Tucker's research on reincarnation.

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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby Malcolm » Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:22 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Now, the "variety of the world arises from the actions of living beings" is similar to saying "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection". Beings in Buddhist philosophy generate karma as a result of willed action in varying degrees and types, which is saying that their variety is a result of intelligent causes, not strictly natural selection and mutations.


Its not similar at all.

Intelligence is accounted for in natural selection.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby dharmagoat » Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:39 pm

Arjan Dirkse wrote:I'm open to anything - but hey - kids have a lot of imagination. My nephew thinks he is a dinosaur sometimes.

Stuff like this is easy to falsify - just get a large list of deatils about the life of the previously deceased who is reincarnated that should normally be unknown to anyone but the deceased and that cannot be guessed or found out by parents with a quick google search, like their bank code, social security number, blood type etc., and let the kids guess. The fact that wikipedia doesn't treat reincarnation as scientific fact yet tells me pretty much how this type of research usually ends.

I would think that any verifiable claim of reincarnation/rebirth (if there are any) can be explained instead in terms of clairvoyance. As far as metaphysical explanations for "past life" experiences go, that seems to be the simpler one.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby AnShen » Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:51 pm

jeeprs wrote:well, that's OK, there's no obligation to do that.

But perhaps you might explain what Carl Sagan said about Ian Stevenson, if in fact he did say something?


From an obituary of Dr. Stevenson:

But in 1996, no less a luminary than astronomer Carl Sagan, a founding member of a group that set out to debunk unscientific claims, wrote in his book, "The Demon-Haunted World": "There are three claims in the [parapsychology] field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study," the third of which was "that young children sometimes report details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation."
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby jeeprs » Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:01 am

Thanks! That's interesting.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby AnShen » Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:01 am

Malcolm wrote:
Indrajala wrote:
Now, the "variety of the world arises from the actions of living beings" is similar to saying "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection". Beings in Buddhist philosophy generate karma as a result of willed action in varying degrees and types, which is saying that their variety is a result of intelligent causes, not strictly natural selection and mutations.


Its not similar at all.

Intelligence is accounted for in natural selection.


I'm reminded of a quote from the late Robert Anton Wilson on this subject:

I also suspect that this world shows signs of intelligent design, and I suspect that such intelligence acts via feedback from all parts to all parts and without centralized sovereignity, like Internet; and that it does not function hierarchically, in the style of an Oriental despotism, an American corporation or Christian theology.

I somewhat suspect that Theism and Atheism both fail to account for such decentralized intelligencce, rich in circular-causal feedback.


This would seem to be similar to a "panpsychic" interpretation of intelligent design mentioned by Ven. Indrajala, where the intelligence in question would be a decentralized, nonlocal property and driving force of the entire evolving system rather than being an attribute of the Designer, who presumably stands apart from and outside of that which is designed.

My understanding of current evolutionary theory is that intelligence is seen as a by-product of evolutionary forces, not an evolutionary force in its own right or a factor that feeds back into evolution.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby jeeprs » Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:07 am

I think you're correct in saying that.

I have become sceptical (shock! horror!) about the claims of evolutionary biologists that the emergence of self-aware intelligent beings can be explained solely in terms of the struggle for survival and so on. I think that there must be in some sense a latent 'urge to experience' which is involved in the development of such beings.

But then, consider this interesting quote from Julian Huxley (descendant of 'Darwin's Bulldog', Thomas Huxley)

As a result of a thousand million years of evolution, the universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to understand something of its past history and its possible future. This cosmic self-awareness is being realized in one tiny fragment of the universe — in a few of us human beings. Perhaps it has been realized elsewhere too, through the evolution of conscious living creatures on the planets of other stars. But on this our planet, it has never happened before.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby AnShen » Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:12 am

dharmagoat wrote:
Arjan Dirkse wrote:I'm open to anything - but hey - kids have a lot of imagination. My nephew thinks he is a dinosaur sometimes.

