Death or Life: Quest for a Babe
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Not all of these phenomena are directly relevant to survival and the afterlife, but some of them, if accepted as veridical, do provide such evidence: for instance, messages received through a medium, allegedly from a deceased person, that contain information to which the medium has no other access. The evaluation of this body of evidence is highly contentious. Clearly there exists both motive and opportunity for fraud and fabrication in many cases. It is questionable, though, whether a responsible inquirer can afford to dismiss out of hand all cases that seem to defy ordinary naturalistic explanation.
It counts against a sweeping dismissive approach that the phenomena have been attested as probably veridical by some highly reputable investigators, including such philosophers as William James, Henry Sidgwick, C. Broad, H. Price and John Beloff. These men had little to gain personally by their investigations; indeed in undertaking them they endangered already well-established reputations. Investigating the subject with finely-honed critical instincts, they have applied stringent tests in selecting instances they consider to be credible, and have rejected many cases they held to be fraudulent or inadequately attested.
If we are willing to give an initial hearing to this evidence, what conclusions can reasonably be reached? A conclusion that many but not all of these investigators would accept is that the evidence provides some, but not conclusive, evidence for personal survival after death Steinkamp However, the reason why the evidence is deemed inconclusive will give little comfort to many afterlife skeptics.
An example is a case in which a medium received information that apparently was known in its entirety to no living person. In order to avoid the conclusion that the information was communicated from the deceased person, the medium must be credited with clairvoyance as well as the ability to integrate information received telepathically from several different persons. Broad summarized the situation well: the possibility of extra-sensory perception weakens the direct force of the evidence for survival by making possible alternative explanations of that evidence.
But ESP strengthens the overall case by raising the antecedent probability of survival, insofar as it renders problematic the naturalistic view of the human person, which for most contemporaries constitutes the greatest obstacle to belief in survival. These are experiences of persons who were, or perceived themselves to be, close to death; indeed many such persons met the criteria for clinical death.
While in this state, they undergo remarkable experiences, often taken to be experiences of the world that awaits them after death. Returning to life, they testify to their experiences, claiming in many cases to have had their subsequent lives transformed as a result of the near-death experience.
This testimony may seem especially compelling in that a large numbers of persons report having had such experiences; b the experiences come spontaneously to those near death, they are not sought out or deliberately induced; and c normally no one stands to benefit financially from either the experiences or the reports. These experiences, furthermore, are not random in their contents. There are recurring elements that show up in many of these accounts, forming a general but far from invariable pattern. The subject may be initially disappointed or reluctant to return to the body, and as already noted many testify that the experience has been life-changing, leading to a lessened—or even a complete absence of—fear of death and other beneficial results.
These experiences are surprisingly common. A Gallup poll taken in found that eight million Americans about five percent of the adult population at that time had survived a near-death experience NDE. The experiences occur regardless of age, social class, race, or marital status.
But NDEs have been reported throughout recorded history and from all corners of the earth. As one might expect, there is a wide variety of interpretations of NDEs, from those that interpret the experiences as literally revealing a state that lies beyond death to interpretations that attempt to debunk the experiences by classifying them as mere reflections of abnormal brain states. Clearly, there is no one medical or physiological cause; the experiences occur for persons in a great variety of medical conditions. On the other hand, interpretations of NDEs as literally revelatory of the life to come, though common in the popular literature, are extremely questionable.
Carol Zaleski has shown, through her comparative studies of medieval and modern NDEs, that many features of these experiences vary in ways that correspond to cultural expectations Zaleski A striking instance of this is the minimal role played by judgment and damnation in modern NDEs; unlike the medieval cases, the modern life-review tends to be therapeutic rather than judgmental in emphasis. In view of this, Zaleski ascribes the experiences to the religious imagination, insisting that to do so enhances rather than diminishes their significance. Claims of cross-cultural invariance in modern NDEs are also questionable.
