Selected Correspondence Peter
PETER: What others choose to focus their time, energy and passion on is their business entirely.
RESPONDENT: This is a dismissal of this particular thread of conversation by saying it is not an important enough issue for you. Am I reading you right?
PETER: You might have missed the fact that rather than dismiss this particular tangent to the topic we were discussing I have spent a good deal of time here at the keyboard answering your questions about this particular thread.
However, you are right in saying that it is not an important issue for me nowadays simply because I have personally investigated the matter of vegetarianism/ non-vegetarianism and found that at root I had a socially enhanced instinctual revulsion to the fact that life feeds off life. When I clearly experienced that the root of this particular emotion was fear itself, this particular manifestation of a thoughtless instinctual passion never raised its head again. It is an exercise in futility and masochism to feel guilty and be revolted about what one is – a corporeal mortal flesh and blood body.
I do realize that acknowledging facts is not fashionable in this day and age – particularly now that the Eastern Wisdom of ‘not-knowing’ has become so highly prized and Mr. Einstein’s subjective theory that space and time are relative and not absolute is now taken to be true and Mr. Heisenberg’s mathematical musings that matter itself is uncertain is taken to mean that we live in a virtual world – but I personally found not-knowing to be an excuse for not bothering to find out, subjectivity to be an excuse for not making the effort to see the bigger picture and uncertainty to be an excuse for continuing to dither about finding out what I am. I also realize that this whole business of investigating the human condition in action, as ‘me’, is not everyone’s cup of tea but I’ve found the whole business to be utterly fascinating once I got past the initial hang-ups and inhibitions of my own societal morals and ethics.
RESPONDENT: Most attractive were the very basic principles presented by Zen – I particularly liked Bankei, he seemed to have a grasp of the real essence. Why did they then have to bring in all the goofy chanting and incense, and what about that stick? Sheesh.
PETER: Have you ever considered that maybe there was something essentially rotten in Bankei’s ‘real essence’?
RESPONDENT: I was relating historically, careful to use the past tense. I was simply giving you a bit of background as to how I arrived at this juncture. All religion and spirituality is rotten to the core.
PETER: The reason I posted the piece about Bankei’s teachings of ‘realizing the Unborn’ is that you said in the last post –
This is a present tense statement, implying that you still see a link between spiritualism and actualism – if not in subject matter, at least philosophically. Actualism is not a stripped down elemental philosophy, nor a non-spiritual form of Zen, nor a happy-go-lucky form of materialism.
RESPONDENT: No such implication. What attracted me to Zen back then was the element of direct experience of the actual. Perhaps that was only my interpretation, but there is plenty of evidence (on the AF site and elsewhere) that the inspirations for that religion, amongst most or all others, were likely PCEs experienced by the original practitioners. However, they were unanimously misinterpreted, and the experiencers translated them into bliss, satori, ‘Thou Art That’, bla, bla, bla.
PETER: If I can cut to the quick here, what attracted me to actualism in the first place was that it offered freedom from the grim reality of the human condition but what really made me aware to the fact that actualism was the genuine article was that it also necessitated becoming free from all of the spiritual and religious Greater-reality fantasies.
Given your interest in actualism, I am left wondering why you would want to continue to claim that there are similarities between actualism and the spiritual teachings of Zen Buddhism whilst providing no evidence at all to support your claim?
RESPONDENT: To relevance to actualism: If in fact the universe is electric, or if in fact it is filled with rubber duckies ... how is it relevant to actualism?
PETER: If you want to contemplate on life, the universe and what it is to be a human being, ...
RESPONDENT: Most assuredly.
PETER: … and your contemplations are based on the currently-fashionable pseudo-scientific theories of an expanding universe – replete with a Big Bang beginning, full of or even empty of, all sorts of unseen, unseeable and unmeasurable phenomena and which will suffer some Diabolical End –
RESPONDENT: Most assuredly not.
PETER: ... then you will remain in the grip of spiritual belief.
RESPONDENT: What few spiritual beliefs I had in the past are gone now. That was the point of describing a bit of my history ... how it was not a spiritual path.
PETER: Are you saying that reading Eastern spiritual texts, liking what you read and being attracted to the teachings is to be not on a spiritual path? ‘Path’ as in a motivational direction or line of enquiry or the pursuit of an interest or course of action. Perhaps because you took no action, i.e. didn’t get involved in the nuts and bolts of applying any spiritual teachings, you don’t see it as having been on a path but your point does seem somewhat moot to me.
RESPONDENT: Yup, as in ...
… there’s a big difference between ‘motivational direction’ and a ‘line of enquiry’.
The former assumes some measure of commitment or motion, whereas the latter is simply seeing what is on offer and assessing it using common sense. You know, one of the basic techniques central to AF.
PETER: Okay. If I read you right, you were not on the spiritual path because you were never motivated by, or committed to, the spiritual teachings, rather you were only pursuing a ‘line of enquiry’. And again, if I read you right, you have found the spiritual teachings somewhat lacking – particularly when they are put into practice – and you are now pursuing a similar line of enquiry with actualism.
This seems an eminently rational approach as the central proposals and methodology of actualism should be capable of standing up to the rigours of intellectual scrutiny, lest it be yet another spiritual teaching dressed up in the guise of something new. It makes sense to check out what is on offer in order to find out if actualism is something you are willing to commit yourself to after you have made your enquiries – because commitment is an essential ingredient to bring success in any pursuit in life.
PETER: When I first began to dig into these scientific theories I was amazed how unscientific they were, and I say this as a layman with only a basic knowledge of mechanics and engineering. The reason I posted the links about an alternative explanation to the empirical observations of the universe was that the explanations make far more sense to me than those currently held to be the truth.
RESPONDENT: Granted that the present Big Bang theory has many holes, and that the electric universe contingent makes some compelling arguments. This is the scientific method at work: conjecture (aka guess at) a scenario hitherto opaque, conduct experiments to test the scenario, and assess the scenario given the acquired data. Some of these are easy (right angle theorem), some more complex (fundamental nature of the universe). The Big Bang theorem is still a theorem as it has not yet passed the test of the scientific method. Nor has the electric universe theorem. A key element of this process (particularly the first step) is common sense, as you use the term.
