Atheism Intelligent Design Naturalism Philosophy

Making a mess of understanding eternity

Spread the love

Here’s an article arguing against eternity (life after death), essentially a reflection based on Yale lit prof Martin Hägglund’s This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom:

A systematic articulation of the atheistic world view, the one Marilynne Robinson may have been waiting for, is provided by an important new book,’s “This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom” (Pantheon). Hägglund doesn’t mention any of the writers I quoted, because he is working philosophically, from general principles. But his book can be seen as a long footnote to Pliny, and shares the Roman historian’s humane emphasis: we need death, as a blessing; eternity is at best incoherent or meaningless, and at worst terrifying; and we should trust in ourselves rather than put our faith in some kind of transcendent rescue from the joy and pain of life. Hägglund’s book involves deep and demanding readings of St. Augustine, Kierkegaard, Marx, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (with some Theodor Adorno, Charles Taylor, Thomas Piketty, and Naomi Klein thrown in), but it is always lucid, and is at its heart remarkably simple. You could extract its essence and offer it to thirsty young atheists.

His argument is that religious traditions subordinate the finite (the knowledge that life will end) to the eternal (the “sure and certain hope,” to borrow a phrase from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, that we will be released from pain and suffering and mortality into the peace of everlasting life). A characteristic formulation, from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians, goes as follows: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” You die into Christ and thus into eternity, and life is just the antechamber to an everlasting realm that is far more wondrous than anything on earth. Hägglund, by contrast, wants us to fix our ideals and attention on this life, and more of it—Camus’s “longing, yes, to live, to live still more.” Hägglund calls this “living on,” as opposed to living forever. James Wood, “If God Is Dead, Your Time Is Everything” at New Yorker

Perhaps this is why the raging Woke would prefer to smash things rather than study them.

If time is a line that runs in one direction, eternity is the dense reality that lies outside the line. If a person thinks that nothing lies outside the line, they are not only wrong but diminished as a result.

Whether life beyond this life is a blessing or a curse has traditionally been held to depend largely on what we do with this life. It is a magnification either way.

Wood tells us that Hägglund hopes that more socialism will result from adopting his view.

See also: Disproofs of God’s existence are falling on hard times these days Omnipotent means the power to do any possible thing. Christians, for example, say that God “became man and suffered for us under Pontius Pilate.” So the answer to McGinn’s questions (“does he have the power to sneeze or digest food or pick his nose”) is yes, though it requires incarnation in a human body.

and

Religious Nones: The bigger picture shows increasing polarization The rise of the Nones means something important: Those who care about the Big Questions are more VISIBLY polarized. In politics, the Religious Nones are the largest group in the Democratic Party (30%) and 70% of declared Republicans believe in the “God of the Bible.” The “religious left” seems to be largely an artifact of thinkmags today, although it was an important force decades ago.

 The Confused World of Modern Atheism (Mosaica Press, 2016)

Follow UD News at Twitter!

21 Replies to “Making a mess of understanding eternity

  1. 1
    jstanley01 says:

    As usual, the materialist numb skulls manage to argue the exact opposite of what the evidence demonstrates. That our transient thoughts and actions, not to mention our very selves, could have eternal implications imbues those those thoughts and actions, not to mention our very selves (which, I know, I do keep mentioning notwithstanding; so sue me), with meaning that, as mere chemical reactions sparked by chance and necessity on Carl Sagan’ “speck of dust,” they could in no wise attain.

    It was ironic to the point of everlasting hilarity to me, listening to an interview with the NASA engineer who initially analysed the image that Sagan waxed so eloquent upon, to learn that the “sunbeam” in the photo is actually an artifact of the camera lens.

  2. 2
    hazel says:

    Phil Ochs song, “When I’m Gone”, performed by Ani Difranco

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Rn_fwE4SFg

    There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong when I’m gone
    And I won’t know the right from the wrong when I’m gone
    And you won’t find me singin’ on this song when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    And I won’t feel the flowing of the time when I’m gone
    All the pleasures of love will not be mine when I’m gone
    My pen won’t pour out a lyric line when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    And I won’t breathe the bracing air when I’m gone
    And I can’t even worry ’bout my cares when I’m gone
    Won’t be asked to do my share when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    And I won’t be running from the rain when I’m gone
    And I can’t even suffer from the pain when I’m gone
    Can’t say who’s to praise and who’s to blame when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    Won’t see the golden of the sun when I’m gone
    And the evenings and the mornings will be one when I’m gone
    Can’t be singing louder than the guns when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    All my days won’t be dances of delight when I’m gone
    And the sands will be shifting from my sight when I’m gone
    Can’t add my name into the fight while I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    And I won’t be laughing at the lies when I’m gone
    And I can’t question how or when or why when I’m gone
    Can’t live proud enough to die when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

  3. 3
    hazel says:

    And a famous Dylan line, from “Visions of Johanna”:

    Inside the museums, infinity goes up on trial
    Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while

  4. 4
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Wood tells us that Hägglund hopes that more socialism will result from adopting his view.

