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    Dennett's Future of Religion Part 2: Transformation
    By Samuel Kenyon | November 14th 2010 09:29 PM | 19 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Software engineer, AI researcher, interaction designer (IxD), actor, writer, atheist transhumanist. My blog will attempt to synthesize concepts...

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    As I first mentioned in a previous Science 2.0 post, a month ago I took a walk to Cabot Auditorium at Tufts University to see a presentation by philosopher Daniel C. Dennett, who is also one of the "four horsemen" of New Atheism.

    Dennett discussed three of his potential futures for religion, mostly the third possibility:
    1. Religion will sweep the planet.
    2. Religion is in its death throes.
    3. Religion transforms into creedless moral teams (ceremony and tradition, but no doctrine).
    Dennett made compelling arguments for #3, and some possible projects atheist groups could do to help that path.  For instance, some preachers are pretending to be religious, but they don't believe the doctrine.  I would assume that many politicians also pretend to be religious to attract (or at least not scare away) voters.

    In March 2010, Dennett and Linda LaScola released a report of five interviews of Protestant pastors who are not believers.  Here's a few excerpts:
    Our sample is small and self-selected, and it is not surprising that all of our pastors think that they are the tip of an iceberg, but they are also utterly unable to confirm this belief.  They might be deluding themselves, but in any case their isolation from others whom they suspect are in the same boat is a feature they all share, in spite of striking differences in their stories and attitudes.  While we couldn’t draw any reliable generalizations from such a small sample of clergy, the very variety of their stories, as well as the patterns discernible in them, suggest fascinating avenues for further research on this all but invisible phenomenon.
    This constant spin doctoring takes its toll, apparently, but it also subverts a mission that the liberal pastors claim for themselves: staying in the church in order to liberalize it, in order to make it a saner, wiser, more tolerant institution. “My goal is to become obsolete,” says Wes. And according to Rick,   
     
    “One of my strategies to stay in the church, is to change the church.  I mean, I
    want the church to hear this stuff!  I want the church to deal with me.  I want the church to know that there’s a progressive way of thinking out there.  I want the church to know that there are people who are thinking really radical stuff about theology.”  
     
    Bit by bit, day by day, they would like to lift their parishioners closer to their own way of seeing the world, but by not speaking their minds, their sincere minds, they squander most of the opportunities to lead their congregations to new ways of thinking. In fact, there is a sort of Hippocratic Oath that all five seem to follow: In the first place, do no damage to any parishioner’s beliefs.  Sometimes this is obviously the right thing to do, what anyone would do:  
     
    “But he’s still dying of cancer; [his faith is] not changing the situation.  It’s changing his acceptance of things; it’s allowing him to cope with it.  And I’m certainly not going to pull that rug out from under him.” (Darryl)   
     
    And sometimes concern for others is arguably the dominant motive:

    “I say I never try to take away from somebody something they believe unless I
    can put something better in its place, as opposed to just attacking.” (Rick)  But other times this policy seems more self-protective than altruistic:   “So it’s like you want to build their faith, not tear down their faith.  So you do your work carefully.” (Adam)   
     
    Do they ever volunteer their radical ideas to parishioners?  One tactic they have discovered is the book club or study group, where self-selected parishioners get to read one of the controversial books...Those who participate are alerted to the nature of the materials in advance and are then gently encouraged to discuss the ideas, in an unusually tolerant atmosphere, a sort of holiday from the constraints of dogma. Here the pastors can demonstrate their open-mindedness and willingness to take these shocking ideas seriously, and let the authors be the mouthpieces for what is in their hearts. Again, they need to have plausible deniability: they aren’t preaching these ideas, just acquainting their parishioners—those who are interested—with them. Not surprisingly, they draw a sharp distinction between what they can say from the pulpit, and what
    they can say in these less official circumstances.
    Some of these atheist clergy are planning to leave their church jobs.  But if some exploit their insider positions to successful transform their churches--albeit not easy tasks--it could contribute to possible future #3.

    There is the possibility for atheist or secular groups to compete with churches, which accelerates #3, e.g. to maintain numbers the churches have to offer what the competitors offer.  But will religion die out completely that way, or will it still be resident, just in weaker forms?  Can competition happen in the schools for children, so that more people put their children in secular schools instead of being brainwashed from day one?

    On an atheist forum, I asked (in reference to Dennett's three potential futures): Which do you think is most likely, and why?  What could we do to help steer to that path?

