A REVIEW OF SELECTED RECENT* BOOKS
IN WRITING THIS REVIEW
a friend named Bob Frame who lurks in Nebraska's grandest metropolis, sent
me some impressions and quotes from a very recent book on the afterlife,
"Life on the Other Side. A Psychic's Tour of the Afterlife," by Sylvia
Browne with Lindsay Harrison, (Dutton, New York, 2000).He
hinted that I might not like it since I did not like Bettie Eadie's book "Embraced
by the Light," Bettie J. Eadie with Curtis Taylor, (Gold Leaf Press 1992)
because of its incredible specificity and certainty about afterlife "things"
that I had different opinions about. Of course the trap was set. I had
to obtain and read the Browne book. I did, I took notes. I did not like
what it had to say about some aspects of life after death, but I liked
what it had to say about other aspects. I did find it a fascinating read.
refresh my memory, I went back and re-read the Eadie book, and to be fairer
to Eadie I also obtained copies of her two more recent books and read major
portions of them. And took notes. Also, while looking, ran across a delightful
(to me, I am prejudiced) description of a person becoming one with God
in a small book by called "The
Other Side of Death"by Jan Price (Fawcett Columbine, New York, 1996).
of this reminded me, midway through the reading, of two other books. One
of Souls, Case Studies of Lives Between Lives" by Michael Newton (Llewellyn
Publications, St. Paul, 1994) recommended some years ago by a person
in Texas who knows a lot about these things from her own experience. I
looked for my copy at home, but, serendipitously, could not find it. Went
to the bookstore and instead found its sequel, "Destiny
of Souls, New Case Studies of Life Between Lives" by Michael Newton (Llewellyn
Publications, St. Paul, 2000) greatly expanded and enlarged in terms
of case studies (regressions to lives between lives) and thus in terms
of descriptive materials. I liked that book a lot, although I also disbelieve
much of what it says.
I plowed through all this material taking notes, I was amused by the fact
that there was a time when I basked in and believed in all of the very
same materialisms and specificities that extend the hierarchies and problems
of earth life into the spirit world. That sort of stuff bothers me no end,
now. But in my decades as a deeply believing Mormon, I was convinced of
the truth of many of the very things reflected in all of these books. So,
just for completing the loop between my old beliefs and my new un-beliefs,
I went on a search for my primary Mormon text on the topic.
in the late 1960's, when I was still a relatively new Mormon, I really
liked a book called "Life
Everlasting" by Duane Crowther (Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1964). Miraculously,
as soon as I began to search for it, it fell at my feet off an unstable
stack of books in the back of my closet! The book is a mix of near-death
experiences, dreams and visitations, official and unofficial pronouncements
of men thought of as prophets in the Mormon culture, and cites from the
four books of Mormon scripture (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants,
Pearl of Great Price). I recall being excited and enthused by its descriptions
of life after death, in the 60's and 70's, especially in their very specific
descriptions of spirit bodies, and the duties and work places of spirits.
The doctrines of eternal (monogamous or polygynous) marriage, eternal procreation,
and other things pertaining to achieving a deified status was inspiring
to me at that time. Now? Well, I covered that elsewhere on my websites.
thing that is interesting, to me, is that the Crowther book predated the
ground-breaking book by Raymond Moody called "Life
After Life, The Investigation of a Phenomenon-Survival of Bodily Death,"
(Bantam Books, New York, 1975). After Moody, it seems everyone, almost,
sees a tunnel and a bright light at the end with a loving personage in
it, as part of their journey into the world of spirits. The Crowther book,
however, skips all of that as if it isn't known, and moves right into the
reception of the spirit into the spirit world. One account speaks of a
spirit passing through a curtain, or veil.
book is memorable to me because I recall my father making a long-distance
call to me, very unusual. He was excited about something he had seen on
television, an interview with Dr. Moody, and said he felt this man knew
what he was talking about and was telling things as they were. He had a
book out, my father said. I obtained and read the book right away and even
exchanged letters with Dr. Moody, telling him about my own experience and,
more importantly, letting him know about Crowther's book. I was trying
to get him to read, and hopefully be impressed by, the fact that there
was Mormon literature on this subject, and I wanted him to be impressed
by its content. I was doing missionary work, in other words. After one
letter each, that was it. Oh well. But at that time I recall telling my
father that I believed in Moody's account of the afterlife.
own experience? I had a lucid dream in the middle of a normal night that
is hard to forget, before Moody's book, in which I moved slowly from a
dark area toward an ever expanding region of light (bluish-white) and felt
the presence of a person I presumed to be Jesus Christ behind that light.
As I approached I became scared that if I moved into it, I would never
come back. I knew from that point forward that there was an overpowering
love awaiting me when I would leave this world, but I tried my best to
turn around and scramble back to the world I was currently alive in. And
that ended the lucid dream.
to an extent, I am a believer. I have had that little experience, and reinterpreted
it many times, but never doubted the reality of it. It pales in comparison
with the tales of otherworldly-adventures told in these books. But it is
mine, mine to interpret and reinterpret as I see fit. The experiences of
others I do not doubt, but their interpretations? Well, much of the interpretive
assertions of very sincere and thoughtful people I seriously doubt, just
as I came to doubt and thus revise my own initial interpretations of my
own minuscule experience!
also read books, back in the seventies and eighties, by several others,
including Kenneth Ring and Melvin Morse. I carried on a bit of a letter
exchange with Morse as well, telling him about the Crowther book and suggesting
he also look into Medieval mystical revelations. I also told him I took
exception to the theories of ... on the creation of consciousness through
some sort of breakdown inside the brain that happened sometime toward the
beginning of recorded history. I told him that was ludicrous, and have
since created several website articles on the subject.
imagine my surprise and delight while stabbing around in bookstores and
libraries that I found recent books by Moody, Ring and Morse. I eagerly
read all three and was surprised by their content. Really surprised by
two of them, and pleased with the third. Did Morse look into the Mormon
near-death experiences (NDEs) and mysticism? Of course. Did he throw over
the theory on the bicameral mind breaking down allowing consciousness?
Of course not, he restated it so it almost makes sense even to me. But
I am getting ahead of myself.