    This has always been the fatal flaw of the left’s utopianism, their religion of salvation in this life through our own works. For socialism has always been a feeble attempt to justify Christian ethics without resort to God.
    And that is all it ever has been and all it ever will be. It is feeble because, of course, it simply cannot be done.
    To note just one obvious parallel, Jesus Christ says that he and the father are one, and prays that we all also might be one.
    The man who claimed to be bigger than Jesus, John Lennon, sings his paean of hope that one day we’ll all join his godless dream and the whole world live as one.
    I know who I’m betting on.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    How surprised will those people be who apparently crave their own deaths to be permanent to find that their own life does not end at the grave after all?

    Will there be much bargaining on their part with the God that they railed so vehemently against while here on this earth? Perhaps like the rich man tried to bargain with Abraham?

    Luke 16:24-31

    So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

    25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

    27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

    29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

    30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

    31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    A case of looking through the telescope from the wrong end.

    We need to start with logic of being and its link to the root of the world if eternity is to be made sense of. (And yes, I know many will want to express lack of interest and do a walkaway or ignore at this point. That does not alter the weight of the matter on its merits, so do bear with a few thoughts on matters ontological.)

    First, we can conceive of possible worlds as sufficiently complete descriptions (in propositions joined together by various logical connectives) of how this or a world could be; including of course abstract mathematical domains. This allows us to think in a very broad way about being. First, some things are impossible of being as core characteristics stand in mutual contradiction, e.g. a square circle. There is no possible world in which x could be if x is a square circle. If some y by contrast is possible of being, it would exist in at least one possible world, say W, were it instantiated. If y is such that in another possible world “neighbouring” W, i.e. W’, y would not exist, then y is contingent, causally dependent on some factor c in W but not in W’. Think of the enabling factors for a fire. However, if some z is such that in ANY possible world W, it would exist, z is independent of external enabling causal factors c, and indeed can best be understood as being part of the framework for any world W to exist.

    As we can see by using the fire, contingent entities often begin, are supported and may cease from being depending on what is happening with the cluster of enabling factors. Similarly, no y’ that is a composite constructed from proper separately existing parts c1, c2 . . . cn can be necessary, as y’ depends on presence and correct assembly of the parts. No material entity made up from atoms etc can be a necessary being. By contrast, a proposed z that is a serious candidate will either be impossible of being (an x in disguise) or else it exists without beginning or end once any world is. Where, a genuine nothing or non-being o, is such that it cannot have causal powers. If ever there were utter nothing, such would forever obtain, as a direct result.

    Accordingly, once an actual world is (such as we inhabit) at least one SOMETHING is a case of z and is framework for our world. Considering necessary abstracta such as domains of numbers starting from {} –> 0, {0} –> 1 etc, in fact utterly transfinitely many things are necessary.

    We also see that an eternal entity is either a necessary being in itself or is coeval with it. We have a concept of eternity connected to necessary being. Obviously, we can see that something q may begin but thereafter be sustained as a sort of forward eternal. Indeed, we can see a limitless succession going forward that is potentially transfinite in the sense that as time (or an analogue to time) rolls forward, at any T, however large there are onward valid times in which q is or will be as sustained in being. In this context, we may envision a causal-temporal succession of finite stages that once begun continues without upper limit. We can also contrast temporally bound beings that begin, are sustained, cease, e.g. a fire. But by contrast there is no possible world W or stage W_T where the number 2 does not exist. 2 being a necessary, abstract entity, part of the logical framework of structure and quantity in any world.

    In this context, we can see ourselves as finite, contingent beings who conceivably can be semi-eternal in the forward going sense as outlined. We may then reckon with our being morally governed, starting with undeniably known duties to truth, right reason, prudence, sound conscience, justice etc. As such can only be grounded in a necessary being root of reality who is inherently good, we can see a concept of God as eternal being. Namely, God is the inherently good, utterly wise creator who is also necessary of being and the maximally great being. This instantly reflects a familiar picture.

    One consequence of this is, as God is a serious candidate necessary being, that either God is impossible of being or else is actual. And yes, those who deny the existence of God (however they may dress it up), imply the claim that God is impossible of being. A pretty strong though implicit claim, and one that I daresay no one has met. Especially, after the problem of evil has collapsed as a serious claim, given the force of Plantinga style freedom based defenses.

    KF

  7. 7
    hazel says:

    ba writes, “How surprised will those people be who apparently crave their own deaths to be permanent to find that their own life does not end at the grave after all?”

    I don’t see anyone “craving” that death is permanent, any more than I might “crave” that the sun is going to go down. It’s just a fact of life that death happens. And yes, I would be very surprised to find that my life doesn’t end at the grave, although of course I, while living, will never know if that surprise happens. And if it (the surprise) doesn’t happen, I’ll never know that, either.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Well Hazel, you waxed poetically in post 2 as if you are sure life ends at the grave, so ‘craving death’ is certainly an appropriate observation of your position.

