Reincarnation? Life After Death?

I am not ashamed to identify myself as a listener of Coast-to-Coast AM. Often I sit at night in my bed, reading and writing as I listen to the program as it lulls me off in to the land of sleep. The show has been gaining in popularity over the years, most primarily for its coverage of the UFO phenomenon, but its subjects span well into the realm of the paranormal and beyond. The difficulty with listening, however, is just because of this variating subject matter.

c to c

You see, the show expresses a tendency to mix factual subjects with fictional subjects. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, this problem tends to perpetuate belief in the supernatural, something of which I have a problem with on a number of levels. On the other hand, the fact/fiction blending tends to keep my critical thinking skills constantly on edge, and constantly in the process of being sharpened. For example, for one hour, a guest speaker may discuss — in a professional speaking voice — problems that are occurring in the Middle East. In the next hour, a different guest speaker — in the same kind of highly professional speaking voice — might discuss the purported multitude of evidence supporting the notion that life on earth began with the help of aliens, that evidence of their existence is on Mars, and that the Egyptian Pyramids were constructed with their aid. Thus, I am able to listen to the discussion on the Middle East with understanding and interest, but then forced to roll my eyes at the prospect of my distant ancestors being aliens!

The host of the show is actually quite the crafty individual. George Noory is a confirmed believer in the supernatural and, not surprisingly, a believer in the biblical God figure himself. He’s a worrisome person because he has a mass following of listeners. Because of his authoritative position as public entity, people adhere to the beliefs he dictates, something he does with the craftiness I have mentioned. Which brings me to the point of my post.

About a week ago, Mr. Noory exclaimed at the beginning of his show something like, “Listen to this incredible evidence of the afterlife!” He goes on to discuss the events of a boy who exhibits the markers of reincarnation.

Evidence

Reincarnation. This is a wild one; dreamy even. It is a longing for escape from the inevitability of death, a factor of which religion most certainly thrives on, but I digress. The details of the story involve that of a 3-year-old boy who claims he was murdered in a previous life, and is able to locate both his body — and the man who killed him.

And imagine the evidence given: It’s a picture of a boy pointing! I totally believe it!

The problems here mount high, though. Firstly, I have learned of the story through third and fourth hand sources. Mr. Noory conveys the details as reported by Tara MacIsaac, who reports on information documented by the German Therapist Trutz Hardo, who learned of and wrote about the story from a certain Dr. Eli Lasch, who died in 2009.

2009? Mr. Noory was exclaiming as though the story had just occurred. At any rate, Dr. Lasch claims to have witnessed the events, but what does this really mean? This brings me to the second problem, involving what the famous Dana Scully would clearly tell her partner in such a case:

Scully 2

In other words, the boy has “red a birthmark on his head,” he “knew the village he was from,” he “remembered the full name of his killer” — who apparently went white in the face when confronted — and “then [the boy] said he could take the elders to where the [his previous] body was buried. In that very spot, they found a man’s skeleton with a wound to the head that corresponded to the boy’s birthmark” (source).

This is the “evidence” that Mr. Noory was up in arms about? Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary to explain why this is bogus. But the crafty way Mr. Noory slides in the notion that a story like this is what justifies belief in the supernatural and by proxy, all the dangerous doctrines of religion, is unnerving. For the record I would like to state: No, Mr. Noory, this innately coincidental story prodded along by the handiwork of Dr. Lasch and fed through multitudinous channels of narration does not constitute what the scientific community would consider as “evidence.”

And on the subject of evidence, it just so happens that the night I heard Mr. Noory clamoring about this evidence was only a few days after I watched a documentary that I rented from my local video store:

Life After Death

I had been walking by this DVD for a few months, wondering, all the while getting my expectations riled up for something that was going to rock my world with some serious methodological insight into the possibility of the afterlife. Ha! What a sucker I turned out to be.

