Monday, November 9, 2009

the "common sense" view of life

Professors seem to love to point out how the "common sense" view about life is a dualist view: that there's a mind and a body, two separate things, with the mind capable of existing without the body. They say that this is the view of life that most people grow up with, but that it does not make as much sense as materialism. Funny thing is that I (and some of you) have got it all reversed! We grew up with the opposite view, an atheist and materialist view. Only later are we introduced to the idea that there might be a God, a soul, and a distinction between the material and - perhaps - the spiritual.

Then comes the myriad of oddities about life: OBE's, NDE's, certain lucid dreams, strange psychic-like experiences. What do we make of it? The explanations from my professors are that these are illusions, hallucinations, pseudo-science, folktale... but wouldn't it be so much harder for them to say that if they themselves had similar experiences? Perhaps they are stuck in sleep paralysis and met a ghost who helped them wake up. Perhaps they have a friend who consistently sees ghosts, or a friend who talks about having psychic experiences. It's so much harder to discount those experiences when they're close to you. I think that difficulty comes from an intuitive knowledge that these individual experiences, though not scientifically testable or reproducible, does give us legitimate information about this strange, strange world.

It does complicate things when many people lie about their experiences. Yes, there are lots of people who are willing to deceive, lots of people waiting to drain the pocket of the gullible by falsely claiming that they have "special powers". They're horrible people, but they don't change the fact that the universe might be much more complicated than we give it credit for. I really want to know whether this experience is real. I want to know whether there are any critics of Robert Monroe, and whether they found anything wrong with his institute, or with the Stargate Project.

I think that the typical materialist should open their eyes to a new set of observations. Sticking to objective, repeatable, and "scientific" knowledge got us pretty far, but it might also restrict us. Maybe this is just one of those things that you can't rely on other people to tell you. Maybe there are things that we just have to discover for ourselves to know.

End of Entry