    Then there is also your position on abortion that leaves one wondering just how much you really do love life over death.

    But regardless, I am sure I could also wax poetic with thousands of songs about life after death and the joyous reunions of those who have passed on before us, and of being in the unspeakable blissful experience of God’s presence,,,

    On that day when I see
    All that You have for me
    When I see You face to face
    There surrounded by Your grace
    All my fears swept away
    In the light of Your embrace
    Where Your love is all I need
    And forever I am free

    Where the streets are made of gold
    In Your presence healed and whole
    Let the songs of heaven
    Rise to You alone
    https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/10-awesome-songs-about-heaven/#ixzz5oPEMjCFA

    ,,, but instead of waxing poetic I prefer to be a bit more, shall we say, scientific and to thus reference the actual structure of physical reality itself, as well as the evidence from quantum biology which supports the reality of a ‘soul’, as well as reference the millions of testimonies of those who have died for a short while and returned to tell us about life after death.

    And whereas, atheists have no compelling evidence whatsoever for all the various extra dimensions, parallel universe and/or multiverse scenarios that they have put forth, (Sept. 2018),,,
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/uchicago-researchers-those-extra-dimensions-aint-out-there/#comment-665287
    ,,,, Christians, on the other hand, can appeal directly to the higher dimensional mathematics behind Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity and General Relativity to support their belief that God upholds this universe in its continual existence, as well as to support their belief in a heavenly dimension and in a hellish dimension.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/what-is-the-platonic-realm/#comment-670144

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – video
    https://youtu.be/LHdD2Am1g5Y

    How Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness Correlate – video (27:15 minute mark, how quantum information theory relates to molecular biology)
    https://youtu.be/4f0hL3Nrdas?t=1634

    Imagine Heaven – Near Death Experience Evidence for the Afterlife (with interview of Dr. Mary Neal towards the end of the video)
    https://vimeo.com/140585737

    But hey, its only science right?

    Verse:

    Luke 23:43
    Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

  9. 9
    hazel says:

    ba writes, “You waxed poetically in post 2 as if you are sure life ends at the grave, so ‘craving death’ is certainly an appropriate observation of your position.”

    Actually I didn’t wax poetically: Phil Ochs and Ani Difranco did. But more seriously, why does being sure, or at least living my life as I am sure, that life ends at the grave “craving death”. I don’t see at all why you think my attitude about accepting death is the same as craving it.

  10. 10
    EDTA says:

    Hazel,
    Dang those lyrics are depressing! You shouldn’t be here replying to our posts! You should be out there having a good time, QUICK!!! Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you di–never mind; don’t think about it! Run! Your actions have no consequences (long-term anyway–remember the heat death of the universe). So expand the ways in which you allow yourself to have fun. Quick! Time is running out! As you get older, the number of ways in which you can enjoy life only diminishes. Don’t worry about what other people will think of you; that doesn’t matter either. Just get to it! You could be incapacitated in a car accident tomorrow, and then what meaning will be left in life?

    (Yes, I’d really rather you’d turn to God instead. But I’m trying to see life from your perspective…and as you can tell, I’d make a mess of things trying to live from that perspective.)

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Hazel, contrary to what you and other atheists believe, because God exists, and because your life does not end at the grave, your life has far more meaning, purpose and value than you can possibly imagine right now. Moreover science, our best science at that, backs up this fact.

    Is There Meaning to Life? – Dr Craig videos (animated video)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKGnXgH_CzE

    Atheistic Materialism vs Meaning, Value, and Purpose in Our Lives
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqUxBSbFhog

    Whether you are even aware of it or not, you have been sold a big fat pack of nihilistic falsehoods.

    That God is really real, and that there really is life after death, is the greatest news that could possibly be for mortal humans.

    Why atheists fight tooth and nail against such a wonderful truth is beyond me.

    It is simply insane to do so. It is as if the greatest mansion in the world was freely offered to someone living in a garbage dump, and he chose to continue living in the garbage dump instead. Preferring morsels of trash to the untold riches of heaven.

    John 14:2
    In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

  12. 12
    hazel says:

    Boy, EDTA, that’s not what I get from those lyrics, and I don’t find them depressing.

    A few threads back I spent some time describing a humanist perspective on life, which I think is the context of “When I’m Gone”. I’m not interested in revisiting that that, or starting up the whole “you can’t have real meaning in your life” argument.

    But I think the song does a good job of expressing a humanist viewpoint because even if there is life after death (the song doesn’t mention that), the only opportunity we have to exercise our humanity is when we are alive.

    Some lines:

    “And I won’t know the right from the wrong when I’m gone”: this life is where we need to make judgments about what is right and what is wrong

    “All the pleasures of love will not be mine when I’m gone”: the ability to love is one of our most important attributes

    “Won’t be asked to do my share when I’m gone”: we need to help others in our joint efforts to have good lives

    “Can’t say who’s to praise and who’s to blame when I’m gone”: again, it is up to us to make judgments about how we want ourselves and others to live

    “Won’t see the golden of the sun when I’m gone, And the evenings and the mornings will be one when I’m gone”: we experience the beauty of nature (and the beauty of art)

    “Can’t be singing louder than the guns when I’m gone”: we need to be a voice for peace, not war

    “Can’t add my name into the fight while I’m gone”: again, here and now is where we need to make our contributions for the things we think are valuable and right.