PETER: You may have missed the fact from the last post that the man who formulated the Big Bang creation theory was Abbé Georges LeMaître, a central figure in the Vatican’s Pontificia Academia de Scienza di Roma. In other words, the very first step in the process of the formulation of the Big Bang theory, was LeMaître’s religious belief that God created the world out of nothing, that the universe had a beginning – a creation event. The ‘scientific method’ employed in this case was to take a transparently creationist religious belief, create mathematical formula to support the belief, assess any empirical observations solely in the light of the belief and, when holes appear in theory, persist by adding complications to the theory.
After nearly a century of theories built upon LeMaître’s initial theory, some scientists have even come out claiming that they see the Mind of God at work in the universe. The Vatican must be mightily pleased with the current score line in cosmology – Vatican 1/ Empirical science 0.
You might have noticed Richard’s recent post where he posted documentary evidence that the Tibetan Buddhist Dalai Lama is deliberately meddling in, and influencing, what could be termed the human behavioural sciences in precisely the same way that the Catholic Pope meddled in, and influenced, theoretical cosmology. It’s a good ploy on the part of the churches because the distinction between science and religion – between fact and fantasy – remains so blurred in most people’s minds that it is impossible for common sense to even begin to get a toehold, let alone a leg in.
RESPONDENT: No, I didn’t miss your point. It just wasn’t pertinent to my line of questioning. I fully agree that many scientific theories are proposed on the basis of the presenter’s belief system, and that science is used to propagate religious ideas. Just because a theory appears to have the stink of personality, doesn’t disqualify it as a subject of the scientific method. That method, when applied correctly, is impersonal, and the truth will out.
PETER: Given that the topic of our conversation is a scientific explanation of the nature of the universe that explicitly contradicts the explanation of the nature of the universe used in the Big-Bang-creation theory, it seems to me only pertinent to point out that the original source of the Big Bang theory was, by accounts, a vested scientist with more than a passing vested personal interest in upholding the creationist theories of the Catholic religion. Whilst this information is most decidedly not sufficient evidence in itself to disprove the theory, to summarily dismiss it as not being pertinent to this discussion is to be closed-minded, not open-minded.
It makes sense to understand both the source of, and the impetus behind, any belief, concept, theory or action – it is useful information in any investigation, be it that of an actualist, a lawyer, a scientist or an engineer.
As for every theory and belief and religious idea being a worthwhile ‘subject of the scientific method’, I find it hard to take this seriously as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different creationist theories amongst the tribes, cultures and religions of the world. In order to even consider that all of these are a worthwhile subject of the scientific method, one needs to abandon science –
– ignore its fundamental methodology, ignore the basic principles of physics in order to accept that there even is a meta-physical universe in the first place. What you are arguing is that scientists should remain ‘open’ to the belief in meta-physical realms and energies – the belief that underpins all spiritual belief and religious ideas.
The other point I have made previously is that the scientific method itself is often the first casualty in the passionate pursuit of supporting a belief or substantiating a theory –
RESPONDENT: From an experiential point of view, it ‘can only be actually experienced in this moment of time’ is certainly true, but that does nothing to describe the universe’s physical evolution over time.
PETER: Whilst there is ample empirical evidence in the fossil record of this planet to support the theory that vegetate matter emerged from the mineral matter of this planet due to a unique combination of physical conditions – and that it then further evolved into animate matter, conscious animate matter and apperceptive animate matter over time – it is a leap of pure imagination to propose that the universe itself has evolved over time.
The physical universe is ever changing but it is not evolving, because implicit in the word evolution as it is commonly used is that the process of evolution has a beginning point. The universe, being eternal and infinite, had no beginning point, no creation event.
Further, the physical universe is not evolving towards perfection – it is already perfect, as can clearly be experienced in a pure consciousness experience.
RESPONDENT: While that experience implicitly involves my flesh-and-blood, hence can only be happening in this moment, I know also that the flesh-and-blood is subject to physical laws and will eventually become dust. Why would similar laws not apply to the universe too? I ask this in all sincerity, and I’m not arguing the physical nature of the universe, nor its perfection and purity, just how it is pertinent to the matter at hand.
PETER: If I read you right, you seem to be willing to acknowledge that the universe may not have had a beginning, i.e. was not created by someone or something out of nothing, but you are hedging your bets by saying it does not necessarily follow that the universe won’t have an end – an extinction caused by someone or something whereby the universe wimps or bangs into nothing.
I am left wondering why you would abandon half of a belief and yet hold on to the other half?
RESPONDENT: You read me wrong. All I wrote was that the dictionary definition of the word evolution does not imply a beginning point, hence I retracted my statement that the universe ‘evolves’.
PETER: No. The reference to ‘holding on to half of a belief’ was in reference to your comment –
This to me indicates you are sincerely proposing that at least the second half of the creationist belief – that the material universe was created out of ‘nothing’ and can therefore be reduced to ‘nothing’ – has credence.
RESPONDENT: It may be changing (i.e. electrical energy flows), but it doesn’t necessarily become more complex. My point all along is that I do not have enough evidence to determine whether the universe is finite/infinite, eternal/starting/ending, etc. Nobody does.
PETER: Indeed. None who subscribe to any of the theories that the physical universe is finite in time and space have provided any substantive, verifiable evidence of there being an edge to the universe, let alone address the question of what lies beyond the supposed edge? If there is ‘nothing’ beyond the edge, then is that ‘nothing’ infinite or does it too have an edge? Similarly, if the physical universe was created out of nothing, what existed before the supposed creation event? Nothing? Was that pre-existing ‘nothing’ that the universe was supposedly created out of infinite or did it too have an edge?
The ‘present Big Bang theory has many holes’, as you put it, and yet those who hold to these theories and beliefs seem willing to suspend reason, ignore common sense, and blithely accept that the theories of modern cosmogony must have credence solely because the theories are proposed by scientists. What such people also ignore is the fact that these scientists have themselves been trained in cosmogony by the very cosmogonists who proposed the currently-fashionable theories in the first place. This closed-loop spoon-feeding form of teaching invariably leads to a blurring of the distinction between contemporary theory and verifiable fact. I know from my own experience that many of the things I was taught to believe at school as being facts have proved to be falsehoods.