Stuff like this is easy to falsify - just get a large list of deatils about the life of the previously deceased who is reincarnated that should normally be unknown to anyone but the deceased and that cannot be guessed or found out by parents with a quick google search, like their bank code, social security number, blood type etc., and let the kids guess. The fact that wikipedia doesn't treat reincarnation as scientific fact yet tells me pretty much how this type of research usually ends.

I would think that any verifiable claim of reincarnation/rebirth (if there are any) can be explained instead in terms of clairvoyance. As far as metaphysical explanations for "past life" experiences go, that seems to be the simpler one.


Clairvoyance is just as unpalatable as rebirth to hardcore materialists, and would be dismissed by them in the same manner.

I'm also not sure why it would be considered simpler than rebirth. Clairvoyants generally have the ability to receive information about a variety of people and situations; the children studied by Dr. Stevenson only had memories or impressions related to a single person, often one who had died around the same time that the child was born. If the child is simply clairvoyant, why is the clairvoyance limited in this fashion, and not manifest as a more general ability?

Then there is also the case of physical evidence: Dr. Stevenson documented cases where the deceased had injuries or markings on their body that correlated with birthmarks on the child they were supposedly reborn as. I don't see how clairvoyance would account for this, either.

We can of course debate whether or not Stevenson's studies are valid or whether they prove anything (I think they are interesting but inconclusive, myself), but I don't see how clairvoyance would account for his findings. If they point to anything then it is some kind of rebirth or reincarnation.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby futerko » Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:29 am

AnShen wrote:Clairvoyance is just as unpalatable as rebirth to hardcore materialists, and would be dismissed by them in the same manner.


I knew they'd say that. ;)
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby AnShen » Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:54 am

jeeprs wrote:I think you're correct in saying that.

I have become sceptical (shock! horror!) about the claims of evolutionary biologists that the emergence of self-aware intelligent beings can be explained solely in terms of the struggle for survival and so on. I think that there must be in some sense a latent 'urge to experience' which is involved in the development of such beings.


Thanks. I think evolutionary theory is broadly correct, but most explanations for consciousness and intelligence strike me as being far too reductionist. Here as elsewhere in the sciences, there is a lot of question-begging when it comes to consciousness...

jeeprs wrote:But then, consider this interesting quote from Julian Huxley (descendant of 'Darwin's Bulldog', Thomas Huxley)

As a result of a thousand million years of evolution, the universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to understand something of its past history and its possible future. This cosmic self-awareness is being realized in one tiny fragment of the universe — in a few of us human beings. Perhaps it has been realized elsewhere too, through the evolution of conscious living creatures on the planets of other stars. But on this our planet, it has never happened before.


That's a fascinating quote. There seems to have been a markedly mystical streak in the Huxley family (most pronounced in Aldous, of course)!

The idea that human beings and human beings alone possess the capacity for consciousness strikes me as an enormous assumption, however. If the universe contemplates itself through/as us, why should it not also contemplate itself through its other configurations: sperm whales and horned toads, daffodils and shepherd's purse and granite and super novae?
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby jeeprs » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:07 am

T H Huxley mentioned Buddhism in his 'Evolution and Ethics':

With just insight into human nature, Gautama declared extreme ascetic practices to be useless and indeed harmful. The appetites and the passions are not to be abolished by mere mortification of the body; they must, in addition, be attacked on their own ground and conquered by steady cultivation of the mental habits which oppose them; by universal benevolence; by the return of good for evil; by humility; by abstinence from evil thought; in short, by total renunciation of that self-assertion which is the essence of the cosmic process.

Doubtless, it is to these ethical qualities that Buddhism owes its marvelous success. A system which knows no God in the western sense; which denies a soul to man; which counts the belief in immortality a blunder and the hope of it a sin; which refuses any efficacy to prayer and sacrifice; which bids men look to nothing but their own efforts for salvation; which, in its original purity, knew nothing of vows of obedience, abhorred intolerance, and never sought the aid of the secular arm; yet spread over a considerable moiety of the Old World with marvelous rapidity, and is still, with whatever base admixture of foreign superstitions, the dominant creed of a large fraction of mankind.