    Thread on humanism: https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/jerry-coyne-insists-that-secular-humanism-is-not-a-religion/#

  13. 13
    EDTA says:

    Hazel,

    You may not have intended to start up the “meaning in life” discussion, but I think that song would bring it up in many people’s minds. In particular, the continual reference to being gone, and not being able to do anything after one is gone, can only refer to a humanistic view of death as the complete end of every act and every opportunity.

    We would agree it seems, that what we do in this life is important, and the things mentioned in the song are of course good things that we should do while we are here. But my perspective goes so much further, to include the fact that the next life is important also, and and that the wrong things here get set right there. (I don’t see any way humanity can set things right on its own. I just don’t.)

    So a question: For you, does life have any transcendent meaning? Or is meaning all individual? If transcendent, what if humanity goes extinct before getting off the planet, reaching the singularity, etc.?

  14. 14
    hazel says:

    You’re right, EDTA, I did bring up the subject of, to use a convenient term, humanism, by posting “When I’m Gone”

    And I understand, very well I think, that many people believe in life after death, and, as you say, “that the next life is important also, and and that the wrong things here get set right there.” I don’t believe that, but I also know that that perspective is very important to those that do.

    I pointed out that we discussed all this recently on the thread on humanism that I linked to in post 12: in fact, you posted something there at post 4 that moved the conversation along. I don’t know whether you continued reading that thread, but some of my thoughts were at posts 15, 18, 23, 24, and 32, before the thread veered off into some interesting metaphysics. If you haven’t already, you might read those.

    You ask, “For you, does life have any transcendent meaning? Or is meaning all individual? If transcendent, what if humanity goes extinct before getting off the planet, reaching the singularity, etc.?”

    I don’t think that either/or question is adequate to capture my beliefs, in part because I think essential parts of the subject of it are unknowable. I can say with some certainty that I don’t believe in any transcendent meaning about or for human beings that exists separate from human beings, so if human beings go extinct (which I am virtually certain will happen before the universe ends), then all human meaning will be gone.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Hazel states:

    I can say with some certainty that I don’t believe in any transcendent meaning about or for human beings that exists separate from human beings, so if human beings go extinct (which I am virtually certain will happen before the universe ends), then all human meaning will be gone.

    Again Hazel, you have no scientific basis for your beliefs other than your own atheistic/nihilistic preference for how things should be.

    Science could care less how you personally prefer things to be.

    One of the primary places that atheists try to ‘scientifically’ claim that our lives have no meaning is with the Copernican principle and/or the Principle of Mediocrity. Specifically, the ‘principle of mediocrity’ assumes that nothing is special about humanity’s situation

    Copernican principle
    Excerpt: In physical cosmology, the Copernican principle, is an alternative name of the mediocrity principle,,, stating that humans (the Earth, or the Solar system) are not privileged observers of the universe.[1]
    Named for Copernican heliocentrism, it is a working assumption that arises from a modified cosmological extension of Copernicus’s argument of a moving Earth.[2] In some sense, it is equivalent to the mediocrity principle.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copernican_principle

    Carl Sagan coined the term ‘principle of mediocrity’ to refer to the idea that scientists should assume that nothing is special about humanity’s situation
    https://books.google.com/books?id=rR5BCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA187#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Mediocrity principle
    Excerpt: The (Mediocrity) principle has been taken to suggest that there is nothing very unusual about the evolution of the Solar System, Earth’s history, the evolution of biological complexity, human evolution, or any one nation. It is a heuristic in the vein of the Copernican principle, and is sometimes used as a philosophical statement about the place of humanity. The idea is to assume mediocrity, rather than starting with the assumption that a phenomenon is special, privileged, exceptional, or even superior.[2][3]
    per wikipedia

    Stephen Hawking, via the Copernican Principle and/or The Principle of Mediocrity, once stated “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit.,,,”

    “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit.,,,”
    – Stephen Hawking – 1995 TV show, Reality on the Rocks: Beyond Our Ken,

    And yet, despite the fact that practically everybody, including the vast majority of Christians, hold that the Copernican principle, and by default “The Principle of Mediocrity’, are unquestionably true, the plain fact of the matter is that the Copernican Principle has now been overturned by both General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Which happen to be two of our very best, most precisely tested, theories ever in the history of science:

    Einstein himself stated that, The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS [coordinate systems].”