    One commenter said:
    To achieve Dennet's #3 scenario will be difficult though...I foresee that #1 is going to be a big wave which will try to obliterate atheism through the deployment of the massive resources religions have at their disposal...this is atheism's Achilles heel. We are not organised or able to muster the resources they can.
    Atheism cannot compete with churches in a head-on confrontational approach. It needs clever strategies almost a guerilla-type of approach which is able to think like the enemy (SunTzu).
    My reply to that is that it's not necessarily a matter of a clandestine operation knocking down the supports and then watching the churches and temples crumble (metaphorically). There is also the positive and most likely completely public and transparent projects and teams that atheists can do. There are a few secular organizations that give aid and stuff like that. But there could be millions started up to do all kinds of educations, good will, etc. projects.

    So atheist groups might compete with religion on the education and good will front. And non-religious groups could compete with religious organizations as far as moral teams and tribes/families. This sociocultural tribe aspect is the tricky one.  I suspect with just the idea of trying to be proactive for good projects, non-religious people can utilize the Internet to get things going.  For example, Meetup.com has 7.2 million members and 79,000 local groups (according to their about page)[http://www.meetup.com/about/].  Meetups are organized on the web but extend out into the real world.

    Of course, as Science 2.0 writer Rycharde Manne commented in my previous blog post about the future of religion:
    To attempt to create an ersatz religion by aping the propagandist elements of established religions looks like a million steps backwards.
    I agree.  So any attempts to compete with religion have to avoid ending up being religious-like shells themselves with unethical practices and centralized authorities dictating doctrine.

    Some atheists who responded to my questions think that humans in general are still holding on to tradition and superstition, but they are starting to become non-believers and are just going through the motions of various traditions.  One commenter said:
    Number three seems to be a stride towards or perhaps even a symptom of religion being in its death throes, not its own separate category, which is where I think all modern evidence is heading. New Age spirituality advanced by books like The Secret or Deepak Chopra's "quantum theory" woo-woo proves that people are looking for a way to make sense of the crap that's been fed to them for so many years, and are not capable of shedding superstitions just yet, but realize there's something wrong. The idea of being alone with each other is very sobering and scary for a lot of people, but with the information explosion of the internet it is just so much harder to buy the lie.

    Comments

    Gerhard Adam
    I think part of the problem is that we under-estimate what constitutes a religious belief.  In my view, there are three primary human creations that influence the average person;  religion, politics, and science.  All three have a common theme in that "someone is looking out for their problems/interests".   While religion is often viewed as being superstition and tradition, is it any less so with the platitudes of politics or science? 

    Each has their "true believers" who invariably base their belief on the notion that someone is working on solving their problems.  Whether one invokes God, or the government, or some medical miracle, they all are based on belief and not knowledge.  So while it is certainly plausible that a religion based on a the beliefs of a nomadic desert people from 2000 years ago may be a bit anachronistic, it would be unduly optimistic to think that it wouldn't be just as readily replaced by a more up to date version.
    Mundus vult decipi
    SynapticNulship
    So while it is certainly plausible that a religion based on a the
    beliefs of a nomadic desert people from 2000 years ago may be a bit
    anachronistic, it would be unduly optimistic to think that it wouldn't
    be just as readily replaced by a more up to date version.

    Well, Dennett started on a certain track with the phrase "What Should Replace Religions?"  So, would the speculative search space be different if we start with a different question-set, like, what infrastructures or organizations will anchor human beliefs in the future?  How rapidly can sets of beliefs change within a generation?  And you could have the similar related question about tribes--where, who, what, and how will humans interact with tribes and what overlaps with belief changes do those have?
    Gerhard Adam
    Actually part of my point is that we wouldn't recognize such an event if it occurred.  After all, it's not like people sat around and planned the development of Christianity (or any other religion).  It was simply something that enough people accepted (for whatever reason) until it reached a critical mass and became the norm.  It's no different than how various native religions formed a hybrid with the beliefs of earlier missionaries so that there is a adaptation of such beliefs to the culture (such as Voodoo or Santeria).

    We see similar things today where people are struggling between science, political,  and religious beliefs with some proposing that they can all coexist.  Similarly others are adopting all manner of "New Age" beliefs into traditional religious or scientific contexts.