Common sense has it that the universe is infinite in space, eternal in time and perpetual in matter – it simply defies reason to propose that anyone can provide physical evidence that all of the space and matter of the universe came instantaneously into being some 10 billion years ago. It equally defies reason to propose that anyone can provide physical evidence that all of the space and matter of the universe will instantaneously disappear at some time in the future.
It was this uncommon application of common sense that led me to contemplate on the consequences of the infinitude of the universe, which then led me to directly experience this infinitude in what is known as a pure consciousness experience. This is the reason I posted to the list the scientific findings that question the currently-fashionable creationist theories about the universe – contemplating upon such matters could well lead anyone sufficiently interested in actualism to experience for themselves the immediate vibrancy of the actual physical world we corporeal bodies are in fact made of.
RESPONDENT: I subscribe to no belief system regarding the nature of the universe, neither LeMaître’s nor Arp’s. They are all fodder for good discussion and experimentation, but we are far from saying unequivocally ‘that is so’.
PETER: Whilst you say you ‘subscribe to no belief system’, one of your first statements in this thread of conversation gave an unambiguous indication as to your leanings –
RESPONDENT: At this point I do acknowledge that my common sense tells me that the universe is likely infinite in both time and space, but that is more opinion than scientific fact.
PETER: Perhaps, in the interest of getting to the root of this issue, you would like to post the scientific facts that provide evidence that the universe is not ‘infinite in both time and space’. Then we can put them on the table and see if they make sense or not.
Just as a point of interest, you will have noticed I am not alone in questioning the common popular theories in cosmology. You will have noticed that I have previously posted some comments made by Hannes Alfvén, astrophysicist and joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1970 in which he questioned not only the methodology but the substance of the scientific rationale for a finite created universe with a beginning and end.
RESPONDENT: Once again, I am not a proponent of the Big Bang theory, or any other theory. I can offer no proof that the universe is finite or not, and neither can you. It just doesn’t exist to any thinking person’s satisfaction. Maybe some day, maybe not. That is why they are called theories and not facts.
PETER: I notice that you have not commented on the evidence I did offer that other scientists also question not only the evidence offered in support of the theories of a finite or a created universe but also the scientific methodology used in sustaining these theories.
If your definition of a ‘thinking person’ is someone who remains open to the creationist theories being proved as fact ‘some day’, yet remains closed to any evidence that questions the Big Bang theory, then I am very happy at being excluded from your classification of a thinking person.
PETER: As part of my investigation I also delved into theoretical physics and cosmology in order to ascertain whether any evidence had emerged that contradicted Richard’s experience that the physical universe is eternal and infinite. That it had no beginning, can only be actually experienced in this moment of time and has no end, that it has no centre, no ‘holes’ or edges to it other than imaginary ones – and therefore there is no ‘outside’ to it. Reading a few books and scouting around a bit was enough for me to ascertain that, while all sorts of fanciful theories and spurious evidence abounds in theoretical physics and speculative cosmology, no empirical evidence has been found to contradict what Richard says and what everyone has directly experienced in a PCE sometime in their life – that the universe is infinite and eternal and hence peerless both in its perfection and purity.
RESPONDENT: To relevance to actualism: If in fact the universe is electric, or if in fact it is filled with rubber duckies ... how is it relevant to actualism? From an experiential point of view, it ‘can only be actually experienced in this moment of time’ is certainly true, but that does nothing to describe the universe’s physical evolution over time.
The universe, being eternal, can have no ending, no doomsday event.
RESPONDENT: Can you offer a scientific argument as to why the universe should have no end? Common sense or a PCE is adequate to propose the hypothesis, but not the proof.
PETER: I don’t have a scientific argument to offer because it is impossible to refute the arguments of those who believe in a creationist-beginning event or a doomsday-ending event to the universe.
RESPONDENT: That is the nature of beliefs, rather than facts.
PETER: Which in turn explains why it is far easier to fall in line with one group of believers or adopt the chameleon-like stance of agnosticism rather than bother to pursue the facts of the matter – no matter what the consequences may be. As I have said before, my bothering to take the time and make the effort to question the theories of modern cosmogony lead me to a PCE wherein the fact that the universe is, was, and always will be, infinite and eternal became stunningly apparent as a direct and sensual experience.
If I can use your stance as a counterpoint –
… what about this direct sensual experience was a good dose of scientific naiveté.
PETER: This is akin to believers asking for scientific proof that God doesn’t exist or proof that there isn’t life after death. It is beholden upon those who believe to provide empirical scientific evidence to back up their theories and beliefs – after all, it’s their belief, their conviction, their fantasy.
RESPONDENT: But belief absolves one of the need to prove. This is an abdication of responsibility and robs one of the opportunity to experience the actual.
PETER: Yep. Faithfully believing absolves one of the need to prove – hence the need for all believers to have faith and trust. Whereas agnosticism – the doctrine of being ‘uncertain or non-committal about a particular thing’ Oxford Dictionary – not only absolves one of the need to prove but also serves to negate whatever desire or curiosity one may have to even bother to find out.
I would describe myself as having been somewhat of an agnostic in my early life and a spiritual believer in my mid-years – in spiritual belief not-knowing is raised to the status of being a Virtue. Whereas nowadays I have abandoned both of these forms of beliefs and become an actualist – in other words, I have committed myself to finding out the facts of life, the facts of the universe and the facts of what it is to be a human being.
PETER: To be stuck between a hypothesis and a belief is a hard place as I remember it, but out of this confusion came the understanding that certainty lies in the observable facts of down-to-earth matters. Or to put it another way, once I realized that actualism had nothing to do with any spiritual belief whatsoever, it gradually dawned on me that actualism is completely and utterly down-to-earth.
RESPONDENT: Are you referring to me in the above, or just making a general point? I can’t tell.
PETER: I was referring to my own experience as an actualist. I always assume that what I have discovered about the human condition is common-to-all as I have yet to come across anyone, bar Richard, who is un-afflicted by the human condition.