The majority of the research has been done in cultures where Christianity is the predominant religious influence, but research done in other cultures reveals significantly different patterns. One amusing difference occurs in the episodes in which it is decided that the experiencer will return to embodied life rather than remaining in the afterworld. In India, on the other hand, the person is often turned back with the information that there has been a clerical error in the paperwork, so that it was by mistake that he or she came to this point!
The causation of these experiences is problematic. Some aspects of the experience have been deliberately induced by the administration of drugs see Jansen ; this demonstrates that such phenomena can be produced by chemical alterations to the brain, but in most NDE cases no such chemical causes can be identified. Several researchers have concluded that the triggering cause of the NDE is simply the perceived nearness of death.
NDEs have also been experienced by persons who believed they were close to death but were not in fact in any life-threatening situation K. The source of the transcendental content is problematic, though the cultural variations suggest that a significant role must be assigned to cultural expectations concerning the afterlife. These are phenomena that, provided they can be verified, would indicate strongly that something is occurring that is not susceptible of an ordinary naturalistic explanation.
This might seem to be the most helpful direction to look if the aim is to arrive at an objectively compelling assessment of NDEs. If it should turn out to be possible to verify objectively certain paranormal aspects of NDEs, fully naturalistic explanations could be ruled out and the way would be open for further exploration concerning the meaning of the experiences. On the other hand, if all such evidential aspects could be fully explained in terms of ordinary natural processes, the claim of NDEs to be revelatory of anything metaphysically significant would be greatly weakened.
Evidential aspects of NDEs fall into several categories. First, there are out-of-body sensory experiences, in which patients, often while comatose, observe accurately features to which they have no access through normal sensory channels. In one case, an eight-year-old girl who nearly drowned required 45 minutes of CPR to restore her heartbeat:. In the meantime, she said that she floated out of her body and visited heaven. Additionally … she was able to totally and correctly recount the details from the time the paramedics arrived in her yard through the work performed later in the hospital emergency room.
Moreland and Habermas If ordinary channels of communication can be ruled out, the most natural conclusion would seem to be that this knowledge was obtained from the deceased person, who is somehow still alive. All of these claims concerning the evidential value of NDEs have been called into question. One of the most thorough discussions is by Keith Augustine Other Internet Resources , , who draws on work by a large number of other researchers. As noted already, there is overwhelming evidence that NDEs do not provide a literal experience of conditions in the afterlife; this is attested, among other things, by the considerable variations in these experiences in different times and different cultures.
Also relevant here is the fact that similar experiences sometimes happen to persons who mistakenly believe themselves to be in life-threatening circumstances. Apparently it is the perceived nearness to death, rather than the actual proximity of the afterworld, that triggers the experiences. These still-living persons were otherwise occupied at the time of the NDEs; they cannot have been literally present in the other-worldly realm in which they were encountered. And given that still-living persons can appear in NDEs, it becomes statistically probable that on occasion there will also be encounters with persons who have recently died but whose death was unknown to the experiencer.
Claims that NDEs occurred during periods with no brain activity are countered by the rejoinder that an EEG may not reveal all activity within the brain. Functional magnetic resonance imaging, for example, can reveal activity that is missed by an EEG. With respect to the claim of information that was learned during the NDE that was not otherwise available, various answers are possible. In some cases where the information is confirmed, we may be dealing with subsequent enhancement as a result of the repeated recital of the story.
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This need not involve deliberate deception; it is a common experience that stories often repeated tend to gain new features of interest in the telling. It would appear to be his view that the burden of proof lies almost entirely on the shoulders of those who make claims on behalf of the evidential value of NDEs. With regard to this entire body of evidence, both from parapsychology and from NDEs, we may be close to an impasse.
Those who support the evidential value of the experiences will argue that the naturalistic explanations that have been offered are not adequate, that they display excessive skepticism towards well-confirmed accounts, and are in many instances highly speculative. Those who reject the evidential value of these phenomena including some believers in the afterlife will argue that the evidence is insufficient to warrant the extraordinary claims that are made, that the naturalistic explanations work well overall, and that a full explanation of the most puzzling cases would require a detailed knowledge of the events and surrounding circumstances that in many cases is not available to us.