Regarding the status of humans in Buddhism, I seem to recall that there is a canonical basis for the notion that only in human form, can a being be finally released - although I can't remember the exact location....
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby AnShen » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:25 am

jeeprs wrote:T H Huxley mentioned Buddhism in his 'Evolution and Ethics':


Interesting. So many 19th and early to mid 20th century scientists seemed enamored of Buddhism, at least insofar as it agreed with various Enlightenment principles. I notice that he doesn't praise the doctrine of rebirth!

jeeprs wrote:Regarding the status of humans in Buddhism, I seem to recall that there is a canonical basis for the notion that only in human form, can a being be finally released - although I can't remember the exact location....


I found a few references to this in the Pali Canon: the Khana Sutta (SN 35.135) on the opportunity of human rebirth and Chiggala Sutta (SN 56.48). I've heard similar statements from Chinese (Chan) Buddhists that only in the human realm is liberation possible.

Even if that's true though, it doesn't preclude consciousness being present in other entities - the idea of different 'realms' suggests that there are many types of consciousness, including that of animals, devas, ghosts, etc. I think this is probably why Buddhism has gotten on so well with different varieties of animism.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby Sherab » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:09 am

AnShen wrote:I'm reminded of a quote from the late Robert Anton Wilson on this subject:

I also suspect that this world shows signs of intelligent design, and I suspect that such intelligence acts via feedback from all parts to all parts and without centralized sovereignity, like Internet; and that it does not function hierarchically, in the style of an Oriental despotism, an American corporation or Christian theology.

I somewhat suspect that Theism and Atheism both fail to account for such decentralized intelligencce, rich in circular-causal feedback.


This would seem to be similar to a "panpsychic" interpretation of intelligent design mentioned by Ven. Indrajala, where the intelligence in question would be a decentralized, nonlocal property and driving force of the entire evolving system rather than being an attribute of the Designer, who presumably stands apart from and outside of that which is designed.

I would find the "panpsychic" interpretation more acceptable if it suggests consciousnesses lacking in intelligence that is the driving force. Rephrasing it in Buddhist terms, it is the lack of wisdom (ignorance) that is the driving force.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby AnShen » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:15 am

Sherab wrote:I would find the "panpsychic" interpretation more acceptable if it suggests consciousnesses lacking in intelligence that is the driving force. Rephrasing it in Buddhist terms, it is the lack of wisdom (ignorance) that is the driving force.


I don't think intelligence and wisdom are the same thing. One way of seeing the tragedy of our species right now is in terms of intelligence without wisdom.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby Sherab » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:24 am

AnShen wrote:
Sherab wrote:I would find the "panpsychic" interpretation more acceptable if it suggests consciousnesses lacking in intelligence that is the driving force. Rephrasing it in Buddhist terms, it is the lack of wisdom (ignorance) that is the driving force.


I don't think intelligence and wisdom are the same thing. One way of seeing the tragedy of our species right now is in terms of intelligence without wisdom.

If you wish to use the word intelligence, then I am fine with the proposition that consciousnesses lacking in intelligence is the driving force of creation. That would kind of fit in nicely with the suggestion of multi-universes with different fundamental constants. It would also fit in with redundancies of design and the presence of less than perfect designs.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby AJungianIdeal » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:29 am

jeeprs wrote:Thanks! That's interesting.

Hmm. That's even more than I was claiming. I just had a wiki-fact. " Carl Sagan referred to examples apparently from Stevenson's investigations in his book The Demon-Haunted World as an example of carefully collected empirical data, though he rejected reincarnation as a parsimonious explanation for the stories" I'm an odd skeptic who is also skeptical of skeptic organizations.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Dec 05, 2013 3:15 am

AnShen wrote:Clairvoyance is just as unpalatable as rebirth to hardcore materialists, and would be dismissed by them in the same manner.

