Certainty about Spiritual Phenomena

From: Lee Corbin (lcorbin@tsoft.com)
Date: Sat Jul 28 2001 - 18:02:28 MDT

Samantha writes

> Lee wrote

>> I am as certain that there is no God as I am that a
>> man walked on the moon, and equally sure that there
>> is no non-technological afterlife, as say the propo-
>> nents of reincarnation claim.
> Ah. Are you as certain that your idea of technology and what it
> can and will be into the indefinite future is complete enough
> that you can be certain what that future technology (almost
> indistinquishable from magic) will and will not enable?

I'm pretty confident. David Deutsch's chapter on virtual
reality in "The Fabric of Reality" does a good job of
explaining how anything computable can be rendered by
a universal image generator. So, as far as what can be
experienced, I would say yes. Now, of course, as to
whether certain capabilities will obtain, (say timeloops,
or transformations involving black holes, other physics
challenges) one is of course completely uncertain. Does
that answer your question? Sorry if not. Repeat or
explain how I might answer further, thanks.

> Are you certain that none of that near-magic is not
> already afoot and that none of it had a part in our
> own being here?

Yes. I am about as confident of that as I am that
evolution is a fact, and is the process by which people
derived from inanimate matter. I am also as confident
that no magic is presently at work on our world as I
am that my brain is not in a jar in Moscow, with all
the amazing inputs to it being created by diligent

> If there is an afterlife it will be through technology
> we can see coming...

Are you certain that becoming reborn and accepting Jesus
as your personal Savior won't guarantee your everlasting
life with God, in a much simpler and more straightforward

> ...or through technology that we don't have much clue
> about that may or may not already be locally present.

Yes, but to me only in the sense that this might be a
simulation *only*. (That is, there never really was life
on Earth, never was a multiverse, never really was
anyone except the persons now living, and we are
experiencing only a computer simulation devised by
some alien.) I don't believe that any secret technology,
alien or future, is here at work on Earth. I believe in
all the patterns of human fallibility and delusions
chronicaled by "The Skeptical Inquirer".

> Are you so sure of how Mind will grow and extend and what its
> limits will ultimately be as to say there is no such Mind
> already present or will not be or that it will not transcend
> time itself?

Well, since you are asking for my opinion, I don't think
that there is a shred of evidence that there is such a
Mind already present. I have entertained the idea that
large collections of human beings, especially nations,
which sometimes seem to have a personality, are conscious.
But on reflection and analysis, it doesn't to me seem to
be the case. So I believe that a present Mind is about as
likely as a present God.

> Are you so utterly certain that all who claim to
> have been touched by such a Mind or have caught a
> small glimpse of it or from within it are simply
> victims of a biochemical storm and nothing else?

Basically yes. Now I do not deny the possibly beauty
and significance of their visions. Indeed I imagine
that their experiences have captured some deep
aspirations of humanity, and have probably encoded
a number of poetical and summarizing impressions of
our lives. But experiences that result from religious
ecstacy or drugs are not to be trusted for the delivery
of fact about our universe (so I contend). All
conjectures about what is actually happening in our
universe (I further contend) must survive the gauntlet
of critical skepticism and non-trivial efforts at
objective falsification.


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