    “Can we formulate physical laws so that they are valid for all CS [coordinate systems], not only those moving uniformly, but also those moving quite arbitrarily, relative to each other? […] The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS could be used with equal justification. The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS.”
    Einstein, A. and Infeld, L. (1938) The Evolution of Physics, p.212 (p.248 in original 1938 ed.);

    Fred Hoyle and George Ellis add their considerable weight here, in regards to General Relativity overturning the Copernican Principle, in these following two quotes:

    “The relation of the two pictures [geocentrism and geokineticism] is reduced to a mere coordinate transformation and it is the main tenet of the Einstein theory that any two ways of looking at the world which are related to each other by a coordinate transformation are entirely equivalent from a physical point of view…. Today we cannot say that the Copernican theory is ‘right’ and the Ptolemaic theory ‘wrong’ in any meaningful physical sense.”
    Hoyle, Fred. Nicolaus Copernicus. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., 1973.

    “People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations… For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations… You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds… What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”
    – George Ellis – W. Wayt Gibbs, “Profile: George F. R. Ellis,” Scientific American, October 1995, Vol. 273, No.4, p. 55

    As Einstein himself noted, there simply is no experimental test that can ever be performed that can prove that the earth is not the center of the universe:

    “One need not view the existence of such centrifugal forces as originating from the motion of K’ [the Earth]; one could just as well account for them as resulting from the average rotational effect of distant, detectable masses as evidenced in the vicinity of K’ [the Earth], whereby K’ [the Earth] is treated as being at rest.”
    –Albert Einstein, quoted in Hans Thirring, “On the Effect of Distant Rotating Masses in Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation”, Physikalische Zeitschrift 22, 29, 1921

    Even Stephen Hawking himself, who once claimed that we humans are just chemical scum on an insignificant planet, stated that it is not true that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong,,, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.”

    “So which is real, the Ptolemaic or Copernican system? Although it is not uncommon for people to say that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong, that is not true. As in the case of our normal view versus that of the goldfish, one can use either picture as a model of the universe, for our observations of the heavens can be explained by assuming either the earth or the sun to be at rest.
    Despite its role in philosophical debates over the nature of our universe, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.”
    Stephen Hawking – The Grand Design – page 39 – 2010

    In fact, in the 4-Dimensional space-time of Einstein’s General Relativity, it is left completely open for whomever is making a model of the universe to decide for themselves what is to be considered central in the universe:

    How Einstein Revealed the Universe’s Strange “Nonlocality” – George Musser | Oct 20, 2015
    Excerpt: Under most circumstances, we can ignore this nonlocality. You can designate some available chunk of matter as a reference point and use it to anchor a coordinate grid. You can, to the chagrin of Santa Barbarans, take Los Angeles as the center of the universe and define every other place with respect to it. In this framework, you can go about your business in blissful ignorance of space’s fundamental inability to demarcate locations.,,
    In short, Einstein’s theory is nonlocal in a more subtle and insidious way than Newton’s theory of gravity was. Newtonian gravity acted at a distance, but at least it operated within a framework of absolute space. Einsteinian gravity has no such element of wizardry; its effects ripple through the universe at the speed of light. Yet it demolishes the framework, violating locality in what was, for Einstein, its most basic sense: the stipulation that all things have a location. General relativity confounds our intuitive picture of space as a kind of container in which material objects reside and forces us to search for an entirely new conception of place.
    http://www.scientificamerican......nlocality/

    Even individual people can be considered central in the universe in the four-dimensional space-time of General Relativity,,,

    You Technically Are the Center of the Universe – May 2016
    Excerpt: (due to the 1 in 10^120 finely tuned expansion of the 4-D space-time of General Relativity) no matter where you stand, it will appear that everything in the universe is expanding around you. So the center of the universe is technically — everywhere.
    The moment you pick a frame of reference, that point becomes the center of the universe.
    Here’s another way to think about it: The sphere of space we can see around us is the visible universe. We’re looking at the light from stars that’s traveled millions or billions of years to reach us. When we reach the 13.8 billion-light-year point, we’re seeing the universe just moments after the Big Bang happened.
    But someone standing on another planet, a few light-years to the right, would see a different sphere of the universe. It’s sort of like lighting a match in the middle of a dark room: Your observable universe is the sphere of the room that the light illuminates.
    But someone standing in a different spot in the room will be able to see a different sphere. So technically, we are all standing at the center of our own observable universes.
    https://mic.com/articles/144214/you-technically-are-the-center-of-the-universe-thanks-to-a-wacky-physics-quirk

    ,,, Moreover, when Einstein first formulated both Special and General relativity, he gave a hypothetical observer a privileged frame of reference in which to make measurements in the universe.