FOR THIS REVIEW OF BOOKS ON THE AFTERLIFE
want to go from the heights of the latest review books by giants in the
near-death experience (NDE) field, to the more detailed and personal accounts
in the other books I read. It seems a good organizing scheme to proceed
that way. So we will look at Moody's last book, Ring's last book, and Morse's
last book, and draw some observations from them.
will then look at one more review book, one highly praised by Morse. Then
we will go into having some fun with the more personal books. Fun? Oh,
in case you don't know me, I am even going to have fun with, or poke some
fun at, the reviewed books. But I am sorry if it offends you, but I must
get this off my chest: there are some ridiculous things in some of these
books, as well as some wonderful and sublime things. In my opinion, of
course. But I'll call them as I see them, and am ever ready to express
my displeasure when someone, I believe, is self-deceived and wishes to
share that deception or even insists it must be believed.
WHERE I AM: IS THERE A GOD? IS THERE
A LIFE AFTER LIFE?
I need to make two confessions, the first
is that I am not convinced that there is either a God or an afterlife.
I cherish and believe in the reality of my experience, yes, and intuitively
interpret them in a way that suggests I believe in both. But setting aside
intuition and concentrating on the analytical tools of my brain leads me
to confess that I do not see my experiences as proof in the accepted scientific
sense of that word. As you will see after the first two books are reviewed
below, this puts my in Raymond Moody's camp intellectually, and in Kenneth
These two questions about God and afterlife
existence are related, and we will explore the latter to a greater extent,
but always in the context of the former. And there is no bottom line that
you can fast-forward to. This is simply an exploration of recent work on
the God-brain connection, some work that tries to make the opposite point,
and then a more detailed exploration of several books on life after life
from two differing perspectives: the Near-Death Experience or NDE perspective,
and the psychic perspective. At the end? Well, wait and see.
GOD AND BRAIN
That it is now high time I wrote this
piece that I have been looking forward to, and dreading, for so long. It
has been about 6 months now of reading and taking notes in many books and
a few articles.
What makes it high time is this: an article
appeared, with a companion article, in the May 7, 2001, issue of Newsweek.
The lead article was "Faith Is More Than A Feeling" by Kenneth L. Woodward.
In that article, Woodward observes, quite astutely I believe, that "Skeptics
used to argue that anyone with half a brain should realize there is no
God. Now scientists are telling us that one half of the brain, or a portion
thereof, is 'wired' for religious experiences. But whether this evolving
'neurotheology' is theology at all is doubtful. It tells us new things
about the circuits of the brain, perhaps, but nothing new about God." The
article finishes with this additional insight:
Science, of course, does not deal with
the immaterial (though aspects of modern physics come pretty close). The
most that neurobiologists can do is correlate certain experiences with
certain brain activity. To suggest that the brain is the only source of
our experiences would be reductionist, ignoring the influence of other
important factors, such as the will, the external environment, not to mention
the operation of divine grace. Even so, it is hard to imagine a believer
in the midst of mystical transport telling herself that it is just her
neural circuits acting up. Like Saint Augustine, who lived 15 centuries
before we discovered that the brain makes waves, the religious mind intuits
that 'Thou has made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless
till they rest in Thee.'
The companion article in this same issue
of Newsweek is similarly enlightening and enlightened. It was entitled
"Religion And The Brain" and written by Sharon Begley, with Anne Underwood.
The article begins with an account of a 'mystical' experience by a neurologist,
Dr. James Austin. The salient point is this:
Call it a mystical experience, a spiritual
moment, even a religious epiphany, if you like - but Austin will not. Rather
than interpret his instant of grace as proof of a reality beyond the comprehension
of our senses, much less as proof of a deity, Austin took it as proof of
the existence of the brain. He isn't being smart-alecky. As a neurologist,
he accepts that all we see, hear, feel and think is mediated or created
by the brain.
In 1998, Austin wrote a book called "Zen
and the Brain" which was published by MIT Press, states Begley, and since
then: "more and more scientists have flocked to 'neurotheology,' the study
of the neurobiology of religion and spirituality." Begley then lists several
prestigious associations and universities active in this field, and their
publications, but what is of interest to me is this statement at the very
end of the well written and informative article that describes the successful
mapping of heightened religious or mystical experience onto the brain through
sophisticated observation of what areas are activated and at the same time
deactivated to mediate or cause such experiences. And it is the mediate
OR cause part of the article that is emphasized in this statement from
the middle of the article, which in turn cites a Dr. Andrew Newberg of
the University of Pennsylvania:
. . . just because an experience has a
neural correlate does not mean that the experience exists 'only' in the
brain, or that it is a figment of brain activity with no independent reality.
Think of what happens when you dig into an apple pie. The brain's olfactory
region registers the aroma of the cinnamon and fruit. The somatosensory
cortex processes the feel of the flaky crust on the tongue and lips. The
visual cortex registers the sight of the pie. Remembrances of pies past
(Grandma's kitchen, the corner bake shop ...) activate association cortices.
A neuroscientist with too much time on his hands could undoubtedly produce
a PET scan of 'your brain on apple pie.' But that does not negate the reality
of the pie. 'The fact that spiritual experiences can be associated with
distinct neural activity does not necessarily mean that such experiences
are mere neurological illusions,' Newberg insists. 'It's no safer to say
that spiritual urges and sensations are caused by brain activity than it
is to say that the neurological changes through which we experience the
pleasure of eating an apple cause the apple to exist.' The bottom line,
he says, is that 'there is no way to determine whether the neurological
changes associated with spiritual experience mean that the brain is causing
those experiences ... or is instead perceiving a spiritual reality.'
Toward the end of the article, this appears
as a quote from a Robert Forman, scholar of comparative religion at Hunter
College in New York City:
And whatever light science is shedding
on spirituality, spirituality is returning the favor: mystical experiences,
says Forman, may tell us something about consciousness, arguably the greatest
mystery in neuroscience. 'In mystical experiences, the content of the mind
fades, sensory awareness drops out, so you are left only with pure consciousness,'
says Forman. 'This tells you that consciousness does not need an object,
and is not a mere byproduct of sensory action.'
The article's authors underscore this
thought with this very appropriate conclusion:
For all the tentative successes that scientists
are scoring in their search for the biological bases of religious, spiritual
and mystical experience, one mystery will surely lie forever beyond their
grasp. They may trace a sense of transcendence to this bulge in our gray
matter. And they may trace a feeling of the divine to that one. But it
is likely that they will never resolve the greatest question of all -namely,
whether our brain wiring creates God, or whether God created our brain
wiring. Which you believe is, in the end, a matter of faith.