Further careful research on individual cases may offer some hope of progress, but it seems unlikely that the fundamental disagreements can be resolved, especially when the different viewpoints are supported by diverse worldviews. Leaving aside such empirical evidence, what general metaphysical considerations are relevant to belief in survival? We have already seen that a materialist account of persons creates some serious obstacles. As van Inwagen and others have argued, God could bring about an afterlife for persons in a way consistent with a materialist philosophy of mind.
But in the absence of God, a materialist, naturalist worldview seems not at all promising for survival. As noted earlier, mind-body dualism would offer some support for the possibility of survival but dualism by no means guarantees survival; the old arguments from the simplicity and alleged indestructibility of souls are out of favor. What often is not sufficiently appreciated, however, is the close tie between theism and belief in an afterlife.
The point is not merely that theistic religions incorporate belief in an afterlife which many persons accept because of this religious context. The tie is closer than that, and it has considerable force in both directions. Suppose, on the one hand, that the God of theism does in fact exist. According to theism, God is both all-powerful and perfectly good, and this goodness is supposed to be of a sort that is relevant to the welfare of human beings and other rational creatures, if there are any.
Indeed, this is not merely a speculative assumption; there are Biblical texts proclaiming that God is a God of love. If there is reason to believe that God loves created persons, then it is highly plausible to believe that God desires to provide creatures with the opportunity for a greater, and longer-lasting, fulfillment than is possible within the brief scope of earthly existence.
This is especially true, one would think, for those who, through no fault of their own, find their lives blighted by disease, or accident, or war, or any of the other natural or anthropogenic disasters to which we are vulnerable. And yet even those of us who enjoy relatively good and satisfying lives are conscious of far, far more that could be accomplished and enjoyed, given more time and the vigor and energy to use it well. This argument can also be reversed to telling effect.
If there is no afterlife, no realm in which the sorrows of this life can be assuaged and its injustices remedied, then it may be argued that the problem of evil becomes impossible to solve in any rationally intelligible way. Arguably, a perfectly good and all-powerful God would not make a cosmos in which all or most created persons have lives that are full of misery and then are annihilated; nor would an all-loving good God create a cosmos in which there is no opportunity for transformation beyond this life.
That is not to say, of course, that allowing for an afterlife makes the problem of evil easy for theists—that is far from being the case. For these reasons, one would be hard pressed to find very many theists as opposed to deists who do not also affirm belief in an afterlife. To be sure, Kant gives different reasons for postulating God and for postulating an afterlife, and the ends to be served by these postulations are ostensibly different.
In actuality, however, it is highly plausible that the two postulates are inseparable. We ought to postulate God, because only in this way is it possible that in the end happiness should be enjoyed by persons in proportion to their moral worthiness. Given the actual conditions of the present life, it is evident that this end can be secured, if at all, only in a future existence.
But for such continued progress to be at all likely to occur would seem to require some kind of morally benign conditions in the afterlife, and Kant implicitly assumes that such conditions will obtain. What about an argument in the opposite direction: if it is reasonable to believe in an afterlife, is it more reasonable to believe in theism?
Given the reasonability of believing in an afterlife, it would be more reasonable to believe that theism is true rather than materialistic naturalism, but the reasonability of theism would have to be weighed in the context of non-theistic philosophies and religions that include belief in an afterlife. These, and other traditions such as Jainism, involve matters that are addressed in other entries in the SEP, but we offer here a modest observation on how the evidence for a good afterlife an afterlife that is in accord with some morally sound order might lend more support for one religion or philosophy than another.