    Introduction to special relativity
    Excerpt: Einstein’s approach was based on thought experiments, calculations, and the principle of relativity, which is the notion that all physical laws should appear the same (that is, take the same basic form) to all inertial observers.,,,
    Each observer has a distinct “frame of reference” in which velocities are measured,,,,
    per wikipedia

    The happiest thought of my life.
    Excerpt: In 1920 Einstein commented that a thought came into his mind when writing the above-mentioned paper he called it “the happiest thought of my life”:
    “The gravitational field has only a relative existence… Because for an observer freely falling from the roof of a house – at least in his immediate surroundings – there exists no gravitational field.”
    http://physics.ucr.edu/~wudka/.....ode85.html

    Whereas, on the other hand, in Quantum Mechanics it is the measurement itself that gives each observer a privileged frame of reference in the universe. As the following researcher commented, “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”

    Experiment confirms quantum theory weirdness – May 27, 2015
    Excerpt: Common sense says the object is either wave-like or particle-like, independent of how we measure it. But quantum physics predicts that whether you observe wave like behavior (interference) or particle behavior (no interference) depends only on how it is actually measured at the end of its journey. This is exactly what the ANU team found.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said Associate Professor Andrew Truscott from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-05-q.....dness.html

    And as Anton Zeilinger states in the following video, “what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in a certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    Because of such evidence as this from quantum mechanics, Richard Conn Henry, who is Professor of Physics at John Hopkins University, stated this “It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.”

    “It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial, and have fears and agonies that are very similar to the fears and agonies that Copernicus and Galileo went through with their perturbations of society.”
    – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/quantum.enigma.html

    There is also evidence from Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) anomalies, as well as evidence that we live at the geometric mean, (i.e. ‘the middle’), of all possible sizes in the universe, that further falsifies the Copernican principle. But the main point being is that you Hazel, whether you even realize it or not, no longer have any scientific basis for your belief that our lives have no ultimate meaning and purpose.

    And as was pointed out in the later half of this video I referenced previously,

    Atheistic Materialism vs Meaning, Value, and Purpose in Our Lives
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqUxBSbFhog

    ,,, there are many more lines of powerful scientific evidence that can be brought to bear in overturning your atheistic belief in nihilism.

    So to repeat, “you have no scientific basis for your beliefs other than your own atheistic/nihilistic preference for how things should be.”

    i.e. You may very strongly want and desire your nihilistic opinion to be true, but without any scientific evidence to back up your claim, indeed with many lines of scientific evidence directly contradicting your claim, you belief is simply unwarranted, and even worse than that, your belief is an exercise in self-delusional since you have simply refused to accept reality as it really is.

    Verse:

    Jeremiah 29:11
    11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

  16. 16
    john_a_designer says:

    Generally I am skeptical of accounts of out of the body NDE’s. Because they are so subjective they don’t prove anything though I am willing concede that many, if not most, of the people who report these kinds of experiences are being sincere.

    However, I find the following Youtube clip from a recent movie, based on a real life stranger-than-fiction incident (Dec. 2011) about a young girl, Anna Beam, who falls head first 20 feet down inside an old hollow Cottonwood tree to be very compelling. But it’s not her experience but what happened afterwards that gives me pause. After the fall Anna was miraculously cured from a serious digestive tract condition (pseudo-obstruction motility disorder and antral hypomotility disorder) that her doctors, including one of the country’s top specialists, had diagnosed as both life threatening and incurable.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXiVw3hiyWk

    The following are a few of the news accounts and articles which document the incident:

    https://www.wfaa.com/video/features/miracles-from-heaven-star-jennifer-garner-and-author-christy-beam/287-1894184

    https://insider.foxnews.com/2015/04/14/miracles-heaven-near-fatal-fall-cures-sick-little-girls-symptoms

    http://www.historyvshollywood......om-heaven/

    Nevertheless, The History vs. Hollywood article suggests that this all could be a hoax.

    Is it possible that Annabel Beam’s story is a hoax?

    Yes. Supposed true stories about people visiting heaven have increased in popularity in recent years. Though there is often no real way to prove them true or false, a few have turned into cash cows for their subjects. With the case of the Beam family and Miracles from Heaven, one could conclude that financial worries led the family to fabricate the story, but there is currently no way to prove that assertion. Is it possible that Annabel was knocked unconscious during the fall and had a dream? Should we simply dismiss Annabel’s sudden recovery and explain it as the mesmerized doctor suggested in the movie, that bumping her head might have knocked things into place with regard to her nervous system? Or is that in itself a miracle?

    However, if you take the time to look at this incident objectively you’ll find that if this is a hoax it’s got to be one of history’s greatest hoaxes. Frankly, if you honestly think through everything that this family would have to fabricate and manipulate that’s just not credible.

  17. 17
    ScuzzaMan says:

    John
    Hoaxes do exist, and therefore any story is either (A) true, or (B) not true (i.e. hoax).
    Unbelievers have been crying “Hoax!” over every account of Christian history since the very beginning of human history:
    Did God really say … ?
    The thing I find of interest, when confronted with the hoax-cryers today, is to ascertain the criteria they use to accept or reject any historical account. What I have invariably found is that their criteria are not consistently applied and they readily accept as truth accounts having a minuscule fraction of the supporting evidence of those they reject. Such double-standards are the coin of a bankrupt philosophy.

