Eben Alexander speech (Introduction)

by dhw, Wednesday, January 02, 2019, 12:05 (458 days ago) @ David Turell

I watched the Eben Alexander lecture last night. As I have emphasized in the past, the two factors that make it impossible for me to embrace atheism are the complexities of living organisms (i.e. the case for design which you, David, present with the utmost clarity) and psychic experiences, which include NDEs. Nothing has changed in this regard.

As for the lecture, I must confess it left me rather frustrated. His rambling style irritated me to the point at which, on several occasions, I felt like shouting; “Get on with it!” Yes, we know that consciousness is the hard problem, and you and I have discussed it ourselves at enormous lengths. No, scientific materialism does not answer all our questions. Yes, you have also claimed that quantum mechanics may hold the key to “reality”. Yes, unconditional love is wonderful. But by the time he’d finished rambling and repeating himself, there was no time left to explain just what he meant by the brain being a filter for consciousness, or how he thinks quantum mechanics solves the hard problem (dropping a few famous names explains nothing), or how one can be oneself in Heaven without memory or language. He mentions several times that NDE-ers experience their lives flashing before them with a more intense reality than when they were back on Earth, but that would not be possible if in death we had no memory. He does, however, say that his NDE was unique, and did not match others he has since read about. So Heaven is presumably different for different people. Isn’t that odd? There’s a weird bit about “you can do no wrong” but “you reap what you sow” so “there’s no need for hell.” No time to explain the moral message of this. I am darting about, just as he did. The story of the dead sister is a very touching ending – though again he drags it out, presumably for dramatic effect – and at last we have a piece of information that he could not have known about beforehand. That is the only evidence we have for the authenticity of this whole experience, but fortunately there are other such instances in the history of NDEs which for me make it essential to keep an open mind on his as well.

Eben Alexander’s vision will fulfil the wishes of all those who hope for heaven. He said at the beginning that there would be time for questions. There wasn’t, but in any case I doubt if the Theosophical Society would have posed many sceptical questions. These would have been posed by the authors of websites that claim to debunk the whole story. I read some of these, and they cast doubts on his statement that the coma was caused by his meningitis (they say it was induced by Laura Potter and was not continuous, and at times he was “conscious but delirious”) and they also probe into his personal life, which involves malpractice, covering up evidence, and facing lawsuits running into millions of dollars, but he has now made a fortune from his book and from the commercial spin-offs. They clearly question his integrity, but other websites debunk the debunking (and the integrity of the debunkers), though not the tales of malpractice. I can’t possibly make any sort of judgement. I can only give you my response to the lecture itself and assure you that for all my frustration, I remain totally open-minded on the subject of psychic experiences including NDEs.

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