As to whether what I am saying relates to your experience, I noticed that you offered the following comment in your first post on this topic –
If I take a sceptic as being ‘a person who holds that there are no adequate grounds for certainty as to the truth of any proposition whatever’ Oxford Dictionary, my comment that ‘to be stuck between a hypothesis and a belief is a hard place as I remember it’ seems to indicate a mutually shared experience.
PETER: Having said that I don’t have a scientific argument to make, I will offer the scientific explanation as to why –
RESPONDENT: This is a good point, based on our present understanding of physics.
PETER: As I have said previously, an agnostic is not someone who is free of belief; an agnostic is someone who remains ‘open’ to belief, who keeps his or her options open, who has a bet each way. In this case, you are keeping the option of a belief in creationism open by remaining open to some future new understanding of physics providing the necessary proof to turn the belief into a verifiable fact.
As I have said before when you made a similar disclaimer –
RESPONDENT: While that experience implicitly involves my flesh-and-blood, hence can only be happening in this moment, I know also that the flesh-and-blood is subject to physical laws and will eventually become dust. Why would similar laws not apply to the universe too?
PETER: To propose that because flesh and blood human beings are mortal – ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ – it therefore follows that the universe is mortal – ‘will eventually become dust’ – is an anthropocentric viewpoint. Thus far in human history, all of humanity’s wisdoms and truths have been founded upon an anthropocentric viewpoint, be it that of the spiritualists’ much-vaunted search for immortality for the human spirit – the ‘Unborn’ state – or the scientists’ futile search for metaphysical spirit-like creationist forces.
RESPONDENT: You have applied the scientific method to my hypothesis and it has failed. My argument is flawed.
PETER: Flawed or not, you still seem to be arguing for the belief in creationist cosmology, albeit as half a belief. On one side you offer ‘granted that the present Big Bang theory has many holes’ and yet on the other you ask ‘can you offer a scientific argument as to why the universe should have no end?’
RESPONDENT: Again, I am not arguing for any particular side. I am just stating that we do not have the knowledge, tools, etc to determine the veracity of any particular scenario. In fact, it seems you are the one that is holding tightly to a particular POV. From here, it sounds a bit like a belief.
PETER: I can well understand that you regard the perception that the physical universe is infinite in space, eternal in time and perpetual in matter is but a belief. It is becoming increasingly apparent that only way you could intellectually understand it as being a fact is if you abandoned your agnostic stance and dared to come down on one side of the fence or the other – something you appear unwilling to do.
It was only by intellectually understanding that the physical universe is infinite in space, eternal in time and perpetual in matter infinitude is a fact that I could then proceed to wanting to have an experiential verification of this fact and this very act of wanting to find out then led to one of many subsequent PCEs – each one of them born out of a naive curiosity as to the facts of life.
PETER: As I’ve said before, this is not an argument as to who is right or wrong, nor is it really even about the scientific explanations about the nature of the universe – this is a discussion between two fellow human beings, two actualists, about the origin, nature and tenacity of human beliefs, in this case using creationist cosmology as an example.
RESPONDENT: Sounds good to me. I am saying I hold no beliefs about the fundamental nature of the universe. Are you saying the same?
PETER: I am left wondering if you either don’t read what I say or think that I don’t mean what I say. I am saying the infinitude of the universe is a fact, a fact that is fundamental to the laws of physics, a fact that makes sense, a fact that is intellectual rigorous and a fact whose very magicality has been experientially experienced by everyone at some stage in their life in a pure consciousness experience.
RESPONDENT: If so, is this discussion about the popularly held beliefs as to the nature of the universe? I think that we are in agreement about that, and the subject is close to being beaten to death. My original point, and it still stands, is that making any statement about the nature of the universe (a ‘fact’) without a set of data that can withstand the scientific process (common sense), is presumptuous. In my opinion we are far from having enough data to determine whether the universe is finite, infinite, or filled with rubber duckies.
PETER: In restating your position you are again ignoring the evidence I offered of other scientists questioning the evidence used to support of cosmogonical theories, questioning the scientific methodology used in sustaining these theories and pointing out that the scientific principles underscoring these theories runs contrary to the basic laws of the inherent nature and observable behaviour of matter. Rather than beat the subject to death, you seem to be ignoring it to death.
As for linking the ‘scientific process’ with common sense, you yourself have indicated that common sense might be at odds with the currently-fashionable beliefs about the nature of the universe –
It took me a good deal of time to come to understand that common sense, as an actualist refers to it and uses it, is very uncommon in a world awash with, and fixated upon, the supposed wisdoms of archaic superstition-ridden societies.
PETER: If you want an example of scientific method in action this is it – examining the origin, nature and tenacity of human beliefs, in this case using creationist cosmology as an example. We could conduct exactly the same scientific method examination of any other beliefs – the pantheistic beliefs that underpins much of environmental science is another example that comes to mind.
RESPONDENT: Speaking of which ... I’ve recently gone through a painful time in my primary relationship, and in the process peeled back a lot more layers of the onion. It has been very educational, and also offered more proof of the efficacy of the AF method. I have little remaining skepticism. It has dawned on me that HAIETMOBA is running most of the time, almost sub-consciously, and I detect and probe ever more subtle emotions and responses of all types. I also realized that the percentage of my day where I feel excellent is continually increasing. Most amazing. Now, however, I think it’s time to put some energy into inducing some real PCEs to reinforce the results to date. I’m using all the techniques I’ve gleaned from the site to that end.
PETER: One of the techniques you may have come across is the questioning of dearly held beliefs. <snip> This is, after all, what this discussion is really about – the nuts and bolts of abandoning belief and superstition in favour of actuality and sensibility.
RESPONDENT: Thanks. I’ve gleaned that, and other approaches from the site. Belief and superstition are not primary obstacles to me, ... I don’t believe either that the universe is finite or infinite, or that it is filled with gods or fairies.
PETER: To choose to not believe that the universe is finite or infinite is but to remain an agnostic – ‘a person who is uncertain and non-committal about a particular issue’ Oxford Dictionary. An agnostic is not someone who is free of belief; an agnostic is someone who remains open to belief, who keeps his or her options open, who has a bet each way.
RESPONDENT: Are you suggesting that I am an agnostic, or are you making a general statement? I am definitely ‘ uncertain and non-committal about a particular issue’, as I lack enough data to formulate a fact. What would one do, other than remain open?