Imagine that we have good reason to believe or we possess Kantian justification for faith that the cosmos is ultimately ordered in a just and moral manner felicity and virtue will be in concord, and the wicked will not flourish indefinitely and so on. Imagine further that we can limit the most plausible accounts of such a moral order on the basis of either traditional theistic accounts of the afterlife or a system of reincarnation in which Karma is at work determining successive re-births until enlightenment—liberation. He writes,. The laws of nature, we might say, are no respecters of persons—or of morality.
Rather, they are impersonal in character, and in many cases are expressible in mathematical formulae that are far removed from the teleology that permeates human existence. It is wholly implausible that two diverse systems of cosmic order such as this should arise from unrelated sources and come together accidentally; they must, then, have a common source. If the common source of the natural order and the karmic order is impersonal, we are still in need of some account of how and why it would be such as to produce these two quite different sorts of order in the cosmos.
These questions, it would seem, are much more readily answered if we postulate a personal source of both the natural and the moral order—that is to say, a God who desired that there be created persons, and who wished to provide a stable natural order within which they could live and exercise their varied powers. This is of course a mere sketch of an argument that would require much more space for its full development.
We offer the above line of reasoning as an example of how one might compare the merits of alternative accounts of an afterlife. To see further how philosophical reflection on an afterlife might be guided by metaphysical considerations, consider briefly what has been called the argument from desire. Without question, many persons strongly desire that there should be an afterlife and believe in one largely if not entirely for that reason.
It is also beyond question that most philosophers would regard this as a classic case of wishful thinking. But this conclusion is too hasty; indeed, it commits the fallacy of begging the question. To be sure, if the universe is naturalistic, then the desire that many persons have for an afterlife does not constitute any kind of evidence that an afterlife exists. One might inquire about the causes of such a desire and, given its widespread occurrence, might wonder about its possible Darwinian survival value.
But no evidential weight would attach to the desire on the assumption of naturalism. Suppose, on the other hand, that theism or some view close to theism is true. On this supposition, human life is not the accidental product of mindless forces that have operated with no thought to it or to anything else.
On the contrary, human life and the life of other rational creatures, if there are any is the product of an evolutionary process, which was itself designed to produce such beings, by a God who loves them and cares for them. If this is so, then there is a strong case to be made that desires which are universal, or near-universal, among human beings are desires for which satisfaction is possible. But the presumption must be that desires that are widespread or universal are aimed at some genuine and attainable good, however inadequate the conceptions of that good held by many individuals may be.
And if this is so, persons who take the desire for an afterlife as a reason to believe in one are on the side of right reason in doing so. Only if one assumes from the outset that the universe is not human-friendly can the charge of wishful thinking be sustained. In a recent contribution, Johan Eddebo argues that because we do not know that we are not in a human-friendly universe we cannot rationally rule out the possibility of an afterlife for human persons.
A great many persons who believe in life after death do so because of reasons that are internal to their own religious traditions. Never stop believing.
Never stop fighting. It takes just one star to pierce a universe of darkness. Never never never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine. Laugh a lot. Be good to others. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again.
Fail better. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. All things are working for your good. Life throws all sorts of challenges our way. Many times we give up just as we are on the verge of success. When you feel like surrendering, remember that the good things in life take time and sacrifice. She took off after he was hit. Paramedics took care of Frankie, who told them he was attacked by Isaac. Hank: Our victim.
Nick: So Frankie killed Isaac? Wu: Nope. According to Frankie, Isaac was killed by a guy wearing a weird-looking animal outfit. I didn't press him. I leave the pressing to you. Hank: Where's the girlfriend now? Wu: At home. She was too scared to stick around. She made the call from a burger joint down the street. Hank: Well, let's talk to Frankie. Wu: Inside. Hank: Thank you. Frankie: Yeah. Hank: I'm Detective Griffin. This is Detective Burkhardt.