The situation entails a man, Paul Davids, who has had associations with the now-deceased-yet-still-famous-science-fiction-collector Forrest J. Ackerman. Apparently one day, Davids had set some paperwork down on his bed which had something to do with Ackerman. He left the room and when he came back, lo and behold — there was a wet splotch on the paper! The splotch was clean, as if man-made, and marked out the words: “Spoke to Joe Amodei.” Of course, this event was not caught on tape, thus a recreation was filmed, and from this point the entire documentary hinges upon Paul Davids in his endeavor to figure out how the splotch came to be. His claim: That F. J. Ackerman was trying to communicate from beyond the grave.

I know. Pretty tawdry. To add to my dismay, the viewing experience was a drab affair. Yet after being dragged from scientists who analyzed the paper, to mediums who claimed they were receiving psychic information from Ackerman from beyond the grave, a list was provided at the end which detailed a summary of so-called “proofs”:

Strange occurrences: In this case, Davids is working from the presumption that the blotting out of the paper is proof of the supernatural. ??? (Hint at explanation: He blotted the thing out himself.)

Synchronicities/alignments/coincidences: E.g: In pertaining to the event with filmmaker Mike MacDonald, the phone rings with no one on the other end when Ackerman is thought-of and/or mentioned, following a visit to his grave. (Hint at explanation: wrong number? phone company mishap? wiring?)

Apparent communication through mediums: The mediums in this case were speaking about Ackerman, as though he were communicating information to them, but the problem here is simple: Ackerman is famous. Anyone can learn information about others, where the fact is magnified when people are famous. (Hint at additional explanation: acclaimed psychic mediums apply practiced mental gymnastics which can make it appear as though they’re accessing inaccessible information when in truth, they’re playing games of chance.)

Specially implemented sensitive technology: This one was interesting in that an attempt at the scientific method was approached. However, testing the paper didn’t really conclude anything; and that it was done by someone with a “PhD” didn’t mean much either. The scientist confessed on camera, that he couldn’t figure out how the splotch came to be, and that the splotch couldn’t be replicated. Really, though, how could a splotch be replicated? Wouldn’t something like that equate the snowflake phenomenon? In addition, if the scientist couldn’t figure out how the splotch came to be, then it means he was unwilling to suggest that Davids made the splotch himself — which is ultimately unscientific in and of itself.

Apart from testing the splotch, attention was given to a man named Dr. Gary Schwartz, who claims that spirits can be detected by placing a  photon detector inside of a box…inside of another box. The argument: photons detected are evidence of spirits. (Hint at explanation: If photons are actually detected, then they are photons. In other words, how could anyone know what the material make-up of a spirit is?)

What to conclude?

I have never known what to make of reincarnation. When I was a professed Christian, I would have balked at the idea of coming back to earth after being in heaven. But then, I never really reached a conclusion as to whether I would die and be resurrected, or if I would die and then go straight before my maker. Nowadays, of course, I realize a different reality about death. In the case of the boy who’s found his murdered body, I call BS. Reincarnation, as admitted in the article, is part of a superstitious belief as realized by a localized culture. Playing on this vulnerability, anyone could have found the body with the head wound, then located a boy with a birthmark, and thus a hoax is born. In this case, the boy was only three, very easy to manipulate.

For the afterlife documentary, I see vain spiritualists attempting to convince the world that life after death exists; because seemingly, in the deepest of their own hearts, they know they can’t convince themselves that it really does. Apart from that, what I thought was going to be a compelling case turned out to be nothing more than the same television tinsel I’ve been observing since Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of (1977-82). But don’t get me wrong, back in the day, that was a great show.

 

 

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28 Responses to Reincarnation? Life After Death?

  1. john zande says:

    I’m fond of the reincarnation idea only because it doesn’t displace responsibility. The individual owns their actions and is judge, jury, and executioner in the process. If people have to believe in something then that is the least offensive system, and it fits neatly into all concepts of secular-humanist society.

    • LEjames says:

      Interesting, I never would’ve thought.

      If I read you correctly, you’re saying that even though you don’t believe in actual reincarnation, if any belief were to be permissible in a society, this would be the one.

      • john zande says:

        Something like that. I think people will always believe in something. It makes their lives more interesting. Believing in reincarnation (with karma attached) is, i suppose, the least noxious of all belief systems, and it has the added value of empowering an individual to act in a way that would serve their own self-interest, and through that, societies. Well, in theory, at least.