PETER: As you are asking for advice, I thoroughly recommend abandoning your belief in the wisdom of agnosticism and whole-heartedly committing yourself to actualism. Only you can make such a decision, however – actualism is not about unthinkingly following others.
PETER: In my experience I found it useful to make a distinction between the many disciplines of science. The distinction I make is between what could be called the empirical sciences or applied sciences – engineering, mechanics, chemistry, geology, biology and so on – and the sciences that incorporate a good deal of theory or philosophical speculation – quantum physics, cosmology, climatology and so on. Simply by making this distinction it became clear that it is empirical science – the empirical understanding of physical matter and the physical forces and energies associated with physical matter – that has wrought the incredible progress in human safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure. It also became clear that the sciences that are driven by theory and conjecture – speculating on the nature of matter and then devising scenarios, forces and energies to suit their theories – produce little that is of practical use to anyone.
RESPONDENT: You’re right in that the applied sciences have produced much good (and bad too), …
PETER: I take it from your conditional agreement that you are somewhat sceptical or agnostic about the incredible progress in human safety, comfort leisure and pleasure that has been produced by the practical application of the scientific method of enquiry.
RESPONDENT: Hardly. I am greatly appreciative of advances such as modern dentistry. I am an engineer and like to think that I am doing something to better the lot of all. In fact, I work mostly on medical products, rather than weapons guidance systems, and enjoy my small contribution to the betterment of all.
PETER: Many people divide science into ‘good’ science and ‘bad’ science as though science itself was good or evil. Morals however are subjective values, in the last world war a scientist working on a weapons guidance system for the Allies would be seen as doing good yet one working for the Axis countries would be seen as doing evil. Similarly a scientist working on genetics would be seen as doing good by a sufferer of a disease able to be cured by such research and yet the same scientist would be condemned as evil by those who believed he was interfering with Nature or contravening God’s will.
I will post a piece I wrote about morals as it is also relevant to the latest ‘war’ of morals and ethics that is currently being publicly fought out on the planet –
PETER: This belief is somewhat understandable considering that it emerged in the days when it was universally believed that the world was three layered – a flat earthy plane full of dangerous animals and dangerous humans, a mystifying heavenly realm above and a mysterious underworld below. Eventually it was empirically observed that the earth was not flat but was spherical and subsequent explorations over centuries proved that this was in fact so. Nowadays photos of earth taken from spacecrafts have subsequently convinced all but the wacky that the earth is not flat.
RESPONDENT: This is my point exactly. We base our understanding of the universe on the facts we have gathered using the scientific method, and the tools we have available presently. A spacecraft is a sophisticated tool that allows us to gather useful information about the physical characteristics of the universe. Historically, the availability of ever more sophisticated tools (telescopes, microscopes, particle accelerators,...) has resulted in the refutation of previously held beliefs (masquerading as truths of course). So, the tool that someone invents in the 25th century could prove conclusively that the universe is not actually filled with plasma as previously thought, but actually filled with rubber duckies.
PETER: By the same logic, an agnostic would say it is best to keep one’s options open because ‘higher dimensions’ or evidence of creation or other worlds or black holes or singularities or meta-physical forces, or whatever else one chooses to believe in, might well be found to be true after all. This line of reasoning is often used as a last resort by those who can find no evidence to substantiate their belief and fall back on claiming the evidence does exist but it ‘hasn’t been discovered yet’.
RESPONDENT: So what do you call someone who doesn’t have enough data to satisfy their common sense, therefore cannot make adequate determination of a fact?
PETER: Stubborn? I only say that because you consistently ignore the references I have provided that point to the fundamental flaws in the data and methodology used to substantiate the creationist theories of the universe, i.e. http://www.metaresearch.org/cosmology/PhysicsHasItsPrinciples.asp. On the other hand, you insist that you need to remain ‘open’ that the necessary data that will establish creationist theory as a fact will be provided, sometime in the future, by tools yet to be invented.
As for providing data to satisfy common sense, common sense tells me that the notion that the physical universe – all of matter, space and time – was created at some moment in time, in some place in space, out of nothing, makes no sense. One only needs to ask what existed before the supposed creation event – was there no moment immediately before that creation moment happened? Where did the creation event happen? Did this creation event happen at the centre of the universe and if so where is the centre of the universe? Was there no space existing the moment before the creation event happened? Did the creation event happen in something called no-space at a time called no-time? What is the nature of no-space? What is the nature of no-time? What exactly was the nature of the process that instantaneously caused the creation of all of the previously non-existing physical matter of the universe, set in motion all of the previously non-existing physical forces of the universe?
Speaking for myself, these questions need answers in the form of verifiable scientific data backed up by empirical observation based on sound scientific methodology before I will abandon common sense and acknowledge the theories of cosmogony to be fact.
RESPONDENT: I am presented with several conflicting belief systems, and I’m supposed to pick one? Sorry, no thanks.
PETER: And yet this is a conflict entirely of your own making. You have summarized your conflict before –
On the one hand you acknowledge what common sense tells you, yet on the other you seek scientific proof for a theory that cannot, by the very nature of the theory itself, be proved by empirical measurement. As someone trained in the sciences you would know that to provide empirical scientific evidence that the universe is infinite is an impossibility – for a start one would need an infinitely large telescope, or an infinitely fast spacecraft, or an infinitely long period of investigation.
Speaking personally, I found that if I chose to remain agnostic about the infinitude of the physical universe it meant that I had to deny common sense and this made no sense to me at all. I did realize that the consequences of relying on common sense meant that I was acknowledging that the universe was infinite and eternal. This means that there is no ‘other-world’ other than the physical universe, that there is no ‘out-side’ to the physical universe and there is no ‘other-time’ than can ever be actually experienced other than this very moment.
These are the down-to-earth fundamentals of actualism and, as such, essential to grasp for anyone aspiring to be an actualist.
PETER: I could go on tripping through other fields of scientific discovery and endeavour, but you probably have got the gist of what I am saying – human beings will never be free from the fear and hope inherent in superstition if they insist on believing in higher dimensions, supernatural forces, metaphysical realms, divine beings, good and evil spirits and so on – or persist in hoping that one day science will provide the empirical evidence that spiritual belief so tellingly lacks.