You want to tell us what happened? Frankie: Yeah, I do. I was leaving with Luis and Lola. Luis goes to get the car. Me and Lola are just getting in. Then some guy sucker-punches me. I go down. When I look up, he's got a freaking sword about to cut my head off. Hank: Had you ever seen him before? Frankie: No, and just when I thought I was dead, he gets taken out by some guy wearing some kind of animal costume. Hank: What did you do then? Frankie: You kidding me? I hid under the car. The guy was tearing him to pieces. Nick: How long did you stay there? Frankie: Till the cops came.
I'm not stupid. It was like a nightmare. I mean, I never seen anything like this before. I don't know what was going on, but whoever killed that son of a bitch, he saved my life. Hank: The guy in the animal costume? Frankie: Yeah, him. I owe him big-time. Hank: Isaac Proctor was arrested five years ago for aggravated assaults and some misdemeanors too. Nick: Frankie's no choir boy either. Hank: What is the connection between Isaac and Frankie?
Nick: There's none that I can see. Hank: Hey, what about the bodyguard? Nick: Well, he's got a rap sheet, but he was unconscious at the time Isaac was killed.
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Plus, it would've been self-defense either way. Hank: All right, so why was Isaac trying to kill Frankie? Nick: Frankie must've done something to Isaac. Maybe Isaac's mother would know. Hank: A criminal defense attorney probably knows what the problem is. Nick: Yeah, I think the Captain knows her. Hank: Well, let's run it past him. Nick: If Frankie's telling the truth, someone else was there when Isaac knocked him down, and that person took out Isaac. Renard: Frankie described this mystery man as wearing an animal outfit.
Hank: We're assuming that guy was Wesen.
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Renard: Isaac Proctor is too. I know his mother, Amanda. She's a good lawyer but keeps bad company. They're Weten Ogen. Not my favorite. Nick: So Isaac is Wesen. Whoever killed him is Wesen. What about Frankie? Renard: I don't know. Have you told Amanda Proctor yet? Nick: We wanted to do background first. I should go with you on this one. Adalind: You know, Kelly, you're not an only child. Her name's Diana. I hope we can all be together someday. I haven't seen her in a really long time. Rosalee: Just checking in. How's Kelly? Adalind: Oh, he's good Rosalee: I put together a few things for you and the little guy.
I can come by and drop them off if you're not busy. Adalind: Oh, no, no, no. We should come to you. Rosalee: Are you sure? Adalind: Yeah. I think I'm getting a little fortress fever. Rosalee: Okay. I'm just here at the shop. Adalind: Okay, we are on our way. Troyer: Isaac was a good boy. He believed in the tradition, and he will be mourned, but his mistake is your opportunity. Now, I don't know which one of you did it, but if I were you, I would not turn my back on the other. Eli, it's your turn now, but Frankie Adkins knows someone is trying to kill him, and it's going to make it that much harder on you.
Good luck. But first we drink to Isaac, a brave and noble Weten Ogen. Eli and Amos: To a brave and noble Weten Ogen. Troyer: Who should've watched his back. Eli: Emily. Emily: You don't have to do this. This tradition isn't worth it.
Eli: Maybe not, but you are. Emily: Isaac was killed. Eli: What happened to Isaac's not gonna happen to me. I've got a way in. Emily: How can you be sure unless you killed Isaac? Eli: I didn't kill Isaac, but I knew he wouldn't be able to kill Frankie. If Amos gets in my way, I will kill him. Emily: Please don't do this. Don't go back to the club. Eli: I'm not gonna make the same mistake as Isaac. Emily: He'll have more bodyguards. Eli: Shh. Don't worry, babe. This is our time. You and me, we're gonna bring two great families together, and you and me are gonna make a big family.
Lots of kids.
You just worry about how to raise them, okay? I'll see you later.
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Renard: Do you have any idea why your son would try to kill Frankie Adkins? Amanda: No. As far as I know, he didn't even know him. Nick: We know Isaac had a record. Amanda: I know my son had problems, but I just can't believe that he'd do what you're suggesting. Hank: Did Isaac associate with anyone who might've had it out for Frankie? Amanda: My son's the one who's dead. Shouldn't you be asking who killed him? Renard: Amanda, if you want us to find the person responsible for your son's death, then you need to talk to us.