    At this point, none of these are substantive enough to represent a serious conflict among all the competing beliefs because none address any outstanding problem/issue that people are dealing with.  As a result, these are largely beliefs of luxury that we can afford to argue and disagree about.  In part, we may never see such a consolidation of beliefs because there are simply too many people and too many divergent views to ever form a cohesive group such as occurred with smaller tribal cultures.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Aitch
    For me, the main problem caused by the posing of the 3 questions, is that religion is present in all of them, but religiousness doesn't get given consideration
    Too many people see religion as involving an external 'being' whether that be a 'saviour', a 'god' or a substitute in the form of a pastor/priest/whatever, yet few have considered the inner path
     - meditation, to be the source of original religious experience, or religiousness
    It is distinct from other 'beliefs' in that being experiential, it is more than a faith or belief
    It is possible to change a faith or belief, but not an experience
    Others can tell you your faith or belief is awry, but not your experience
    For me, 'New Age' is simply the ability to explore without the constraints imposed under the doctrine of religion, or the culture of group imposed belief, where fear is the glue binding people to the belief, rather than certainty that the path be true
    New Age represents a rebirth of the old age less the morality, to many, which doesn't go far enough in terms of providing the aspiration for a humanity that desperately needs some guidance, as to whither to go with its exploring nature that will not result in self destruct

    To me, the journey 'in', is the best way to find 'out'.....think about it!

    [I am not expecting a saviour to do it for me.......again]

    Aitch
    SynapticNulship
    It is possible to change a faith or belief, but not an experience

    It is quite possible to change one's recollection of an experience.  People confabulate and modify their memories all the time.

    Others can tell you your faith or belief is awry, but not your experience

    I suspect you have committed yourself to a certain philosophy of mind in which your privileged access to your own consciousness produces infallible memories and reports which nobody else could possibly debate or understand.
    Aitch
    I suspect you have committed yourself to a certain philosophy of mind in which your privileged access to your own consciousness produces infallible memories and reports which nobody else could possibly debate or understand.
    Not at all, however, direct personal experience can be used best in analogy, I find, since this gives rise to those 'Ah!' moments in others, who may gain insight from a trodden path
    I did not intend to declare memories or their recollection to be infallibilities, since often that is their very purpose
    People are too stuck with notions of not making mistakes, yet the best lessons learned are those by experience, often of repetition of doing the 'wrong thing'
    However many recollections are not of analysis of thoughts or processes, but of mood, emotion, feeling, or inspiration, which anyone can know of, but not necessarily have an understanding
    It is quite possible to change one's recollection of an experience. People confabulate and modify their memories all the time.
    Yes, some people do, but it depends as to what significance the memory exists - say for example something learned about ones-self, whilst clinging to the edge of a cliff or mountainside, never having thought of yourself as having the strength to deal with extremes, and having to be watchful of the mindgames that could lead to letting go, when holding on is required for survival

    I do not think of access to consciousness as being 'mine' alone, though there is an inevitable feeling of being privileged to have it, as it is, I'm sure, accessible to all who would venture
    I am in the habit, merely of saying, 'thank you' to the [unknown/unknowable?] source for that privilege

    Aitch
    Gerhard Adam
    Others can tell you your faith or belief is awry, but not your experience.
    Sorry, but I have to disagree.  While I don't know what your particular experience has been nor specifically what you believe, I can tell you unequivocally that most people's experience are equally suspect.  In fact, without meaning an particular criticism of your own beliefs, I think that placing "experience" on such a pedestal is precisely what gives rise to the zealot and fanatic.

    The point of the scientific method was to develop an objective means of trying to ascertain the "truth" and repeatability of our experiences.  So to place too much credence on one's experience is to ignore the lessons of history regarding our personal fallibility.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Aitch
    As I said previously, 'It is possible to change a faith or belief, but not an experience'
    Whilst you are indeed welcome to disagree, you must agree that the experience itself cannot be undone
    My recall of it may vary with time and further experience, but I firmly believe the original experience and its immediate effect upon my psyche, to be exactly as intended, to be drawn on when required, and suited to circumstance in the moment
    We know that time is a construct, and the recall of a moment is part of that construct
    My changing my personal perception or recall does not however have any influence retrogressively on the moment of occurrence, which remains intact in history
    Whilst you may believe that people's experience is suspect, there can be no evidence for such a notion, and the collective experience of humanity being intact, as it is, would seem to be against you
    I don't think experience should be put on a pedestal, nor denigrated out of hand....it just is what it is, and as I said, a variable recall is as far as I'm aware, an intrinsic quality of the mind's functioning, in being a simulator of simultaneous multiple universes
    Whilst it may be true that Scientific method is to produce objective means of trying to ascertain the truth, the truth is as valid in the subjective inner universe and the source against which the objective is measured and defined
    How else would we say with any certainty, 'I know that', other than having a direct inner awareness of the truth