Anthropocentricity runs deep within the human psyche, manifested in each and every human being as ‘self’-centredness. Contrary to popular belief, the universe was not ‘created’ especially for human beings – the human species is manifestly a species of animate life that has evolved from the matter of the universe. So predominant is anthropocentric belief that early humans, out of ignorance, believed the earth to be the centre of our solar system – a geocentric belief – but it has been discovered over time that the earth is but one of a number of planets that orbit the sun, which is but one sun in a galaxy full of suns, which is but one galaxy in an endless cosmos of countless galaxies.
And yet these physical characteristics of the universe have always been so despite the early beliefs and superstitions that the earth was the centre of the world and that this world must have been created by a Someone or Something.
I don’t know wether you came across the modern ‘Fingers of God’ tabulation – if this didn’t send the alarm bells ringing amongst creationist cosmology as to how geocentric, hence anthropocentric, their observations are then nothing will http://www.electric-cosmos.org/arp.htm.
RESPONDENT: I guess I don’t really like the term ‘higher dimensions’ – maybe a better term is ‘characteristics of the universe that are not perceptible at present with the available human senses and tools’.
PETER: Maybe you would like to refect on what characteristics of the universe have changed since the beginning of human awareness of the universe? Such reflection might lead you to the conclusion that the characteristics of the universe exist independently of human sensory perception, and are unaffected in any way by human sensory perception.
RESPONDENT: No argument there. The universe goes about its merry way, caring not one whit for the theories, tools, and techniques of humans.
PETER: Human beings are all subject to universal beliefs that have been passed on unceasingly from generation to generation and are all subject to the passions generated by the genetically-inherited survival instincts. As a consequence of this social and genetic programming, all human beings think and feel themselves to be separate from the physical universe. This is obviously so, for ‘who’ I think and ‘who’ I feel I am is a non-physical being, an ‘I’ who ‘lives’ in a physical body, an ‘I’ who looks out through the body’s eyes, an ‘I’ who feels touch on the body’s skin, who smells through the body’s nose, who tastes with the tongue, who hears through the body’s ears.
This angst of forever feeling separate from the actual physical universe has spawned a world-wide plethora of beliefs and fairy tales about other-worlds and other-times, about mythical spirit-worlds and after-death lives, of metaphysical realms and forces, of Gods and Goddesses, of good and evil spirits, of a Mother-Earth God, of animal Gods, of river Gods, and so on.
Once I realized this experientially in a PCE, when ‘who’ I think and ‘who’ I feel myself to be was is in abeyance, I clearly saw the folly of human beings clinging to the fantasies of spiritual and metaphysical beliefs in a vain attempt to escape from the grim instinctually-fuelled battle of survival that is the human condition and feel some form of connectedness or Oneness. It was then obvious that the practical way to becoming free of this mess was to firstly abandon all spiritual and meta-physical beliefs and then commit myself to becoming free from the feelings of malice and sorrow that are part and parcel of being an instinctually-driven being.
In that way ‘I’ actively dismantle all that stands in the way of me being what I am – this universe experiencing itself as a corporeal flesh and blood body.
RESPONDENT: Again, I emphasize that none of what I am talking about has anything to do with metaphysics or spiritual belief.
PETER: And yet, despite your disclaimer, you have said previously in this post –
The Big Bang theory is a creationist theory – metaphysical in that it presumes there was a force or energy existing prior to the existence of physical matter and that this non-material force or energy then created the physical matter of the universe – and spiritual in that ancient spiritual belief was the prior and still is primary source of all metaphysical theories and beliefs.
RESPONDENT: Or perhaps this pre-existing energy was transformed at some point into the energy and mass of the present universe, by some physical (not metaphysical) process that is beyond our present understanding. It’s not necessarily spiritual just because we don’t understand it.
PETER: This seems to be your standard line of defence of the cosmogonical theories that deny that the physical universe is infinite in space, eternal in time and perpetual in matter.
Leaving the door open to belief is the antithesis of the scientific method – at some point in any line of enquiry one needs to make a decision based on the information at hand at the time and then commit oneself to making some hands-on trial-and-error investigations and empirical observations.
RESPONDENT: So, the tool that someone invents in the 25th century could prove conclusively that the universe is not actually filled with plasma as previously thought, but actually filled with rubber duckies.
PETER: And that the rubber duckies are hiding in the ‘black holes’ which is why we can’t see them and maybe never can. And maybe that is where the Tooth Fairy hides as well which is why children never see her. Such arguments tend to make nonsense out of attempts to have a sensible conversation – they are what could be called conversation stoppers.
RESPONDENT: Peter, occasionally I am having some difficulty with your posts. There are many places where I can’t tell if you are addressing me specifically or the general population.
PETER: If you look back through the conversation you will see that I have taken care to address all of the points you have raised – if I have missed any let me know. I have also taken the opportunity of making some comments relating to what you have written that are of a more general nature so as to make my comments relevant to everyone on this mailing list. After all this is a mailing list for those who are interested in becoming free of malice and sorrow and I do have considerable practical experience in the doing of the business.
RESPONDENT: This makes it tough slogging at times as I am hardly a defender of any popular belief system.
PETER: Yes, you have made it quite clear that your philosophy is to remain open to all beliefs.
RESPONDENT: If we are discussing those, that is one matter, and if we are discussing No 38’s particular beliefs, that is another.
PETER: Whilst there were many beliefs that I didn’t particularly hold to as being ‘my’ beliefs I was quite shocked when I became an actualist as to how many I remained open to. Whilst at first the business of abandoning beliefs was fraught with fear and angst, nowadays it’s more like ‘another one bites the dust’.
RESPONDENT: Environmental conditioning may be the active factor that tips humans and animals into destructive behaviours later (or sooner!) in life. Some subsystems due to genetic coding may be present that are neutral until they encounter conditions which trigger destructive reactions. The instincts may well be hardwired. Richard may have dealt with the conditioning that triggers destructive reactions. He may well have dealt with the finger that pulls the trigger but the trigger may still be intact. Deal with the finger or the trigger and the effect would be the same – harmlessness. I fail to see how a subjective observation could deliver a definitive answer to the question though. Watching your kids and animals may be explainable by your theory but it could be explained by other theories too. Self observation cannot yield much in the way of internal physiological data. I cannot yet see the factors that make your theory necessarily true.