That is exactly where Carl Jung's claim
of there being a God-archetype in our subconscious left me: wondering if
the archetype created God for us or was created for us by God. Since the
God envisioned by humans is so diverse between cultures, in the same culture
over time, and between individuals in any given time and culture, the argument
is weighted away from a God having created this archetype to reflect a
specific idea of Deity in us. Or is it? Is the reality of God so immense
and ineffable that our interpretational ability of what we deeply feel
about God comes out in so many different ways, conditioned by who we are,
what we think, and what our experience is? It could go either way, still.
Where I have a harder time is thinking
my way into believing that it is all just biology, the result of mutations
over time bringing us to the state of having an innate belief system and
ability to simulate (rather than 'have') experience outside our normal
person, space, and time limits. Evolution created this archetype or set
of archetypes as a sedative salve for the open wound created by a conscious
self-awareness, sentience, with no answers. It makes purposeful life possible
in a purposeless universe. Unless, of course, the universe's purpose was
to create, over a very long time, a life form out of itself with the adaptability
and capability to eventually determine a purpose. But that means the God
archetype is an empty vessel waiting to be filled, rather than a tool for
discerning something that is already in existence.
INTRODUCTION, PART TWO: NATURE OF GOD AND EXISTENCE OF AFTERLIFE
These imponderables are directly related
to the study of whether there is life after life or not. Here is my line
You may notice a reticence on my part
to say "God, He" ... or "God, She" . . . That is because I think the idea
of a personage as God misses the point of God's being an ineffable, unexplainable-in-words,
concept. In fact, I am very much in awe of, and strangely comforted by,
this declaration by a person named Katrei (or Catherine), a Catholic mystic
of the High Middle Ages (for more information on who the revelator is and
the context of the revelation, see my "A
Women's Movement In The High Middle Ages" - Part 3, (click to go there):
"I had concentrated all the faculties
of my soul.
When I looked into myself, I saw God in myself and
everything God ever created in heaven and on earth....
I have nothing to do with angels or saints
that was ever created. More: I have nothing to do with
anything that has ever become word.... I am confirmed in
naked divinity, in which never image nor form existed.... I
am where I was before I was created; where there is only
bare God in God. In that place there are no angels or
saints or choirs or heaven. Many people tell of eight
heavens and nine choirs; where I am that is not. You should
know that all that is put into words and presented to
people with images is nothing but a stimulus to God. Know
that in God there is nothing but God. Know that no soul can
enter into God unless it first becomes God just as it was
before it was created.
"You should know, that whoever contents
himself with what
can be put into words--God is a word, the kingdom of heaven
is also a word--whoever does not want to go further with the
faculties of the soul, with knowledge and love, than ever
became word, ought rightfully to be called an unbeliever.
What can be put into words is grasped with the lower senses
or faculties of the soul, but the higher faculties of the
soul are not content with this; they press on, further and
further, until they come before the source from which the
"You must understand this thus: The soul
is naked and bare
of all things that bear names. So it stands, as one, in the
One, so that it has a progression in naked divinity.... So
you should know that as long as the good person lives in
time, his soul has a constant progression in eternity. That
is why good people cherish life."
The above is taken from Buber,
Martin, "Ecstatic Confessions," (San Francisco, Harper and Row Publishers,
l985) Edited by Paul Mendes-Flohr, Translated by Esther Cameron, pp.
Well, that said, what is there possibly
left to say?
A lot. Now that you know some of my prejudices,
let's launch immediately into a review of some books that are salient to
this general theme of Deity, and Death.
The first one discusses the scientific
approach that should be, but is not being, pursued when it comes to researching
life after death. I think the Newsweek articles dispel this negativity
somewhat and do show serious scientific work is in progress after all,
but Moody's perspective is different, and needs to be aired.
The second book is one by Melvin Morse
that is quite delightful in that it postulates a theory that makes the
Newsweek articles seem like 'me too' statements rather than reports from
the frontiers of neuroscience and neurotheology. It is definitely the opposite
of the Moody book in its evaluation and approach.
More in the middle of the road is the
second book: the latest offering from Kenneth Ring. Between Moody, Morse
and Ring we have captured the three who are either the pioneers, or at
least are very prominent among the pioneers of the world of NDE studies.
After these three books it will be time
to recapitulate and regroup before going to a very different genre of books.
RAYMOND A. MOODY, UNBELIEVER
What can one say about Raymond A. Moody's "The
Last Laugh, a new philosophy of near-death experiences, apparitions, and
the paranormal," (Hampton Roads, Charlottesville, VA 1999), except
that it is a diatribe? Interesting? Yes. Informative? Yes. Diatribe? Also
An enigma of the first order is why Neale
Donald Walsch wrote the Preface when the book pokes fun at him (on page
69, whereas he is more kindly treated on pages 55 and 56). Walsch says
Moody has written a blasphemous book: "here comes more blasphemy from Raymond
Moody." Of course the blasphemy is against "conventional wisdom," taking
near-death experience (NDE) accounts at face value and interpreting them
literally. About Walsch's alleged conversations with God, in fact, Moody
recommends we put away the unanswerable question as to whether or not Walsch
ever had a conversation with God, and instead focus on the message, play
with it, and see what it can do for us (see pp. 55-56). We will visit with
Walsch's God later in this series of reviews.
Walsch does in a few words what it takes
Moody a chapter to reveal: that the millions who think him the author of
"an entire cosmology about life after death," upon reading this book find
out "that Dr. Moody himself never intended to give us an answer about life
after death and other things paranormal, but merely sought to reopen the
question." (p. vii)
Moody isn't quite as kind. He blasts his
co-author (who made his first book readable, I can now see) and his editors
and publishers for making him say things he never really believed himself,
largely by not allowing him to say what he, as a properly skeptical scientist,
felt compelled to say to caution runaway interpretation of his work in
a literalistic way. On pages vii and ix, he is extremely critical, and
stays that way for the rest of the introduction, spewing venom on three
groups that he has come to loathe over the years, unscientific and literal-minded
parapsychologists, skeptics, and especially fundamentalist Christians who
take everything literal and seek to find Satan at work in NDEs to satisfy
their need to bolster their religious beliefs. He says NDEs and the paranormal
are entertainment in modern society (see pp. 11 and 15, but much of the
book is dedicated to this theme).