Amanda: How do you know Frankie didn't kill my son? Frankie has a record too. Nick: We know Frankie isn't Wesen. Amanda: What? Renard: Detective Burkhardt is a Grimm. Amanda: And you brought him into my office? Renard: He knows that Isaac was Wesen. Nick: I'm trying to figure out who killed your son. Amanda: [She retracts] You know, I knew you had one working for you. I just hoped that I'd never have to see him. Hank: We think whoever killed your son might also be Wesen.
Renard: Do you know where your son was before he went to Frankie's club? Amanda: He was invited to Daniel Troyer's house-I would assume for dinner. Nick: Is Daniel Troyer Wesen? Amanda: Weten Ogen, like me. Renard: He's been in Portland for quite a while. I know he was investigated by the FBI.
He has some connections to a few crime families on the east coast. Hank: Well, Isaac tried to kill Frankie the same night he was at Troyer's house. Nick: Maybe Frankie's connected to Troyer. Renard: Push Troyer. See what you get. Rosalee: Electric bill, telephone bill, advertising. Oh, we won a million dollars. Monroe: All right, I got to get to this repair. I'm gonna be late.
It should only take about an hour. What is that? Rosalee: I'm not sure. It's from a guy I used to know a long time ago in Seattle. Monroe: You want to open it? Monroe: You want me to open it? Maybe I shouldn't hear this. Rosalee: There's nothing you shouldn't hear.
Just want to let you know that Carlos died. You can guess of what. He was a cool guy, and I'm going to miss him. Don't know what your feeling is about him these days, but he meant a lot to you at one time. I still remember that song he wrote for you. Rosalee: I don't want to read any more of that. Those were not good guys, and that song was terrible.
I'd rather just forget that entire part of my life. Monroe: Me too. Not your life. I mean that part of mine. In fact, everything before I met you. Hank: Before we talk to Troyer, are you gonna play the Wesen card? Nick: Not unless I have to. Hank: Once he knows we know, we might not be able to get anything out of him. Might not get anything out of him anyway.
This is Detective Griffin. We're looking for Daniel Troyer. Emily: I'm his daughter, Emily. He's in the backyard. Can you tell me what this is about? Hank: We'd prefer to talk to your father. Emily: Of course. I'll take you to him. Get the name. Emily: Dad, this is Detective Burkhardt and Griffin. They need to talk to you. Troyer: I've got to go. Hank: Do you know Isaac Proctor? Troyer: Yes, I heard what happened to him. It's very sad. I assume you're investigating it. Nick: We would like to talk to you about your relationship with Isaac.
Troyer: I've known Isaac since he was a kid. His mother has handled some legal problems for me. Isaac and Emily used to play together. Hank: When was the last time you saw him? Troyer: Last night. Emily: He was here with us. Nick: For what reason? Emily: He came to see me. Hank: What was your relationship with him? Emily: He was a friend. Like my dad said, we'd known each other since we were kids. Troyer: Look, this is very difficult for her. Does she have to be a part of this?
Nick: You knew the victim. Might be a help to us. Emily: I'm okay. Nick: Do you know Frankie Adkins? Troyer: Frankie Adkins? I don't know. Should I? Hank: According to Mr. Adkins, Isaac tried to kill him last night. Troyer: What? I don't believe it. Why would he do that?
Hank: Do you know if Isaac knew Frankie Adkins? Troyer: No, I don't. Hank: Do you? Emily: No, I'm sorry. Nick: What time did Isaac leave last night? Emily: Around , I think. Nick: And has anyone threatened him in any way? Emily: Not that he ever told me about. Hank: Did both of you stay home after Isaac left? Troyer: Yes. Hank: Was anyone else here besides the three of you? Emily: No. It was just Isaac and us. Nick: This is all connected somehow. Hank: Yeah.