PETER: I see from other posts to this list that you hold it to be a fact that nothing can be known for a fact. Holding such a stance makes a nonsense of trying to conduct a sensible conversation, let alone come to a sensible conclusion, about anything at all … let alone a subject so close to the bone as to why malice and sorrow is intrinsic to the human condition and, as archaeological evidence reveals, always has been.
RESPONDENT: You are kidding me, right? You are shutting down conversation based on another discussion between me and Richard? You are also going to take what I said at the level of parody, as Richard did, and that’s the end of the discussion? I am amazed.
PETER: I don’t take what you have said at the level of parody, I assumed you meant to write what you wrote.
On more than a few occasions, I have spent hours in conversation with people about the human condition, only to have them bring an end to any sensible conversation by declaring that New Age theoretical scientists and mathematicians, having been seduced by Eastern Mysticism hypothesize that matter at the sub-microscopic level (as in beyond observation) doesn’t have a definitive existence and its very existence is so uncertain that we could well regard it as being illusory and that space and time are not constants but have an existence that is relative (as in relative to a human observer) thereby opening the door to all sorts of imaginative theorizing such as Big Bangs, parallel universes, black holes and so on.
Here are but two examples I have written about in the past where people have reverted to playing the no-such-thing-as-a-fact card in order to thwart the possibility of engaging in, or continuing on a sensible down-to-earth conversation about the lot we humans unwittingly have found ourselves born into.
RESPONDENT: Before you go can you answer one question?
PETER: I am not going anywhere as you put it – it’s you who are playing the cards, it’s you who are steering the conversation in the way you want to (as you are doing in this post).
I am simply pointing out that playing the card you are currently playing,
RESPONDENT: Before you go can you answer one question? Q: If an observation comes along that contradicts what you call a fact, what happens to your fact?
PETER: Given that this is your speculation, could you explain what other observation would possibly come along that would contradict the fact that human beings are instinctually-driven animals and that this instinctual program manifests itself in homo sapiens as instinctual passions mainly those of fear, aggression, nurture and desire – given that this is the topic we are talking about. An observation that we are not of-the-earth animals, but made in the likeness of some God, perhaps? An observation that we are indeed aliens seeded here by an alien not-of-earth civilization from a yet to be discovered planet perhaps? These are amongst the common ones – or did you have something else in mind?
RESPONDENT: This is what I said – some theories are so good that they might as well be called fact ... with the proviso that a single contrary observation can render your fact into falsehood at any time. What on earth is so reprehensible about that statement that you would abort a conversation in which you were happy to engage in before you read something ... what ... offensive? ... in another conversation? Or is this all just to avoid answering my previous point? I do wonder.
PETER: As far as I can see I have answered all your points, but just to make it clear, the topic of this conversation is nurture vs. nature, specifically the question as to whether the deep seated passions such as fear, aggression, nurture and desire are caused by imperfect nurturing/ environment or are biologically inherited?
Your stance is that one can never know which is a fact in this case because a single contrary observation can render the fact into falsehood at any time – thus it is that you bring an end to the discussion by evoking the mind-numbing over-arching, all-consuming principle that one can never know anything for certain.
RESPONDENT: I fail to see how a subjective observation could deliver a definitive answer to the question though. Watching your kids and animals may be explainable by your theory but it could be explained by other theories too. Self observation cannot yield much in the way of internal physiological data. I cannot yet see the factors that make your theory necessarily true.
PETER: My suggestion is that, provided you are old enough to have experienced puberty, you too have sufficient life experience to be able to make up your own mind on this issue based on your own experience of how ‘you’ yourself tick and your own observations of other animals, be they non-sentient or sentient, rather than having a subjective opinion one way or the other based solely on what others believe to be true or false.
RESPONDENT: Quite right.
PETER: I am left wondering what it is you are acknowledging as being ‘quite right’ … purely because your philosophical conviction that nothing can ever be know to be a fact would inevitable prevent you from seeing a fact, let alone acknowledge that a fact is a fact even if it was staring you in the face as it were. With this as a mindset, it would obviously be impossible for you to make up your mind about anything.
RESPONDENT: You are so wrong. This must be a joke. You really don’t seem to understand my position, do you? If I didn’t work with facts I would be dead by now (eg ‘the bus is bearing down on you’).
PETER: Look, if you are now changing your position then fine – I have spent years divesting myself of so many beliefs, opinions, platitudes, opinions, truths, psittacisms and the like which I unwittingly took to be fact. T’is par for the course in the becoming free of the human condition.
If a bus is indeed a fact to you, as in being a physical object that has an independent tangible existence in its own right, irregardless of whether a human being is observing it or not, then why should not the chair be a fact and that it is blue in the electromagnetic wavelengths ranging from approximately 780 nanometer (7.80 x 10-7 m) down to 390 nanometer (3.90 x 10-7 m10-7 m) be a fact, irregardless of whether a human being is observing it. If you regard these as facts, in that a hypothetical contrary observation does not turn the big metal box on wheels into a falsehood and nor can it turn a blue chair white let alone make it invisible, then why not apply similar down-to earth evidentiary observations in the matter of determining for yourself as to wether or not the deep-seated passions of fear aggression, nurture and desire are indeed genetically encoded.
RESPONDENT: Taking no position = The ending of all fixed ideas and defensiveness.
PETER: This sounds as though it is the advice of someone who doesn’t want you to make your mind up about anything. This theory is not applied in the world of practical things and events. We humans take many positions. Where we work, where we live, who we live with, what we wear, what we eat, what we want to believe and what we chose not to, what car we drive, what computer program we use, etc. And yet, when it comes to the most vital questions as to human existence, the universe and what it is to be a human being, we are extolled by the Wise Ones to abandon taking a position? Should Galileo not have taken a position, should Columbus have never left Spain, should Pasteur not have taken a position, should Darwin not have taken a position, should LeDoux not take a position? Why should you not take a position about your life?