On pages 4 and 5 he reveals the "new"
material in this book: there are "empathic" NDEs that do not involve approaching
death from any trauma expect to be close to someone in a state of approaching
death. This is also expanded on later in the book (pp. 195-196), but really
is a minor part of it. In the main the book is a confession: he is not
certain about life after life, about what NDEs really mean, and never meant
for his books to indicate otherwise, but they did! (See p. 8)
The main thrust of the book is to skewer,
again and again in great detail, his three nemeses. And it is a good read
if you are interested in the ins and outs of why it is these three groups
(parapsychologists, skeptics, and Christian fundamentalists) do not want
closure on this issue, do not want a final authoritative statement on what
the NDE or a paranormal manifestation is. (See pages 13-14, 163 especially).
I really enjoyed his name calling of the scientific and other skeptics
and fundamentalists as "believers" (p. 73, p. 80), as believers in the
"military manner (p. 74), as a self-appointed "thought-police" (pp. 48-49),
as "cold intellects" like "Commies" (p. 114), and suggests their three
different vocabularies assure no understanding between them (pp. 48-49
and 64 especially ). He also pokes his critical fingers at creation "science"
believers (p. 82), and new agers who are steeped in the same wishful thinking
as the ancient alchemists (pp. 138-139).
A less critical treatment is given of
the NDE and other paranormal purveyors of new insights into life, but he
does use them illustrate his central point: this is all entertainment.
He characterizes Bettie Eadie (whose books are included in this review)
and another NDE story author, Dannion Brinkley ("Saved by the Light," not
reviewed here) as NDE showmen and entrepreneurs (pp. 170-171), but softens
that characterization by also saying that they are "lovable and endearing
people who do good things for others." (p. 177) Among historical icons
of the new age whom he paints as naught but clever showmen are the Count
of St. Germain (pp. 30-31) and Nostradamus (p. 45).
But what does Moody think, then, it all
means? His basic message is that the paranormal and NDEs are "nonsense
from nowhere" (p. 109), but as he states clearly on the next page, it is
important, as essential life as are "play, humor, and entertainment" which
provide "consolation, enjoyment, and release" (p. 110). On page 118 an
important statement is made: even though it is nonsense, it "incubates
truth" and brings "new knowledge" into the world. So, it is a serious thing
for human progress, this entertainment. He describes the contributions
of Descartes and Socrates as paranormally aided or inspired contributions
to world knowledge (pp. 120-123).
Moody is adamant that the paranormal and
NDEs are legitimate subjects for scientific study, (p. 136, pp.152-153
and many others). Surprisingly, to me, he has done scientific study and
experimentation in this area, involving "scrying" for example, and shows
it a common ability (pp. 158-162). But his call for serious scholarly study
is interrupted, of course, by decrying the "hero's clubs" of students of
a single individual's insights or philosophy, based on paranormally obtained
insights. Again, one of the persons painted into this corner is the person
who wrote the Preface, Walsch, whose devotees have founded study clubs.
That is not scholarship (pp. 136-137).
Pages 145-152 characterize the paranormal
as a treasure chest, and the subjects he used for his scrying experiments
came away with some of that treasure, real, tangible changes in their lives
from experiencing similar, healing encounters as reported in NDEs! (pp.
160-161) As Moody concludes on page 162, the paranormal is both fun and
valuable, and on page 165 he exclaims that he has pursued these studies
with passion, and that passion is behind every true discovery and process
miracles of love and understanding. And love is a great promise of, and
the greatest attractor to, the paranormal (pp. 193-194).
All that said, here are what I thought
were genuinely important observations from this book by Moody, important
to my desire to understand the accounts of paranormal knowledge of the
afterlife I am currently reading in copious quantity:
BUT: we must not forget the very serious
suggestion made by Moody after he pokes gentle fun at his Preface author's
claim of having seen and conversed with God (p. 56): "The playful paranormalist
is inclined to look past the question of whether an actual communication
with Deity took place (a question that can never be resolved in any event),
and to look instead at whether there is anything of wisdom and value in
the communication that was received. The playful paranormalist is willing
to 'play with the idea' that Walsch might
have talked to God, and then ask: If he did, would it not be interesting
to see what God had to say?" Exactly.
A MAINSTREAM BOOK WITH A TWIST: KENNETH
RINGON NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES (NDEs)
So Moody believe NDEs are not evidence,
they are entertainment, but entertainment that can bring new truth into
the world. He applauds the effects of NDEs, generally, and ends his book
with a suggestion that by learning to have these types of experiences without
approaching death, the world can be revolutionized by love: . . ."we do
not have to die to get a glimpse of the love that awaits us in the light
beyond." (p. 196)
Before we get into Ring, however, it would
probably be good to note here that there was some material in the Moody
book that struck me while reading this next book on my list:
Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino,
"Lessons from the Light, What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience,"
Insight Books, New York, 1998.
Raymond Moody's book "The Last Laugh,"
where he is talking about the IANDS (International Association for Near-Death
Studies) organization (see page 169) and says he is no longer welcome there
because he has moved on. Moody says he is beyond staring at the same old
Near-Death Experiences, and the IANDS adherents seem to want to hear the
same things over and over and over again, thousands of times, and actually
resist anything that is new and unfamiliar. On the next page he gently
chides them for having become in some respects like a religious organization,
although he praises them for their support network and journal.
I quote this only because the book I am
now reviewing by Ring and Valarino is a book by an IANDS member and enthusiastic
supporter. Maybe what Moody complained of is a basic aspect of human nature.
The message comforts them, assures them of life after death exactly the
way they want it to be. So anything that challenges what they want to have
continually reaffirmed is met with dismay at least, rejection at worst.
Moody's chiding is a little pointed on his page 169: "A good sense of humor
is the best tool a playful paranormalist can use to dispense with the numb-minded
conservatism about peri-mortal visionary experiences that, incredibly,
has set in so quickly among lots of folks who devote themselves to the
subject as a pastime. Those fans want all their near-death experience entertainment
fare to be just as they are used to enjoying it. They want more of the
same old, same old, and they want more and more of it. . . . If you ask
me, some of them have gotten hung up on NDEs. They are too touchy about
someone going outside the bounds of what they think they already know about
Kenneth Ring, another giant in this field,
and his coauthor Evelyn Valarino, explain why they do not go beyond NDEs,
and it is a very good reason: to go much beyond the experience of the light
and the love it gives and teaches can be a distraction from life and its
purpose. The minutiae described by some in the attempt to go beyond the
NDE is distracting and can be deadening, removing wonder by describing
all in mundane this-worldly symbols and language, and finally it may well
give wrong impressions. That latter caution is not unlike Moody's caution
to not take these accounts as evidence for anything. But both Moody and
Ring know that that is exactly what they are, evidence, to the experiencers
and those who believe them: evidence for an afterlife, and for a God of
Of course this is not at all what Moody
has in mind by going beyond the NDE, he is talking about his experiments
with scrying and other ways of bringing on NDE-like experiences and insights.