    Personal fallibility is not a flaw, but a part of a process known as learning from experience, and I wouldn't wish to be without it - zealots and all
    Sadly, it is a reality that Science will not rid the world of zealotry, but greater collective inner awareness might

    Aitch
    Gerhard Adam
    Whilst you may believe that people's experience is suspect, there can be no evidence for such a notion, and the collective experience of humanity being intact, as it is, would seem to be against you
    Unless I'm misunderstanding something you're saying, experience is always suspect and it hardly ever holds up when more than two people share it.  While I can certainly believe that some event may trigger a psychological reaction, that may or may not be profound to the individual involved, it does nothing to validate the "experience" itself.  I'm not sure what you mean by the "collective experience of humanity", but I am quite confident that there are few people who's experience are not suspect, if presented as objective truth.  If they are to be considered merely personal, then there is no difference between experience and imagination, since neither can be confirmed, nor does either actually require existence.
    We know that time is a construct, and the recall of a moment is part of that construct
    Sorry, but we can't even be confident that what we recall ever occurred, let alone that it is a part of any real experience.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Aitch
    I think you must be misunderstanding something, as I know of no way 2 people can share an experience, unless they co-locate in space and time, in which happenstance, I don't know of anyone recalling such an experience
    Sorry, but we can't even be confident that what we recall ever occurred, let alone that it is a part of any real experience.
    Wow! For a scientist bent on acquiring certainty based on a method for ascertaining the truth, your world view appears far more fragile than I had previously perceived it to be
    You appear to me to be a contradiction in terms, since you have an element of positive confirmation bias in your methodology, yet a confirmation dearth in terms of inner truth or experience upon which to balance your method

    The 'collective experience of humanity' is all that we are at this point in time, however as to what the reality of the world is that we live in and our part in it......well therein lies the difficulty I believe you struggle with, in trying to define what may be indefinable

    I have only awareness of the difference between logic and intuition, and their relative importance for our futures, to offer, as an attempt at illumination of the difficulty we all face overstanding it

    Note: I have said previously that overstanding is required where understanding fails
    If they are to be considered merely personal, then there is no difference between experience and imagination, since neither can be confirmed, nor does either actually require existence.
    For me, the obvious difference between experience and imagination, is that I don't have an appointment booked with a 'trick cyclist', and I exist, apparently in both my experience and yours, to which you are responding - which I doubt would be occurring if I were merely in my own imagination  ;-)

    Even that doubt comes from within....as does my trust of it, as a part of my knowing, despite my not being able to prove it

    It would make me totally discontent to be searching for such an elusive proof, as you appear to be

    Aitch
    Richard King
    I think you must be misunderstanding something, as I know of no way 2 people can share an experience, unless they co-locate in space and time, in which happenstance, I don't know of anyone recalling such an experience.
    Henry/Aitch: I have had shared experiences. How many do you want? I have recalled the better part of a dozen, of various forms, while writing this. One that, in particular, came to mind is in the book. When I come across it, as I reread the manuscript, I can post it.

    Sorry, but we can't even be confident that what we recall ever occurred, let alone that it is a part of any real experience.
    Gerhard: Prove that your experience of what you, we, call, understand as, physical reality is real.

    I wrote a response to the blog as a whole; unfortunately, it ended up longer than the original blog, though I might post it anyway.
    Gerhard Adam
    The distinction I'm making is the problem of considering an "experience" versus our interpretation of that "experience".  People routinely experience ghosts, or UFO's, or other phenomenon that have no basis in reality.  This occurs because two people sharing the same experience may have vastly different interpretations of what occurred.  While one individual sees a bright light and concludes that this is visiting aliens, someone else looks at it and thinks it is merely a reflection of a bright light for an unusual angle.