In the spiritual world taking a position in support of a belief is deemed highly desirable and is rewarded and welcomed by other like-minded believers, but taking a position based on facts and empirical scientific evidence has always been roundly condemned by the church, for facts are anathema to believers. All of the great leaps forward that have increased human safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure have been resisted by spiritual believers and it is only when empiricism broke from the church in the Middle Ages that intelligence began to hold sway over fear-ridden superstition and arcane belief.
Should you take a position based on fact and discard belief you too will run the gauntlet of scorn, derision and ostracization for that is the price to pay for walking upright and free in the world; but the rewards are far in excess of the spiritual ideals for they are actual, tangible, palpable and ever-present. Once you get a taste of what is actual, any synthetic feeling is seen as a paltry second-best.
RESPONDENT: Not knowing: To acknowledge the fact that there still is very much that our human minds can’t grasp and that we might never comprehend fully. To be open for the unthinkable possibility.
PETER: This physical universe is infinite – as big as it gets – and eternal – without a beginning or end – so it is inconceivable that humans will ever know all there is to know. Already the published discoveries are so much more than is possible for any one person to know. Even in one field of science or practical endeavour the amount of study, research and papers published would exceed the capacity of any one person to comprehend, let alone absorb.
But 3,500 years on from the ancient Wise Ones we do know that praying to God, or believing in and surrendering to God-men, has not brought peace to earth, quite the contrary.
Up until now spiritual teachings have been impossible to question openly and sensibly for they were jealously guarded by the priests and their fervent followers, and even then to abandon belief would have meant going back to a God-less existence in the ‘real’ world, bereft of any hope. Thus it is that people usually swap beliefs – Western for Eastern, Heavenly God for Mother Earth, etc. – rather than stop believing in God by whatever name.
Thanks to the Internet we can now conduct our own independent research as to the facticity of Ancient Wisdom and trace it back to its original teachings, we can compare the many Truths on offer and stop the game of pretending that not knowing is a sign of wisdom rather than of stubborn ignorance. There is simply no excuse for not knowing what the Truth is, and when this is discovered each of us is then capable of taking a position as to whether to keep believing in it or abandoning it.
We humans now have enough information at our fingertips to stop ‘not knowing’ and begin to know about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being. This knowledge, when combined with the experiential knowledge of the human potentiality as experienced in a pure consciousness experience, is the key to freedom from the human condition.
‘To be open for the unthinkable possibility’ usually means to be open to God, by whatever name, or ‘to be open’ to all sorts of spurious meta-physical theories, such as space-time continuums, dark matter, black holes, cyclic time, time reversing universes, parallel universe, etc.
RESPONDENT: These qualities/values can be very useful when investigating in a serious manner. I don’t think they contradict with empirical studies either, they could be used when formulating theses and in theoretical science for example. They might not be that useful in every execution of a study in the laboratory, then it’s of course our rational ‘side’ of our minds that are good at structuring and comparison that rule.
PETER: It is our fellow human beings, the practical scientists, chemists, engineers, explorers and the like that have given we humans very useful things. The Gurus, philosophers, theoretical scientists and the like have given us nothing but theories, beliefs, concepts, ideas, scenarios, dreams, nightmares, hope and hopelessness.
As I began to abandon the spiritual world, I serendipitously discovered someone who had abandoned Enlightenment and had worked out a ruthlessly effective empirical method for eliminating one’s social identity and all of one’s instinctual passions. Give me something that works over an ideal or a theory any day.
RESPONDENT: Don’t you think that these qualities actually could help in experiencing the PCE? If one is going to be able to perceive life directly as it really is instead of trying to force reality upon us (ASC) I think that we have tremendous use of humility and openness.
PETER: If one begins by feeling humble and then goes searching for an experience of something other than grim reality, I suspect one will end up finding a Greater Reality to feel humble to and feelings of gratitude will come sweeping in. By being ‘open for the unthinkable possibility’ any form of impassioned imagination is possible.
However, if your search is for purity and perfection and you keep whittling away at your beliefs, then one day while wistfully contemplating and softly relaxing, you might notice a sensuous delight, a vibrancy in things around you, a perfection and purity, a silence and infinitude beyond imagination. But be careful not to seize the experience as yours or you will feel the chest swell and the head swoon and in will flood passionate imagination to replace actual delight.
RESPONDENT: Even though life is factual, both you and I know that there are some obstacles that prevent us from living life as it is, our instinctual programming for one.
PETER: Because your existence as a flesh and blood body is factual the obstacles that prevent you from being happy and harmless have a factual grounding. The spiritual seekers who went before us were right about one thing – ‘who’ we think we are is illusionary. They dared not question ‘who’ they felt they were deep down inside, for to consider eliminating that was death itself – extinction, not transcendence. To challenge this instinctual self is to release a cocktail of chemicals producing fear and dread or, if salvation is imagined, ecstasy and euphoria. The Enlightened ones chose ecstasy and euphoria and their miraculous salvation drives them to be saviours of mankind. Thus is born yet another God-man and yet another religion if he musters enough followers by his charismatic Presence.
Both ‘who’ you think you are and ‘who’ you feel you are the obstacles that prevent you from being happy and harmless but we all know that from the peak experiences we have had. I found it was simply a matter of having the courage and dignity to stop denying that knowing.
RESPONDENT: I think there is great subtlety to these matters and therefore I think it is very essential to be open and not try to control life in anyway. I mean, doesn’t self-immolation imply that we’re able to give up ALL our limiting ideas about life and ourselves in a sense so that we can live the actuality of life. You said that a PCE can often be drug related and that also implies that we need to let go of ourselves and let life really show itself.
PETER: I see nothing subtle about the animal instinctual passions in humans when our normal methods of controlling them break down. Unless this fundamental genetic programming is addressed in our search for freedom, peace and happiness, any attempts to let go of control will end up as in the traditional delusions generated by the ‘good’ instinctual passions running amok.
One needs to dismantle one’s social identity – all the beliefs, morals and ethics that have been instilled in us since birth, and then take a clear-eyed look at the instinctual passions in operation in ourselves – both the tender passions and the fierce passions – in order to become actually free of the human condition.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.