But Ring makes several statements that seem important to me, probably just
because I feel I agree with them. (Technically I should always use "Ring
and Valarino, but the book is written so that only Ring seems to be writing/speaking,
so I will just use his name from this point forward.) What Ring says on
his page 280-281 is very important, I believe, in understanding the NDE
and also the stories of those going beyond the NDE, even those cited in
Ring's book, and several of which who have written their own books which
will be reviewed later in this series of reviews.
On his pages 280 and 281 Ring suggests
he is reluctant to go too far in recommending the imagining of the post-life
journey based on what has been revealed in NDEs so far. Post-life journeys
have to be individual, they must diverge after the common introductory
elements shown in many NDE's. He further suggests that it may be simply
an error to carry the all loving, all accepting nature of the reception
into the afterlife, reported in many NDE's, too far. It could be, Ring
suggests, that there will be differences in the longer journey depending
on the life lived here, despite the initial almost universal reception
into what feels like perfect love and total acceptance. Ring is afraid
that some persons may think this gives them license to use and abuse in
this life with no consequence hereafter, rather than to live in love and
compassion as NDE's clearly teach that life should be lived.
But his caution that meant the most to
me is this one: what is seen and experienced is ineffable, beyond human
comprehension and words, and to describe it all as if it can be systematized
into a geography and architecture of the afterlife is turning the sublime
into the banal! Amen Brother Ring! Well said. And we will have occasion
to reflect on these words when we do, indeed, review some very concrete
tales of the landscapes and rules of the next life.
What Ring says about the ineffable reminded
me of the words I cited above by sister Katrei whom I cite elsewhere on
my websites (see link, above).
In my opinion, what Katrei says underscores
Ring's caution against taking things too literally which appears on his
page 281: . . . "I would still contend that the essence
of these experiences transcends all linguistic or imagistic representation
that might be available to us in states of ordinary waking consciousness.
Therefore, in trying to conceive of the after-death state too finely, we
not only risk a certainhubris,
but we also court the danger of transforming an experience full of symbolic
shadings and redolent with flashes of higher consciousness into something
that is too literal, banal, or otherwise full of conventional stereotyped
We will have occasion to wave this warning
later, when reviewing some other books on the subject of the after life-
life. Ring does not mean to say that a person should not read the accounts
of psychics and regressions that give accounts of the life between lives,
he explains further. But as he concludes on page 282, his only purpose
is to show that . . . "NDE's conduce toward a belief in the afterlife."
. . . and . . . "to dwell on the nature of the afterlife may divert us
from paying attention to this life, where the lessons from the Light
need to be practiced.." Ring reminds us that "we are not dead" and admonishes
us to: "Live well, and death will take care of itself."
Ring also tantalizes his readers with
more than the normal NDE reveals, and mentions an "ultimate journey" type
of NDE on page 283 that he dwells on for the next 17 pages, using words
for his sources such as "messengers of God" on page 294 and "revelators"
on page 300. I cite these words only to show that Ring is a believer, not
a skeptic, even though he maintains his stance as a scientist investigating
this NDE phenomenon, and describes his experiments and those of others
to prove the point. Unlike Moody who scoffed at the idea that NDE accounts
are evidence for anything at all, Ring uses the "evidence" word several
times (as on page 281).
The ultimate journey accounts were a good read, but I found they left me somewhat cold. Ring says these accounts move us from lessons to treasures (p. 286), and I am only partly in agreement. The first such account has the NDE experiencer stop and query the light and it gave him specific information about its nature, such as that the experience one has of the personification of Love can be Jesus, Krishna, Buddha or whatever one needs or expects (p. 287). Although this may well be so, it seems an easy rationalization of what NDE's from different cultures otherwise present as an enigma.
On page 289 the account is not unlike
Katrei's, the person moves into time before time and experiences awareness
before existence, and recognizes self as part of all, of God. Where he
returns to a commonplace observation, to me, is in saying that God is here,
now, and exploring his/her (neither fits) through us. He also is certain
that he has moved into the time and space before there was time and space,
before the big bang, and sees the creation of all that is after as the
unfolding of a web of organic unity (see page 290). To me, he is trying
too hard to describe the ineffable in currently accepted concepts and terms,
and adds little new insight except that his no doubt ineffable impressions
can be squeezed into these effable concepts and observations.
On page 291 a person who is an atheist
has an NDE and experiences hell, and is saved through prayer into a place
that looks like a galaxy of love with a very bright center made of love-lighted
souls. On page 292 is an account of a person coming through a meditation
journey into an expanding light, as if from the big bang itself, and he
experiences an ecstatic state wherein he knows he is part of all that is.
This is the type of thing Ring continues
to bring forward in this very interesting chapter. A journey to the center
of the universe, and a view of the stars performing a subtle dance (p.
295) is followed by an account of seeing God as an all pervasive light
that teaches in the end that obtaining love and knowledge is the purpose
of this life (p. 296).
Another account (pp. 297-299) has an angel conducting the person into the light where God is encountered face to face (this reminded me of the Beatrice and Dante relationship, but I have an overactive relational database in my head, but as in that Medieval tale, the angelic Beatrice brings Dante close to the Presence, but then disappears as he enters it and comes away uttering words he knows are all inadequate to convey what he really saw and learned and experienced). This particular account also teaches some things that are at once profound and dissatisfying because so many others teach the same things: stars are born at the center of the universe, the universe is one grand object, space-time is an illusion holding us in this plane, fire is the center of stars, the void is richly full, etc.
This account also suggests all knowledge
is to be taken in, which is good. And all injustice has its purpose, which
bothers me. Like this experiencer, who was railing against God because
of the injustices in this world, I am opposed to the idea that suffering
should not be reduced to the extent possible in this life, which is one
result of believing that all suffering has a purpose and one should leave
it to God. To me what she understood from her experience is simple that
the world's suffering is beyond you, focus on your life and trust all will
be well in the end. It is what I come to when I realize I have a choice
between enjoying the rich life I have ben given, or pining away in misery
over overwhelming injustices in the world without helping the situation
one iota. This revelation reminds me of the Jungian description of revelation
as a response to intense emotional suffering providing answers that allow
one to résumé living life.