      • LEjames says:

        In theory, indeed. It would be interesting to read more about your thoughts on this subject, but there I go, hinting at things.

    • Howie says:

      Your comment here took me by surprise John. You trying to spread some Karma here?

  2. Linuxgal says:

    Art Bell was great to listen to on those all-night drives from Portland to Denver, but I didn’t believe a word of it. I like the bumper music for Coast to Coast AM though, from Axess “Chameleon”

    • LEjames says:

      I like and miss Art Bell, though sometimes they play repeats of him on Sundays.

      And, of course, everything said on that show has to be taken with a grain of salt; it’s all money-making gimmicks for them.

      Thank you saying something here; I saw your work with some blogger who thinks Atheism is a religion and I had to visit your blog…that guy was nuts!

      And thanks for mentioning the composers of that music, it certainly is good.

  3. Linuxgal says:

    If Atheism is a religion then not collecting stamps is a hobby. As for that guy, unlike him, I don’t have eternal life to piss away arguing when it ain’t gonna to do no good.

  4. Howie says:

    Great post. I’ve listened to very late night radio before and it’s weird stuff.

    It’s fine to say there is evidence for these kinds of things – it’s also proper to say that it’s poor and insufficient evidence just like you are saying. Seriously, a blotch on a piece of paper? And a story passed through several people? Reminds me of the gospels for which scholars have no idea how many people the stories were passed through.

    We’ve got evidence that rises to this level for so many claims in this world that we’d have to accept an inordinate amount of crazy things in order to be consistent.

    • LEjames says:

      Thank you for stopping by and reading! And I’m glad you wrote something too, because the word “consistent” is huge. In order for me to be comfortable in my own skin, I have to be consistent in how interpret the world around me. Religionism and Spiritualism never allowed me to do this; Atheism does.

      Of course, the conundrum here is that people like Mr. Noory are consistent in boasting about insufficient evidence, and it seems this is how the problem I’ve described in my post persists.

  5. Alice says:

    I agree with John that I think reincarnation is one of the least noxious of beliefs and if anything were true life after death, I would like it to be that. :)

    • LEjames says:

      Alice, would that be with, or without, karma attached? : P

      This all reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live skit in which they depict Jim Morrison returning to life as a disgruntled little girl and Louis Armstrong as a tree stump.

      • Alice says:

        I never saw that sketch:) I like the idea of karma, since it does hold one accountable for one’s actions. Of course, if one doesn’t remember past lives and what they did to merit their current condition, I don’t see how that is going to improve the state of that “soul”.

      • LEjames says:

        That is why I have trouble with the reincarnation theory. I certainly don’t recall living a past life.

        The notion of karma, though, that’s a tricky concept to dance around. I think I’d like to explore it more in depth, time allowing! I just finished seven years of schooling, so now I’m in life-limbo for the moment.

  6. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi says:

    I know about my previous birth. My name was Kamta Prasad Sinha and I later became Fourth Spiritual Guru of Radhasoami Faith. Kamta Prasad Sinha then knows as Sarkar Sahab. This was revealed to me by His Holiness Maharaj Sahab (1881-1907), the Third Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith. Sarkar Sahab (1871-1913) left the world at a very early age. He could not complete all his work during this period. Now I am completing those work from where I left the work in my previous birth.

  7. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi says:

    “Unaccomplished activities of past lives are also one of the causes for reincarnation. Some of us reincarnate to complete the unfinished tasks of previous birth. The is evident from my own story of reincarnation:
    “My most Revered Guru of my previous life His Holiness Maharaj Sahab, 3rd Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith had revealed this secret to me during trance like state of mine. This was sort of REVELATION.
    HE told me, “Tum Sarkar Sahab Ho” (You are Sarkar Sahab). Sarkar Sahab was one of the most beloved disciple of His Holiness Maharj Sahab. Sarkar Sahab later on became Fourth of Spiritual Head Radhasoami Faith.
    Since I don’t have any direct realization of it so I can not claim the extent of its correctness. But it seems to be correct. During my previous birth I wanted to sing the song of ‘Infinite’ (Agam Geet yeh gawan chahoon tumhri mauj nihara, mauj hoi to satguru soami karoon supanth vichara) but I could not do so then since I had to leave the mortal frame at a very early age. But through the unbounded Grace and Mercy of my most Revered Guru that desire of my past birth is being fulfilled now.”
    I am one the chief expounder and supporter of Gravitation Force Theory of God. This is most scientific and secular theory of God. This is the Theory of Universal Religion. I have given Higher Theory of Everything. Sometimes back I posted this as comments to a blog on:
    ‘Fighting of the Cause of Allah by Governing a Smart Mathematics Based on Islamic Teology’
    By Rohedi of Rohedi Laboratories, Indonesia. Rohedi termed my higher theory of everything more wonderful than which has been developed by Stephen Hawking. Some details are quoted below:
    rohedi
    @anirudh kumar satsangi
    Congratulation you have develop the higher theory of everything more wonderful than which has been developed by Stephen Hawking. Hopefully your some views for being considered for Unified Field Theory are recognized by International Science Community, hence I soon read the fundamental aspect proposed by you.
    I have posted my comments to the Blog of Syed K. Mirza on Evolutionary Science vs. Creation Theory, and Intellectual Hypocrisy. Syed Mirza seems to be a very liberal muslim. He responded to my comments as mentioned below.
    “Many thanks for your very high thought explanations of God.
    You said:
    “Hence it can be assumed that the Current of Chaitanya (Consciousness) and Gravitational Wave are the two names of the same Supreme Essence (Seed) which has brought forth the entire creation. Hence it can be assumed that the source of current of consciousness and gravitational wave is the same i.e. God or ultimate creator.
    (i) Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator, Source of Gravitational Wave is God”
    Whatever you call it, God is no living God of any religion. Yes, when I call it “Mother Nature” is the God generated from all Natural forces and Gravitational force is the nucleus of all forces or we can presume that Gravitation is the ultimate guiding principle of this Mother Nature we call it non-living God unlike living personal God of religions. I can not believe any personal God would do so much misery created for its creation. Hence, only non-living natural God can explain everything in the Universe. When we think of any living personal God, things do not ad up!”
    I have also discovered the mathematical expression for emotional quotient (E.Q.) and for spiritual quotient (S.Q.).
    Austrian Scientist Rudolf Steiner says,
    “Just as an age was once ready to receive the Copernican theory of the universe, so is our age ready for the idea of reincarnation to be brought into the general consciousness of humanity”.

  8. Mortem Fide says:

    Oh, Dana Scully. My high school love. Great piece, by the way.

    • LEjames says:

      Gillian Anderson has captivated the hearts and minds of a billion men by now probably, but I still like to think I know her personally, as though I still have a chance. lol

      Thanks for reading!

      • Mortem Fide says:

        And, for me at least, as though she’s still Dana Scully providing the skeptical voice to Fox Mulder’s willingness to believe anything supernatural. We all need a little Scully in our lives.

      • LEjames says:

        What a superb point. The X-Files is such a unique show for the way they display topics of inexplicability, only to have them dissected by opposing points of view.

        And Dana Scully, she represents the voice of reason; this character is indeed iconic for this trait.

      • Mortem Fide says:

        Absolutely. The only problem, of course, is that Mulder was often right. But, then again, if Scully was always right, there would have been no premise on which to base a show about the supernatural!

  9. JD Manas says:

    I don’t see how this articles entire dismissal of the apparent case as ‘bogus’ is justified – Ian Stevenson had a whole body work of the same type of cases that encompassed a span of around forty years.

    On the other hand it does seem ‘too good to be true’ and considering the details given by the boy it would seem strange that Stevenson didn’t hear about the case and researched it for himself. However if the case does have an element of truth in it based on the other details a hoax would seem unlikely firstly the villagers didn’t know the man (who the boy claimed to be in his past life) was dead, they presumed he was missing.

    How could someone randomly come across the body and the weapon which were buried at two separate locations? Only the murderer would know.

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