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    John_a_designer you state,

    Generally I am skeptical of accounts of out of the body NDE’s. Because they are so subjective they don’t prove anything

    As to you writing NDEs off because they are “so subjective”, it might interest you to know that all of empirical science is 100% reliant on the subjective observations of people and the accurate reporting of what they saw in their subjective observations. In fact the first step in the scientific method is “observation” itself:

    Steps of the Scientific Method
    Observation/Research
    Hypothesis
    Prediction
    Experimentation
    Conclusion
    http://www.sciencemadesimple.c.....ethod.html

    And quantum mechanics now proves that subjective ‘observation’ is not just something that we can rely only on our scientific instruments themselves to make.

    As John von Neumann explains, as far as quantum mechanics is concerned, “we must always divide the world into two parts, the one being the observed system, the other the observer.”

    “We wish to measure a temperature.,,,
    But in any case, no matter how far we calculate — to the mercury vessel, to the scale of the thermometer, to the retina, or into the brain, at some time we must say: and this is perceived by the observer. That is, we must always divide the world into two parts, the one being the observed system, the other the observer.”
    John von Neumann – 1903-1957 – The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, pp.418-21 – 1955

    And as was already referenced in post 15, quantum mechanics has now verified that “measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    Thus science itself is 100% dependent on subjective observation.

    But I know what you are really getting at John_a_designer when you are saying NDEs are “so subjective”. It is that they are not making accurate, repeatable, measurements with scientific instruments during their NDEs. And thus we have no way of knowing whether or not the NDEs were imaginary or whether they were actually real. But I hold that there is a way to ‘scientifically’ know that the NDEs are actually real.

    In order to do this we must first take a look at what we know to be true from special relativity.

    As we know from special relativity, time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop for a hypothetical observer travelling at the speed of light.

    To grasp the whole concept of time coming to a complete stop at the speed of light a little more easily, imagine moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light. Would not the hands on the clock stay stationary as you moved away from the face of the clock at the speed of light? Moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light happens to be the very same ‘thought experiment’ that gave Einstein his breakthrough insight into special relativity. Here is a short clip from a video that gives us a look into Einstein’s breakthrough insight.

    Einstein: Einstein’s Miracle Year (‘Insight into Eternity’ – Thought Experiment 55 second mark) – video
    http://www.history.com/topics/.....racle-year

    That time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop at the speed of light, and yet light moves from point A to point B in our universe, and thus light is obviously not ‘frozen within time, has some fairly profound implications.

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Dr. Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 11

    The only way it is possible for time not to pass for light, and yet for light to move from point A to point B in our universe, is if light is of a higher dimensional value of time than the temporal time we are currently living in. Otherwise light would simply be ‘frozen within time’ to our temporal frame of reference.

    And indeed that is what we find. “Hermann Minkowski—once one of the math professors of a young Einstein in Zurich—presented a geometric interpretation of special relativity that fused time and the three spatial dimensions of space into a single four-dimensional continuum now known as Minkowski space.”

    Spacetime
    Excerpt: In 1908, Hermann Minkowski—once one of the math professors of a young Einstein in Zurich—presented a geometric interpretation of special relativity that fused time and the three spatial dimensions of space into a single four-dimensional continuum now known as Minkowski space. A key feature of this interpretation is the definition of a spacetime interval that combines distance and time. Although measurements of distance and time between events differ for measurements made in different reference frames, the spacetime interval is independent of the inertial frame of reference in which they are recorded.
    Minkowski’s geometric interpretation of relativity was to prove vital to Einstein’s development of his 1915 general theory of relativity, wherein he showed that spacetime becomes curved in the presence of mass or energy.,,,
    Einstein, for his part, was initially dismissive of Minkowski’s geometric interpretation of special relativity, regarding it as überflüssige Gelehrsamkeit (superfluous learnedness). However, in order to complete his search for general relativity that started in 1907, the geometric interpretation of relativity proved to be vital, and in 1916, Einstein fully acknowledged his indebtedness to Minkowski, whose interpretation greatly facilitated the transition to general relativity.[10]:151–152 Since there are other types of spacetime, such as the curved spacetime of general relativity, the spacetime of special relativity is today known as Minkowski spacetime.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacetime

    One way for us to more easily understand this higher dimensional framework for time that light exist in is to visualize what would happen if a hypothetical observer approached the speed of light.
    In the following video clip, which was made by two Australian University Physics Professors, we find that the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape as a ‘hypothetical’ observer approaches the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light.

    Optical Effects of Special Relativity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQnHTKZBTI4

    OK now that we have outlined the basics of what we know to be true from special relativity, It is very interesting to note that many of the characteristics found in Near Death Experience testimonies are exactly what we would expect to see from what we now know to be true about Special Relativity.

    For instance, many times people who have had a Near Death Experience mention that their perception of time was radically altered. In the following video clip, Mickey Robinson gives his Near Death testimony of what it felt like for him to experience a ‘timeless eternity’.

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video (testimony starts at 27:45 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voak1RM-pXo

    And here are a few more quotes from people who have experienced Near Death, that speak of how their perception of time was radically altered as they were outside of their material body during their NDEs.