Ring, after cautiously tantalizing his
readers with a look beyond the light from very advanced NDEs, interprets
their collective lesson in a way I can fully agree with: now that you have
all this testimony of the love, live it and light the world! (P. 300) The
purpose of all this knowledge is to live what is learned (p. 301). He says
NDEs do not challenge, but revitalize the existing faiths, and warns against
turning it into a religion, and suggests that like everywhere else in human
relations, here too there are liars (pp. 302-303). Like a preacher, he
ends the book with a benediction (p. 304): "May the Light guide your every
step and lead you to enlightened action in the world." Amen!
But a striking point is made two pages
before, where, not unlike Moody, Ring says: "I want to urge here a criterion
of utility for the Light's
offerings and not dissipate its value in fruitless discussions over just
what it represents, which brings us back to the fundamental theme of this
chapter: How to engage with the lessons of the Light so as to put them
to practical use in your daily life." (P. 302) Remember Moody's similar
sentiment about the value of another person's lessons from supposed revelations
from God, se if the message is useful, forget arguments about the reality
of the account of the phenomenon that brings the message (Moody's pages
So, we have finished Ring (and Valarino's
book without reading it all? No, there were many interesting things in
that book prior to the later chapters just discussed. Examples are the
idea of the NDE as a benign virus that can be caught by persons simply
being exposed to the content of such experiences. This is introduced on
page 5 as part of a longer discussion of the powerful changes that are
wrought in both NDE experiencers and those who learn from hearing or reading
those experiences. The benign virus notion is revisited on page 278 in
the context of experience with students in a class on NDEs taught by Ring.
Pages 70 and 71 are interesting in that
a comparison between persons imagining a resuscitation and NDE accounts
shows the former to be inaccurate, the latter accurate including unknowable
(to a person not conscious) information.
The chapter on blind persons' NDEs was
extremely interesting to me. Not knowing a blind person well, I always
wondered if they saw in dreams. Apparently they do not see in dreams. But
the do in NDEs!!! (See chapter starting on page 73, especially pages 80-81.)
It was of interest to me that Ring cites
accounts that mention reincarnation (pp. 136-137) and generalizes that
some NDE experiencers are convinced there is reincarnation (pp. 126-127).
As we shall see later, some other witnesses categorically state there is
no such thing, while others say it is obviously so. If this interests you
too, stay tuned!
Ring's purpose in writing the book is
to allow others to benefit from, and have their lives changed by, the NDEs
teachings. This is a central theme, stated at the start of the book and
discussed again in greater detail after many accounts have been cited,
especially on pages 275-279. On that latter page Ring says NDEs are persuasive
testimonies, and on page 281 as already noted he mentions the word evidence
in the context of NDEs. I believe he means that these accounts are definitely
both of these things to the ones experiencing them, and he documents case
after case to show this is so. He also means they can be persuasive and
evidence to others, and shows by his pre- and post-course surveys that
this is so. He also cites several other researchers doing more formal experimental
surveys to the same end. This makes Ring's view of NDE's very different
from Moody's, as previously cited. Or does it?
Moody, like Ring, says to judge them for
their insights, not by their descriptive "facts." In that vein, Moody says
this much more strongly than Ring, when he says that though they are "nonsense
from nowhere" they are doors through which new knowledge enters the world.
And he proves this from historical accounts of inventions that were seemingly
direct results of revelatory insights.
So, in the end, although Moody and Ring
come from very different degrees of belief in the veracity of the NDE-type
experience, they agree these types of experiences are sources of revelation
with resulting messages that need to be taken serious, even though it is
tempting to sometimes take issue with the descriptions of the experience
that brought the message. Test the message for usefulness in enriching
your life, don't sweat the details. Good advice!
Ring suggests it is psychic travelers
who add minutiae, and that is very true as we will shortly see. But what
about several recent NDErs who do the same thing, like Eadie first and
Eadie sees a hereafter colored with Mormon
cultural accouterments. No wonder, one of the two churches she alleges
she needs to be happy is the Mormon one. This is made quite clear in the
official description of the book as corroborating much that is distinctly
Mormon in the copies of the book sent to Mormon outlets. Nothing wrong
with that, but it does show the coloration of what is seen by ones expectations.
And this is carried to an absurd degree
by the totally eclectic account by Patricia Kirmond, in my opinion. OK
OK, this will have to wait until after we examine the book by Melvin
MELVIN MORSE ON WHERE GOD LIVES
The full title of Melvin Morse, M.D.'s latest book with Paul Perry is"Where God Lives, The Science of the Paranormal and How Our Brains are Linked to the Universe," (Cliff Street Books, New York, 2000). A quick overview of the approach and message of the book is available on the back of the dust jacket covering where it has an endorsing quote from Raymond Moody, but this book is very different from anything Moody has written, or Morse for that matter.
Maybe I shouldn't be so hasty in that
pronouncement. Moody, in a book with Paul Perry called "Coming Back, A
Psychiatrist Explores Past-Life Journeys" (Bantam Books, New York, 1990)
also, like Morse, says he doesn't know what these regression experiences
really mean. Although he has experienced them, they are real experiences:
like NDEs the results stay with you, they are very therapeutic and help
resolve problems in current life therapy, but they are not of certain pedigree.
Moody gives insights from his own experimental work, including work with
scrying which he shows can bring on a similar experience, and suggests
the reader make up their own mind as to what these strange experiences
mean. It is significant, to me, that in his "The Last Laugh" this "Coming
Back" book that he wrote is never mentioned! Maybe it is because in it
he does clearly retain his objectivity, whereas, as he claimed, in the
NDE books he was made into an NDE true believer and his scientific side
was buried. Or so he says now.
It is also interesting to me that although
Moody endorsed Morse's book, Morse never once referred to Moody's "Coming
Back" book, even though Morse's chapter four covers some of the same territory
and asks similar questions as were asked in and addressed similarly by
OVERVIEW OF MORSE'S BOOK
But we are discussing Morse's latest book
here, not Moody's past writings, and on page 9 Morse says that after 15
years of experience with NDEs as well as other paranormal types of experiences
he has come to believe in his own intuitive side and its powers. He has
come to believe in his . . . "right temporal-lobe abilities - telepathy,
remote viewing, and mind-body healing. I have learned to trust my instincts
and to see intuition as an asset that is biologically hardwired into our
"After fifteen years of listening to children
describing what it was like when they died, I have learned that what happened
to them in what were almost their final moments of life can happen to any
of us, at any time throughout our lives. The experiences teach us that
we have a large area of the brain - our right temporal lobe - that remains
underused. It is now a scientific fact - which I will establish in this
book - that when this area functions fully, we receive insight into the
meaning of life and a personal introduction to God."
