I’m somewhat accustomed to receiving presents on my birthday, but it was something of a surprise when a friend sent me a present on his birthday. I felt pretty bad, because I didn’t get him anything.
His gift was a link to the website for the Campaign for Philosophical Freedom, specifically directing me to a page featuring a program divided into eight parts called The Science of Eternity. It’s the best present I’ve ever received to commemorate someone else’s birthday. It turned out to be quite educational.
I learned something about Sir William Crookes, the brilliant British scientist. Crookes was a chemist who discovered the chemical element thallium, essential for medical equipment such as MRI machines. He was also a physicist who invented the vacuum tube, essential discoeries making the computer monitor and television screens possible.
The program also exposed me to the work of Sir Oliver Lodge, another British physicist who invented wireless telegraphy, which also contributed to the invention of television by Scottish engineer John Logie Baird.
All three men were also founding members of the Society for Psychical Research, and the video claimed these men allegedly carried out experiments that “proved” life continued after physical death of the human body.
The substantiation for those claims turned out to be a bit difficult to find; the interviewee and presenter alluded to the existence of proof of the afterlife, but didn’t describe or elaborate on it. The definition of scientific proof offered was “repeatable experiments backed up with a theory that has a mathematical base”, but got sketchy after that.
Instead, author Michael Roll extolled his evidence because articles were published in the peer-reviewed Quarterly Journal of Science in 1874, and he repeatedly claimed others were successful duplicated the result of these “scientific” experiments without describing what they were. However, he does hint that a medium, or psychic, was used in these experiments.
Michael Roll described the scientists seeking proof of a “natural” continuation of life after death of the physical body as survivalists, as opposed to spiritualists, normally associated with religious beliefs. In fact, Roll proved remarkably hostile to any form of religion, admitting in his pamphlet that his intention was not to persuade people like me, but Richard Dawkins. Roll wrote,
The only way I can win Prof. Richard Dawkins over to accepting survival after death is if I keep hitting him with scientific facts. When people fully materialise from the etheric world at our experiments, they answer all the questions we fire at them. This then becomes hearsay, not scientific facts. I hit Prof. Dawkins with hearsay at my peril. This mountain of hearsay coming from the people in the “next world” is very interesting, but we can only put this in our pending tray as something to think about. It is only the priests who want you grovelling before them and blindly believing in their supernatural, divisive doctrines and dogmas. Scientists and philosophers want you standing up straight with your head held high, very carefully checking everything that is said. We must all remove the dreadful priestly word “belief” from our vocabularies.
Unfortunately, Mr. Roll chose the wrong target audience. Richard Dawkins is a rather adamant materialist. He would have had a much better chance of convincing author Sam Harris (The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation) to take him seriously.
Harris acknowledged his openness to the idea of a mystical realm in “The Four Horsemen“, a philosopher’s love fest featuring Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. At about the 9:00 mark of the video, Harris indicated a willingness to at least entertain the idea of an ethereal world when he said, “I still use words like spiritual and mystical without furrowing my brow too much, much to the consternation of my atheist friends.”
Of course, the “Science of Eternity” program talked about more than Michael Roll and Ron Pearson, but more than a mention of David Icke would require another blog article. We must save that topic for another conversation, a new day. I’m still trying to fathom a reason for Roll’s overt hostility to religion.
He described religious believers as “sanctimonious nitwits calling for a return to morals based on superstition”, failing to grasp the wisdom of Dale Carnegie’s instructions on how to win friends and influence people. It’s tough to remain sympathetic to someone insulting your intelligence.
Roll would have no difficulty convincing me there is a relationship between quantum theory and a spiritual world, but I categorically reject his notion that everyone ends up in the same place when we die. Were that the case, every near death experience would be a pleasant one. Unless Matthew Botsford is a liar, we simply know that isn’t true. Though he’s no Audie Murphy, Matthew claims that he literally went to hell and back.
Having held the x-ray in my hands that shows the bullet still lodged in Matthew’s head, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I believe he died, and received new knowledge while his physical body lay traumatized, in a state at or near death. And for some reason I cannot explain, he was apparently given a second chance and brought almost all the way back to a normal life, with a few permanent reminders of his experience.
I know his reprieve was only temporary. Like every other human who has ever lived, except perhaps Enoch, Matthew will once again draw in his last breath. That’s the way of this world.
Ironically, Matthew’s favorite question, which he will boldly ask of total strangers: “Where will you spend eternity?”
While I’m fairly certain that science will never be able to tell us the answers, I’m not opposed to putting forth some effort to find out anyway.