    So which represents the real shared experience? 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Aitch
    Gerhard
    I have to re-post this section of my original, to set the context
    Too many people see religion as involving an external 'being' whether that be a 'saviour', a 'god' or a substitute in the form of a pastor/priest/whatever, yet few have considered the inner path
    - meditation, to be the source of original religious experience, or religiousness
    It is distinct from other 'beliefs' in that being experiential, it is more than a faith or belief
    It is possible to change a faith or belief, but not an experience
    Others can tell you your faith or belief is awry, but not your experience
    It may be that I implied but did not specify that I was referring to an inner [religious] experience, not an external one, or witnessing, and this has caused a shift of focus and misunderstanding, for which I apologise
    I would though state that for an external experience, witnessing, synchronicity is not possible in both space and time, given current knowledge of the nature of existence,....so what is being shared, other than being a witness?
    The example you cite, of a bright light, I would not think of as shared other than sharing the room/space near to where something occurred, and neither person actually experienced the occurrence of light at all, and as many interpretations as are people could exist, post event, and maybe more, all equally real to the person concerned
    My original use however was more the sort of inner voice or sensation experience, which in my understanding caused a paradigm shift in my understanding of something, at that precise moment
    I have experienced events that appear to defy explanation in logic, which I'm sure Richard could also attest to

    Richard
    Glad to see you aren't a ghost...[your photo often suggests your presence even though you don't appear to post as much as visit/read.]
     Also, though, since I had not had a reply to an email I sent you some time ago, I did wonder whether you had become dissolved into the channel for Lorelei, who was the real human, experiencing your presence from another plane.....
    Was that the kind of shared experience you had in mind, or can you elucidate a little?

    Aitch
    Gerhard Adam
    My original use however was more the sort of inner voice or sensation experience, which in my understanding caused a paradigm shift in my understanding of something, at that precise moment
    OK, I can see what you're saying in that context.  As you know, I've posted many times regarding the role of belief systems and the point that they don't necessarily have to be true, only useful.  As a result, in that sense, no experience needs to be interpreted beyond the individual (assuming it is considered for "internal use only").

    I suppose in my interpretation, I would view such an event as a kind of "alignment" of an individual's beliefs or worldview.  These are often experienced as a kind of insight, without necessarily carrying the connotation that they are true or even verifiable.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Aitch
    I suppose in my interpretation, I would view such an event as a kind of "alignment" of an individual's beliefs or worldview. These are often experienced as a kind of insight, without necessarily carrying the connotation that they are true or even verifiable.
    There you have it!
    I believe the conventional phrase is 'Atonement', or as I prefer, 'At-one-ment'
    As a result, in that sense, no experience needs to be interpreted beyond the individual (assuming it is considered for "internal use only").
    Although people tend to get questioned a lot about their beliefs and inner thought processes, so sharing is sometimes needed  ;-)

    Aitch
    Richard King
    Richard
    Glad to see you aren't a ghost...[your photo often suggests your presence even though you don't appear to post as much as visit/read.]
    Also, though, since I had not had a reply to an email I sent you some time ago, I did wonder whether you had become dissolved into the channel for Lorelei, who was the real human, experiencing your presence from another plane.....
    Was that the kind of shared experience you had in mind, or can you elucidate a little?

    Henry/Aitch
    Oh, but I am a “ghost”, it is just that I have a physical component as well, at present, to go with the non-physical, which makes me visible to those who cannot see beyond the physical.

    My photo often appears because I keep many, too many, windows and tabs open on my computer; I tend to research as I write, among other things, which is also time consuming; see below. So, when my computer is on, which is more or less all the time except overnight, or on “Hibernate” when I go out, it is linked to the Scientific Blogging, Science 2.0 site for many hours at a stretch. I often look in but do not contribute as much as I should, or wish to, again see below.

    I did not write any blogs for a while and, during that time, the link to enable me to do so disappeared from my accounts page. I have thought of asking for it back on several occasions, there are matters about which I would like to write, though I am no longer sure how anything more than a smidgen away from the mainstream would be. Even so there are many mainstream matters in which I have an interest, particularly after the General Election and the new Coalition Government coming into being; I live in Havant, Hampshire and my local Member of Parliament is David Willets, the Minster for Universities. About the time of the Election, actually just before, David Willetts (www.conservatives.com/People/Members_of_Parliament/Willetts_David.aspx; www.davidwilletts.co.uk) published a book “The Pinch: How the baby boomers stole their children’s future – and why they should give it back” (www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/07/the-pinch-david-willetts), about how us “baby-boomers” have done very well for ourselves but not give anything much back”; I have done not as well as I might, thanks to local events and actually been prevented by David Willets’ constituency from doing so; so there is a technology, economics, business oriented contribution to start with, some of the science involved being the science part of material technology, specifically non-metallic materials.