Notice that Moody (and Ring, as we will
see in the next book) also gives this message: you don't need to be near
death to have a near-death-like experience! Morse, on his page 27 reveals
where he is going with this line of thought: (1) NDEs are real, (2) they
are transformative, and (3) they utilize brain physiology but are "not
limited to or contained by that physiology." This bold statement is emphasized:
"Much of what constitutes a mystical or paranormal experience might exist
outside the human brain and come to us through a shared fabric of thought
This is clearly a reference to the Jungian
concept of a collective unconscious, a master unconscious which our personal
unconscious is linked to. Morse pays respect to Jung's ideas on page 102
especially, and it is a direct precursor to what Morse now reveals as his
"unified theory" to explain many related paranormal phenomena.
The things that can all be viewed from
the perspective of his "unified theory," which Morse (rightly) describes
as "a path no one before me had taken," are discussed on pages 40 through
46. These things, or topics discussed in the bulk of the book include:
"Can memory exist outside the body?" "Is reincarnation the act of 'tapping
in' to a universal memory bank?" "Are ghosts and angels really 'trapped'
energy patterns?" Is there a type of person who can communicate with this
universal memory bank more easily than the rest of us?" "Is there such
a thing as coincidence?" "And what is intuition anyway?" "Why do prayers
help some people who are seriously ill?" "How are mystical experiences
The book is fascinating in its treatments
of each of these subjects, and you need to read it for yourself if you
have an interest in these things.
It is fine to skip this part where I mention
several things that caught my critical eye just to be mean. I really like
the book, don't get me wrong, but little bits of it really spun me into
taking a critical stance. For one thing, Morse mentions "theoretical physicists"
(p. 42) as assuring him . . . "that the energy we give off in the form
of thought and behavior does not disappear but survives somewhere in nature."
Morse then says, with a proper caveat: "If this is true, perhaps our energy
becomes a part of that universal memory bank, perceivable at times as ghosts
or angels by our right temporal lobe." To me, this is unsupportable conjecture,
and in citing it I am sorry to have let Morse's cat out of the bag about
what he thinks ghosts or angels represent.
Morse really sets me on edge next time
he mentions physicists. On page 57 he cites Physicist Nick Herbert as saying:
"The world is a radically ambiguous and ceaselessly flowing quantum soup
behind our backs. Every time we quickly turn to 'see' the soup, it freezes,
and turns into ordinary reality. Humans can never experience the true texture
of quantum reality, because everything we touch turns to matter." Morse
interprets this as meaning that: "According to modern physics, what we
consider to be real is no more real than a video game screen." He expands
on that theme, adding something about "every inch of space" having "the
energy of a trillion atom bombs" and being able "to store the information
of all the computers on earth." I think this is all nonsense and that it
detracts from the otherwise astute and careful nature of the book. But
if you want to know how I really feel about this use of physics to support
some of the New Age's concepts, you will need to switch over to my diatribe
on that subject, also on this web site (click here to go there).
But I don't get upset at every use of
physics insights, and remained quite calm at John Archibald Wheeler's assertions,
reported on page 58, that . . . "we live in a participatory universe, one
in which life and mind are woven into the fabric of the universe. In this
theory, memories . . . are stored in the patterns of life" . . . . Morse
cites trees and bird's songs, some physicists cite the particles and waves
of the subatomic scale. To me theses views are both much too materialistic.
There are many orders of magnitude of scale, below the scale of the structural
materials that make up the components of atoms, that may be candidate space
for such information, or consciousness storage. But just because we are
unable to touch those orders of magnitude doesn't mean that therefore these
subtle energies of external memory must be located in what we can experimentally
touch. In other words, I really find Morse's unified theory of an extra-corporeal
memory compelling. I just have a problem assigning that function to that
which we can know, physically.
Pages 58-60, where Morse speculates almost
without giving me any negative vibes, is good. He feels there is good evidence
for external memory, except for short term memory which is brain-captured
and localized, and I tend to cautiously agree. Almost? Well there is that
referent on page 59 about the idea of there being no time, and he again
cites physicists as saying so. In my diatribe on the subject (see link
above) I show to my satisfaction that all the arrows of time in physics
point in one direction. There is an example often cited to the contrary,
but it is an exception to the rule where the experimental information is
ambiguous. One ambiguity in the face of many certainties is not a reason
to throw away those certainties. It is not a firm counterexample.
Morse concludes that: "It is not a great
leap of logic to comprehend a universal memory that exists free of the
constraints of time and as part of an evolving universal consciousness."
My reaction is that "evolving," and yet not having a time arrow pointed
in one direction only, is a logical contradiction. It may well be so, I
don't know, but to my physics can be used to soundly argue against the
Given that now the external longer term
memory is established, does this mean that reincarnation memories are bogus
and borrowed from the memory fabric of the universe? Maybe, maybe not.
Morse admits on page 73 that many cases are in the latter category, but
there are a few that are compelling evidence for reincarnation, and so
he "probably" believes in it. I like that, cautious even in his own very
On page 93 he cites Stanislav Grof's "holotropic
mind" work, which I have found fascinating to read of in the past. Morse
weaves Grof's insights nicely into his own "unified theory" and explains
Grof's holotropic mind therapy as being training in using the right lobe
of the brain, the intuitive side where the universal memory is connected
Morse makes some sweeping statements about
soul rescue on pages 90 and 94. Many, many books tell the stories of people
visiting the realm of spirits and helping orient lost souls. Morse cites
one on page 90 and categorically says she is doing no such thing. On page
94 he suggests that what people believe to be the lost soul is their strong
memories in a complex mesh in the universal memory bank. This is a bit
heavy handed, I believe. Although it is very attractive: one less thing
to worry over in the universe!
Morse loses me again on page 96 in his
discussion on quantum holography, mentioning the wave-particle duality
that is the staple truth (and undeniably so) of quantum physics in another
context where it adds little (in my mind) to the argument being made. That
argument is that the universe is quantum holographic meaning that . . .
"the entire universal pattern, is contained in every speck of matter."
That sweeping statement (see pages 96-97) made me grit my teeth once more.