Yes, of course. But no-one here is trying to please them.

AnShen wrote:I'm also not sure why it would be considered simpler than rebirth. Clairvoyants generally have the ability to receive information about a variety of people and situations; the children studied by Dr. Stevenson only had memories or impressions related to a single person, often one who had died around the same time that the child was born. If the child is simply clairvoyant, why is the clairvoyance limited in this fashion, and not manifest as a more general ability?

I see no reason to make the assumption that clairvoyance cannot be specific. Also, the child could be picking up on the memories of a living person who knew the deceased.

AnShen wrote:Then there is also the case of physical evidence: Dr. Stevenson documented cases where the deceased had injuries or markings on their body that correlated with birthmarks on the child they were supposedly reborn as. I don't see how clairvoyance would account for this, either.

The observation of birthmarks can be easily misinterpreted. They are like bodily Rorschach tests, are they not?

AnShen wrote:We can of course debate whether or not Stevenson's studies are valid or whether they prove anything (I think they are interesting but inconclusive, myself), but I don't see how clairvoyance would account for his findings. If they point to anything then it is some kind of rebirth or reincarnation.

I agree that they prove nothing. Whether or not they point to rebirth being a real phenomenon is completely open to interpretation. Even if the findings were conclusive, we still only see what we want to see.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Dec 05, 2013 3:52 am

AnShen wrote:
jeeprs wrote:Regarding the status of humans in Buddhism, I seem to recall that there is a canonical basis for the notion that only in human form, can a being be finally released - although I can't remember the exact location....


I found a few references to this in the Pali Canon: the Khana Sutta (SN 35.135) on the opportunity of human rebirth and Chiggala Sutta (SN 56.48). I've heard similar statements from Chinese (Chan) Buddhists that only in the human realm is liberation possible.


No, the human realm is probably the most conducive, but not the only realm that nirvana can be realized. Non-returners gain their final release from the Pure Realms as long-lived Brahmas.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby dude » Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:05 am

pueraeternus wrote:
AnShen wrote:
jeeprs wrote:Regarding the status of humans in Buddhism, I seem to recall that there is a canonical basis for the notion that only in human form, can a being be finally released - although I can't remember the exact location....


I found a few references to this in the Pali Canon: the Khana Sutta (SN 35.135) on the opportunity of human rebirth and Chiggala Sutta (SN 56.48). I've heard similar statements from Chinese (Chan) Buddhists that only in the human realm is liberation possible.


No, the human realm is probably the most conducive, but not the only realm that nirvana can be realized. Non-returners gain their final release from the Pure Realms as long-lived Brahmas.


In what sutra is that stated?
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:56 am

As a result of a thousand million years of evolution, the universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to understand something of its past history and its possible future. This cosmic self-awareness is being realized in one tiny fragment of the universe — in a few of us human beings. Perhaps it has been realized elsewhere too, through the evolution of conscious living creatures on the planets of other stars. But on this our planet, it has never happened before.

Just like Columbus was the first person to set foot in America. Right!

Human beings will constantly assert themselves as being something special, especially if there is no-one around to disagree.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:02 am

dharmagoat wrote:
As a result of a thousand million years of evolution, the universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to understand something of its past history and its possible future. This cosmic self-awareness is being realized in one tiny fragment of the universe — in a few of us human beings. Perhaps it has been realized elsewhere too, through the evolution of conscious living creatures on the planets of other stars. But on this our planet, it has never happened before.

Just like Columbus was the first person to set foot in America. Right!

Human beings will constantly assert themselves as being something special, especially if there is no-one around to disagree.



From a polytheist perspective, the idea of humans being the only self-aware and intelligent beings is rather absurd and arrogant.

As far as the cosmic hierarchy goes, we're pretty low on the totem poll.
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