/122-reincarnation-of-apostle-paul-nick-bunick-scrutinized/
    - Andy Paquette - some of dreams in his book interlink with Bible themes.
    - Angel stuff from all sorts of people over a long period of time.

    There are other things as well which I can't think of at the moment.

    Of course, it is very complex. The book I mentioned before (Robert Anton Wilson) links into ancient Egyptian mythology. So, there are many links here and there. I am not saying it is exclusive to the Bible. I am just saying that I think when looking at this stuff "in the round" there are links into the Bible and biblical ideas. So, I am not saying the Bible is "the truth". I am just saying it has something to do with "all of this".

    I am not saying the analogy is complete. I am just saying it is an idea. I agree that it is incomprehensible that a loving God would allow a toddler to be molested. How can this be? I have no answer. Maybe I can see that the death of a child can have meaning (http://www.near-death.com/paranormal/angels.html#a03) but I have no answer to the child being molested example.

    Like I said earlier, I am becoming more agnostic about it all all the time!
     
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  13. Alex

    Alex New

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    this film may point toward on possible answer:


    i.e. when we look at things over 100 lifetimes it all looks different. I'm not 100% committed to this view, but it's compelling.
     
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  14. Alan Amsberg

    Alan Amsberg New

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    Yes. Agreed. Thanks. Unlike some, I am unwilling to condemn God. I don't understand why the suffering is here but I do know that I am glad that I'm alive. I'm glad for this gift of life. Who am I to judge God?
     
  15. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    I've always considered the idea of "condemning God" to be misplaced use of terminology. What is actually taking place is that someone postulates an idea of what God might be like, and then condemns their own idea. In itself, that is a positive thing, it is how we move forward, by replacing our obsolete misconceptions with more appropriate ideas. None of this has any effect on the reality. If we have the idea that the moon is made of green cheese and then blame the moon for being smelly, it is simply a nonsense.
     
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  16. Morning Fog

    Morning Fog New

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    This has become an interesting thread. But this struck a nerve with me. Why are you glad you're alive in this physical world where unspeakable suffering exists? Is life here really a gift? I appreciate your thankfulness for this apparent "spiritual boot camp" but I don't tend to see this life as a "gift". That being said ... I am appreciative for the many good things in my current life. However, I tend to think I may enjoy life more on "the other side".

    "Life is a boot camp and school for our soul's spiritual education, and as such, it's tough." (Karen Brannon)
    http://www.near-death.com/science/research/life.html
     
  17. Alex

    Alex New

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    I get it... then again, the tiny voice inside keeps going "be here now."
     
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  18. Morning Fog

    Morning Fog New

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    I agree. And I occasionally hear that same voice encouraging me to "press on ... you have much to learn through this very limited experience." However, calling this physical existence a "gift" may be a stretch.
     
  19. hypermagda

    hypermagda Member

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    I didn't want to participate in this exchange between Laird and Alan because I don't really have the energy (and I'm sure Laird will do a great job of responding to Alan's arguments) but I can't let this statement (or rather rhetorical question) go unchallenged. "Who am I to judge God?" is something I just can't bear to hear in the 21st century. Once again I would like to point out that I don't believe in Alan's God because it is a contradiction in terms (some kind of schizophrenic psychopath). It would indeed be, like Typoz suggested, a smelly being (to say the least) who I sincerely hope doesn't exist. But supposing there was a despicable tyrant God like that out there - say, the God of the Old Testament, and he told you, Alan, as he allegedly told Abraham: "Go and kill your son just because I say it", would you do it?? "Who am I to judge God?" implies that you would agree even with that and do what he asks. LOGICALLY. That's horrific and I feel sorry for you (and for the rest of us) because it's the attitude of religious fanatics like Islamic terrorists and the like. Even if there was a God like yours out there, we should definitely judge him - and, if necessary, disagree with what he has done, or would like us to do. And do our own thing!
     
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  20. Can we judge our parents? Cooks who make our meals? Mechanics who repair our cars?

    If so why would God be in a separate category?
     
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