    I have a problem with writing in that I spend too much time on it, trying to get it “right”, then often do not make use of what I have written anyway. There are several contributions that are still on my computer but, because they “grew like topsy” and so seemed too big, ungainly, or for other reasons, I did not post them.

    I have also managed to get back to the book manuscript, now finished, with the corrections suggested by my editor, Sylvie Lucas, as well as many of my own. I am currently ploughing through the rereads and still finding wording and punctuation not to my liking, as well as other matters. My wife, Jo, is pushing me to get it finished, having been hesitant in the past; I still do not think she realizes how much it will catapult her into the public domain. To some extent that is why, after a computer problem interrupted the flow of events in November 2007, I hesitated, almost settling for a low level comfort zone; it is not just the expected eruption of publicity connected with the book, there is also a certain matter of local government corruption and a cover-up, which is the reason for present circumstances; all, or nothing, no in between.

    I have not deliberately ignored your E-mail. I keep meaning to do something about it. We are exceptionally busy, despite our strange circumstances, and the time seems to go very quickly.

    I have not dissolved into anything with Lorelei, not yet, although I have been given te impression that when the time comes t may well be a quick transition Home; many years ago I was given an image of her ladyship dropping in and bot of us going up like Superman and Lois Lane, except that she would be the one doing the “driving”.

    Actually, as Jo has gone to a Denvilles Women’s Institute skittles evening, I moved my laptop into the lounge to write this while watching the England France match at Wembley (the lounge television is larger); soon afterwards my head started fizzing on the left side, as is often the case, so I went to get another chair for Lorelei; keeps niggling me to finish this if I go back to the game too much. I am not sure that I mentioned her on here before, so presume that you looked me up on the Internet; easily found, admittedly.

    I owe other people E-mails as well. I tend to keep putting off replying until I have finished the book manuscript, in order to put pressure on myself to finish it, except that such strategies do not work very well. The psychology of letting go of manuscripts is interesting and, apparently, the letting go problem is very common, according to an author and university lecturer I met a t a book signing in Chichester a few months ago. I keep getting nudges, pushes and opportunities to “stir things up” but there is not the time to follow them all up and my planning, prioritising, is not what it should be. In many ways I feel that I have let some people down; on the other hand, a number of people, including Sylvie Lucas, have maintained tat the book will go when it is meant to do so.

    The other development during the hang-ups, hiatus, etc., is that I have been studying the history and philosophy of engineering, the latter being a relatively recent development, at least to any great extent, depth. As a result I have concluded that the engineering method is more powerful, more useful and more likely to make progress than the scientific method. The goal of engineering is to “cause the best change in a poorly understood situation within the available resources”. There are no hang-ups about whether something is scientific or not, etc. all tat maters is an improvement on the existing situation. I am intending to use any gains from the book and connected situations to fund research on that basis, that approach. I have already discussed it with a representative of a university who I met during a business meeting at the Rose Bowl (www.rosebowlplc.com/home/the-rose-bowl) in Hampshire, early this year. She recommended a professor who she thought would be flexible enough and also happens to have connections with my University, Brunel.

    Yes, some of the shared experiences that I had in mind do involve Lorelei. The main one of which I was thinking is towards the latter part of the book, certainly after the opening “main event” Chapter and the four retrospective Chapters. I will try to find that one and lift the words directly from the manuscript by the weekend. In the meantime, a simple one, or two.

    Back in the 1990s, on one of the evenings I went to our Healers Group, Lorelei came in with me. Judy said,
    “Oh, she’s wearing pink tonight.”
    Lorelei was wearing pink.

    Many years later, after Sylvie Lucas came on the scene, I was giving Sylvie healing when I saw Lorelei “lift her out”. I was left with Sylvie’s physical component, “shell”, while she was off somewhere else. In due course Lorelei returned with Sylvie and she become one, once again with her physical self. Afterwards Sylvie told me that Lorelei had indeed taken her off for a very pleasant experience.

    I was writing a response to Gerhard when you comments came up. I will now try to get back to those.
    Richard King
    Gerhard:
    People routinely experience ghosts, or UFO's, or other phenomenon that have no basis in reality.

