The skeptic and the believer; two sides of the same coin.
I listen to Coast to Coast AM. I was even on the show recently; as a caller on their annual Ghost to Ghost, Halloween show. I was the last caller of the night, and I told this story about a haunted youth hostel.
To have an encounter with a ghost presupposes the idea that there is life after death. But is there? The arguments for and against are many and varied.
Obviously, I stand on the side of belief. For me, it goes deeper than just a belief though; it’s tied into my being, my experiences are real. For me. And really, in the inner landscape of my spirituality, that’s what ultimately matters, right? Same for you, too, no matter which side you stand upon.
Since I am a big enough fan that I pay their membership fee, I download the podcasts of Coast to Coast and listen at my leisure. This means I frequently listen to months-old podcasts, immediately followed more current ones.
The guest on August 7th was Matthew Alper, and he stood on the side of the skeptics. He said more than once that he did not accept that there was any survival of consciousness past the physical death of the body. And he quoted a whole slew of scientific experiments and studies.
I did find the premise of his book interesting, that we as humans are hard-wired to have a sense of spirituality, that there is a ‘spiritual center’ to the human brain, much as there is a language, or vision center. I am intrigued enough by his position to want to read all he has to say about it. Because I find it perfectly intriguing that he would find overwhelming evidence for a spiritual center. I don’t agree with his presumed mechanism, but I do agree that we have a center in our brain, a definite physical thing. We differ in that I believe it is there to sense the spiritual realm.
They also have very convincing, scientific articles, studies and research that support their point of view. Which is, briefly, that consciousness exists separate of our physical bodies, and survives physical death. Interestingly, in both shows, the guests used temporal lobe seizures as a point in favor of their arguments. Yeah, it was funny to me too.
Obviously, I found the good doctors’ views more palatable, since they also track with mine. But, in all fairness I have not read either of the books, my insights come from listening to how the guests presented themselves on the air, and reading their websites. Both books are on my reading list, now.
But it started me considering; what a funny animal the human is, that we can look at ‘scientific evidence’ from two such diametrically opposite viewpoints and each be convinced that the ‘science’ supports our own worldview.
Is it a lack of experience with spiritual, or I will say, numinous matters that convinces the skeptic? Or is it perhaps an overabundance of otherworldly encounters that drives another to eschew all contact, denying the experience of their own senses? In other words, ‘locking it away.’ Each can have their own inner reasons for claiming there is no life after death.
Conversely, where does the believer get his faith? What convinces a psychic that it’s more than ‘just her imagination?’
It’s all in the individual’s perception that the distinction lies. Each one of us perceives the world just a little bit differently than the next. Haven’t we all seen examples of people with a narrow focus? Or with a more widely encompassing viewpoint? The challenge to us as humans is to expand our awareness, to try and see things from another’s perspective, to engage our empathy and see the world from outside ourselves. It’s in making that step, that forward motion to understand another that we work towards a better world.
No matter which side of the spiritual fence you stand on, I think we can all agree to that, right?
So what do you think? What has convinced you?