    ‘Earthly time has no meaning in the spirit realm. There is no concept of before or after. Everything – past, present, future – exists simultaneously.’
    – Kimberly Clark Sharp – Near Death Experiencer
    https://www.near-death.com/science/research/time.html

    ‘There is no way to tell whether minutes, hours or years go by. Existence is the only reality and it is inseparable from the eternal now.’
    – John Star – NDE Experiencer
    http://www.near-death.com/expe.....rch13.html

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    As well, Near Death Experiencers also frequently mention going through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension:

    Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience (NDE)? – article with video
    Excerpt: “Very often as they’re moving through the tunnel, there’s a very bright mystical light … not like a light we’re used to in our earthly lives. People call this mystical light, brilliant like a million times a million suns…”
    – Jeffrey Long M.D. – has studied NDE’s extensively
    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightlin....._gydvW8jbI

    The Tunnel and the Near-Death Experience
    Excerpt: One of the nine elements that generally occur during NDEs is the tunnel experience. This involves being drawn into darkness through a tunnel, at an extremely high speed, until reaching a realm of radiant golden-white light.
    https://www.near-death.com/science/research/tunnel.html

    In the following video, Barbara Springer gives her testimony as to what it felt like for her to go through the tunnel:

    “I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.”
    Barbara Springer – Near Death Experience – The Tunnel – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv2jLeoAcMI

    And in the following audio clip, Vicki Noratuk, who has been blind from birth, besides being able to see for the first time during in her life during her Near Death Experience, Vicki also gives testimony of going through a tunnel:

    “I was in a body, and the only way that I can describe it was a body of energy, or of light. And this body had a form. It had a head, it had arms and it had legs. And it was like it was made out of light. And it was everything that was me. All of my memories, my consciousness, everything.”,,, “And then this vehicle formed itself around me. Vehicle is the only thing, or tube, or something, but it was a mode of transportation that’s for sure! And it formed around me. And there was no one in it with me. I was in it alone. But I knew there were other people ahead of me and behind me. What they were doing I don’t know, but there were people ahead of me and people behind me, but I was alone in my particular conveyance. And I could see out of it. And it went at a tremendously, horrifically, rapid rate of speed. But it wasn’t unpleasant. It was beautiful in fact.,, I was reclining in this thing, I wasn’t sitting straight up, but I wasn’t lying down either. I was sitting back. And it was just so fast. I can’t even begin to tell you where it went or whatever it was just fast!” –
    Vicki’s NDE – Blind since birth –
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e65KhcCS5-Y

    And in the following quotes, the experiencers both testify that they firmly believed that they were in a higher dimension that is above this three-dimensional world, and that the reason that they have a very difficult time explaining what their Near Death Experiences actually felt like is because we simply don’t currently have the words to properly describe that higher dimension:

    “Regardless, it is impossible for me to adequately describe what I saw and felt. When I try to recount my experiences now, the description feels very pale. I feel as though I’m trying to describe a three-dimensional experience while living in a two-dimensional world. The appropriate words, descriptions and concepts don’t even exist in our current language. I have subsequently read the accounts of other people’s near-death experiences and their portrayals of heaven and I able to see the same limitations in their descriptions and vocabulary that I see in my own.”
    Mary C. Neal, MD – To Heaven And Back pg. 71

    “Well, when I was taking geometry, they always told me there were only three dimensions, and I always just accepted that. But they were wrong. There are more… And that is why so hard for me to tell you this. I have to describe with words that are three-dimensional. That’s as close as I can get to it, but it’s really not adequate.”
    John Burke – Imagine Heaven pg. 51 – quoting a Near Death Experiencer
    http://www.amazon.com/Imagine-.....080101526X

    Thus in conclusion, the validity of NDEs while being “so subjective”, none-the-less, matches exactly what we would expect to be true beforehand from one of our most accurately verified theories in science, i.e. special relativity.

    And while it is certainly true that one cannot place too much emphasis on just one Near Death Experience as being undeniably true, none the less, since the experiences are verified repeatedly by millions of different people who have died for a short while and have come back to tell us of the experiences, then the ‘subjective observations’ of these people, (of a timeless eternity and of ‘going through a tunnel’), are, none the less, reliable in that they do indeed exactly match the characteristics of what we would expect to be true beforehand from what we know to be scientifically true from special relativity.

    I would even go so far as to say that such corroboration from ‘non-physicists’, who know nothing about the intricacies of special relativity, is a complete scientific verification for the overall validity of NDE testimonies.

    Of supplemental note:

    Texas Pastor John Burke Says Near-Death Experiences Are ‘Amazingly Biblical’ (Video) – Oct 25, 2015
    ‘How You Think About Heaven Affects Everything in Life,’ Says Gateway Church Pastor
    http://www.christianpost.com/n.....eo-148156/

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a protein/gene, or of a molecular machine), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says – Wed April 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
    The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
    “To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
    The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
    Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/.....periences/

  20. 20
    Brother Brian says:

    I just read BA77’s comments on NDEs, and I think that I just had one. 🙂

  21. 21
    hazel says:

    LOL!

Leave a Reply