But I relaxed my jaw in the very next
paragraph where this sweeping generalization was brought home into the
human body "where each cell contains all the DNA information necessary
to create the entire body." I found that to be unassailable, but the next
step Morse then takes is to suggest that . . . "we need only to speculate
that the holographic brain can communicate with the holographic universe.
. . . Since our brains are part of the universe, we have in each of us
all the information of the universe - everything that ever was, is, and
will be." Sorry, to me that is stretching a basically compelling idea to
an absurd degree.
As I already mentioned, Jung is mentioned,
and his ideas on synchronicity and the collective unconscious, on pages
101 through 107. Morse goes to some lengths to show that the great physicist
Niels Bohr collaborated with Carl Jung on his ideas, the implication being
that Bohr's quantum physics underlies Jung's theories. Well, in my totally
non-humble opinion I think Jung was onto something and Bohr was wrong,
Einstein was right. And for a discussion of this sobering thought, again
see my other article on the implications of modern physics.
Had enough of my critical nits? Good,
me too. Let's get on to the part I liked, a lot.
THE MAIN IDEAS FROM THE MORSE BOOK
In a discussion on science and spirituality,
Morse concludes that science is, or at least can be, a force for spiritual
progress. (P. 119) This is in the context of new information from the scientific
study of prayer and placebos as evidence that the mind heals the body.
(See pp. 120-123)
God is mentioned on page 121 as being,
in some people's minds, the universal energy pattern that is tapped in
the healing process. This notion is repeated as a statement Morse endorses
on page 132. Morse's chapter 8 is very, very good reading, and is a sweeping
overview of the things one can do to make the universal healing processes
work in their own lives.
At the end of that chapter, Morse gets
back to the NDE. On page 151 he cites a person who feels he was healed
by his NDE. But as Morse points out, the lessons that caused healing can
be learned without an NDE: "Live life to its fullest; pay attention to
what is going on around you; and believe that, in the long run, everything
has a purpose and works out for the best."
Morse suggests (still on p. 151) that
activating the right temporal lobe is the key to gaining this insight.
It is . . . "an inner source of healing - a secret helper - that is always
present and operating at an unconscious level." Morse ends this very informative
and practical chapter with: "The ultimate message of NDEs is that life
has meaning and that we are all connected. It is in finding these interconnections
that we find the secret to good health and a long life." Amen. I have had
that lesson taught to me from several sources and through several experiences.
Pages 163 through 165 suggest that the
connection between the left and right brains is where the voice of God
is located. On page 164, intuition is labeled the ability to communicate
with God, and is characterized as being the ability to utilize the entire
brain. The challenge is made for people to learn to use their entire brain
and hear God's voice. On page 165 there is a call for balance between the
right and left brains that ends the book on this note: "NDEs are a wake-up
call reminding us that we are interconnected spiritual beings as well as
unique individuals. Work on your spiritual sensitivity, but be patient.
Although our modern brain began evolving more than two hundred thousand
years ago, it didn't come with a manual. We are just starting to use it
So, is Morse a believer? On page 164 he
states: "From NDEs we are learning that everyone has the ability to connect
with a divine universe. We are also learning that we do not have to wait
until we die to connect to this universe. . . . Connecting with this universe
is my personal challenge. I do not want to wait until I die to hear God's
ONE MORE NIT TO PICK
If you skipped the previous "nit-picking"
section, feel free to leave this one out of your reading list also. In
reporting Morse's conclusions, I purposely skipped over pages 158 and 159
where another person, not a physicist, who makes my blood boil is cited
at length: Julian Jaynes.
Elsewhere in my websites I have tackled
the Jaynes theory about human consciousness being enabled by a breakdown
of the bicameral mind. Morse explains this happening as the biological
(evolutionary) diminishment of a bridge between the two lobes of the human
brain. First, as explained on page 165, people were dominated by their
right lobes, hearing the voice of God dictating their every action and
having no concept of individuality. Then came the reduction of the capability
of this bridge between the two lobes and humanity became dominated by the
left brain. Today's societal problems stem from that excessive focus on
the individual, and harmony between the two lobes would not only bring
the voice of God into our daily experience (page 164), but would also solve
many societal problems.
All of this is based on the theory of
Julian Jaynes in his book "The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown
of the Bicameral Mind," (Houghton Mifflin. New York, 1976). Morse characterizes
this theory in a more credible way then I thought Jaynes himself did. Morse
says that "Individual consciousness occurred because of a dysfunction within
the human brain. Modern man, in spite of all our accomplishments, is brain
imbalanced. Dr. Jayne [sic] has shown that the origins of human consciousness
came from a breakdown in the proper integration of the right and left temporal
lobes," . . . . "The bicameral mind is the mind that humans had for the
first 195,000 years of their existence. It has been in the past 5,000 years
that we have suffered from a lack of communication between the two sides
of the brain, leaving an unhealthy dominance of the left temporal lobe
and a relative atrophy of the right temporal lobe."
Note how different this idealization of
the previously integrated brain is from the complaint on page 165, cited
above, that early man was too dominated by the right brain leading to a
group mentality and allowed domination by those appointed by God to rule
So, what characterized early humans' experience?
Are they automatons, or the enlightened role model we should seek to emulate?
One would think the latter, according to this description, allegedly based
on Jaynes' work (p. 158): "Dr. Jayne [sic] theorized that early humans
did not have an individual sense of consciousness. They were so linked
to each other and the universe that they thought of themselves as sharing
consciousness, not only with other humans but with everything in the universe."
On page 163 this is expanded on with a quote from Jaynes: "In man, there
is a band of fibers from the left temporal lobe . . . which connects with
the other temporal lobe. Here, then, I suggest, is the tiny bridge across
which came the directions which built our civilizations and founded the
world's religions, where gods spoke to men and were obeyed . . . ."
Morse interprets this breakdown in the majority of modern humans as the cause of the modern idea of religion, based on the recognition that few are now capable of hearing the voice of God, and the definitive word of God came from ancients who had this ability in abundance. But there is a subtle but serious idealization at work here. My reading of Jaynes is more sinister. Besides that, I think Jaynes' evidence inadequate to support his case. I discuss this elsewhere in my web pages (to go there, please click here). There is also an actual organization of persons fighting the religious and New Age calls for a return to a balanced brain, they believe that a return to hearing "God's voice" (Morse p. 164) is part of a conspiratorial attempt to cause a return to the days of despots dominating humanity by claiming to be revelators of God. To see a summary of their website content, and my rebuttal of that content, click here: (It is a strange world after all!)
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