    That is a valid opinion; it is not something that you can prove. Anyway, which reality? If physical reality is real, prove that it is.

    I have no strong opinions on UFOs, other than that the chance of there being no other form of physical life in the Universe as being, for practical purposes, zero. There are several phenomena that can be interpreted as being “ghosts” from time slips and other “breakdowns” in the illusion of physical reality to people who are not currently physical.

    This occurs because two people sharing the same experience may have vastly different interpretations of what occurred.

    The shared experiences, of which I was thinking, involved shared views of what happened, at a level not perceivable by those limited to the physical senses. There are many cases on which we do agree on what is happening.

    For example, in the early 1990s, I was involved a group run by a woman by the name of Yvonne. On one occasion we went to the top of Old Winchester Hill (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Winchester_Hill, www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=4731), in Hampshire as Yvonne said she was aware there were some prominent, strong, energies there at that time. All that I could make out was some wispy grey moving about in the distance, well above ground level. When I said as much to Yvonne, she confirmed that was it.

    Yvonne spent many nights “teleconferencing”, visiting other people, though not at the physical level. On one evening she said there were a number of groups communicating and she suggested we try to tune in to them. I did not pick up much in connection with a group in the Mediterranean area but, after them I was sensing “fire and ice”, then seeing a very rough cold sea, waves crashing onto jagged rocks at the bottom of a cliff; that particular group, I was informed was in a castle on the coast of Iceland.

    Then there are the shared experiences I posted in response to Henry/Aitch.

    There is science tat can at least touch on such matters, though the nature of the subject matter, field of study, is such that any science applied is assumed to be, is described as invalid, simply on the basis of what is being studied, unless the results come out the “right way”, of course, then the science becomes valid, or at lest more valid.
    SynapticNulship
    I would like to return to Aitch's original comments.  Aitch indicated that religions are usually structured with external god(s) or spirit(s), and that instead they could use meditation and an "inner path."

    Now, as a replacement for popular religious faith in gods/spirits, there is something potentially valuable there:

    1. At least people are thinking for themselves and not brainwashed by a set of fairy tales and associated dogma.  Also, there is certainly nothing wrong with training oneself for increased metacognition (a subset of which is popularly called "mindfulness").

    2. One can and should absolutely partake in and enjoy various experiences--music, dance, extreme sports, drugs, flow in your job, whatever floats your boat--which many others would claim are "spiritual" or "religious".  And these don't require a specific dogma or church or anything, just being a homo sapiens is enough.

    The bad part about the "inner path" is:

    1. Not well defined.  I still am not sure what Aitch actually thinks that means.
        
    2. The risk of going so far in the extreme away from accepting a central authority's story that one now no longer listens to suggestions of _anyone_ regardless of whether they are right or wrong.  I.e., your inner path makes you think you can see ghosts and no suggestions or evidence to the contrary will convince you otherwise.  There's a balance that can be found: you experience something, and you investigate all possible reasons you might have had that experience.  Most people don't know how to problem solve or debug, so they draw conclusions prematurely.  

    3. A lot of so-called personal "inner path" conversations sound suprisingly all the same.  People may think they are being individuals with their own unique psionic super powers, like X-Men or something.   Yet they are all the same type of primate in relatively similar environments.  They will probably come up with similar experiences.  The interpretations will be very similar as well the closer people are in culture and influences.
    Aitch
    Mindfulness....mmm that's certainly a component of mind, ....different to thinking or logicality, and not concentration, though often confused with it...

    But what seems to unsettle many people, scientists especially, is that there is an experiential component to the inner journey which affects the physical being, having both an energy giving rise to movement, without muscular exertion, sometimes as if pushed, sometimes as if guided, sometimes just a flow, as in dance, as well as an electrical component, giving rise to sensations such as skin feeling touched, hair lifted, draughts, smells, auditory signals, tastes, flashing lights, shadows, and gravitational effects, of feeling either light or heavy
    There are also historical components, i.e. time components...like a Tardis, as used by Dr Who

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/

    .....and apparitions

    In fact, all manner of things to test your faith, to challenge your beliefs, to make you question, and even be afraid......and you thought you'd covered the bad part about the inner journey......

    not even close  ;-)

    Yet only by embarking on this inner journey, can one truly say they know anything, for all else is second hand knowledge, gleaned from someone else's journey

    It's a risk I welcome

    Aitch