GLIMPSES OF THE AFTERLIFE
The truth is out there
Glimpses of the afterlife
Seek and enjoy them
NOTE: Some people find these glimpses in music, art, nature, etc. Some people listen to Miles Davis and realize that God exists.
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R.L. Stine has written many, many scary books for kids in his Goosebumps and Fear Street series of horror novels. So what scares him? Actually, jumping into a swimming pool scares him. When he was a kid attending summer camp, he was placed in the beginners’ swimming group, which was called the Tadpoles. To move up into the next higher group, the Turtles, a Tadpole had to jump into the swimming pool, then swim the length of the pool and back. When it was his turn to jump into the pool, he couldn’t do it. Swimming back and forth in the pool was no problem, but jumping into the pool horrified him. He walked away as the other Tadpoles laughed at him. Today he says, “My … nephews think it’s very funny. They’re always teasing me and trying to get me to jump. They think it’s funny that a horror writer is afraid to jump into a swimming pool.”
Leslie Goldman, the author of Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth About Women, Body Image, and Re-Imagining the “Perfect” Body, once had the interesting experience of receiving this email: “Jim O’Connor is writing a book about unattractive people who have faced the world and found happiness, a good job, and love. Can he interview you?” In fact, the email was so interesting that Ms. Goldman writes that when she read it she snorted “Jelly Bellies out of my nose.” Another interesting experience came when she was a student. She came across a hippie who was stopping people and asking them, “Are you interested in becoming a writer or poet?” She swept on past him, and he yelled after her, “BEAUTY FADES! BUT YOUR WORDS WILL LIVE ON FOREVER!”
Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, attended Sandhurst military academy. The Duke of Cambridge, who was Queen Victoria’s commander in chief, had visited Sandhurst when many of the officer-cadets were contracting venereal diseases and told them, “I understand that some of you young gentlemen have been putting yours where I wouldn’t put my walking stick.” Ian disregarded this advice, if he was ever aware of it, and quickly got gonorrhea. That, of course, is not the only mistake Ian ever made. After Ian published On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, his friend, Patrick Leigh Fermor, reminded him that Pol Roger is never sold in half bottles—and it is the only champagne that is not sold that way.
Chris Martin of Coldplay occasionally tries to cook, but maybe he shouldn’t. Once he tried to cook fish and peas, but he forgot to turn on the vent. His fire alarm went off, and since it is connected to the fire station, a fire engine quickly arrived. He was forced to tell the firefighters, “I’m sorry. There’s no fire.” A couple of months later, he again tried to cook, and again he forgot to turn on the vent. Again, the fire engine arrived, and again, Mr. Martin said, “I’m sorry. There’s no fire.” He was shaken, and decided to get out of his home for a while. The fire engine happened to be going in his direction, so the firefighters asked, “Do you want a lift?” Mr. Martin says, “I got to have a ride in a fire engine. How cool is that?”
Jack Lemmon worked in the early days of live television, with its consequent mishaps. In one show, he and another actor were playing detectives, and the other actor was supposed to get shot, by not by Jack, who was supposed to shoot the bad guy. Unfortunately, Jack shot his blank gun right into his fellow detective’s rear end. The “detective” shouted a string of profanity that ended up in ordinary Americans’ living rooms. On another show, Jack was playing a surgeon. In one scene, he was supposed to ask for a hypodermic needle, but instead asked for a hypodeemic needle. This made the other actors laugh, including the actor who was supposed to be playing a heavily sedated patient.
The Beastie Boys’ second album, Paul’s Boutique, contained a song titled “Egg Man.” The song came from a leisure activity they and their friends engaged in. They would throw eggs at people from their 9thfloor rooms at the Mondrian Hotel. Of course, people complained, and the hotel managers send them a very diplomatic note: “We’ve had some reports of things falling out of your window. If there’s a problem with your window, please let us know.” The Beastie Boys and their friends stopped throwing eggs at people from the windows of the Mondrian Hotel; instead, they drove around in cars and threw eggs at people.
Artists Otto and Gertrud Natzler, a husband-and-wife team, worked in ceramics, and they lived in a part of California in which earthquakes were frequent—perhaps not a good idea. During one earthquake, the lights went out, but they could hear crashes coming from a closet in which they had stored many of their ceramic pieces. Of course, falling ceramic pieces were making the crashes. Gertrud listened to the crashes, and then she said to her husband, “Here goes our life’s work.” Fortunately, only a few works of art of art were totally destroyed. Many were unscathed, and others could be repaired.
During World War II, a group of Army nurses served in a makeshift hospital near the Algerian port town of Arzew. They were inexperienced at war, and since their hospital did not have a cross to mark it as a noncombat zone and protect it, they decided to make a cross out of 60 white sheets. Unfortunately, after they had finished making the white cross, they discovered that a red cross marked a noncombat zone. A white cross marked an airfield—definitely a target that the enemy would like to bomb.
Actor John Leguizamo grew up in Queens on Denman Street—by the elevated No. 7 train. This made watching mysteries on TV difficult. Mr. Leguizamo says, “As soon as they were about to reveal the killer, you’d hear, ‘And the murderer is …’”—and the train would go by and drown out the sound. He says, however, that he and his family grew skilled at reading lips.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The design argument is very old — it goes all the way back to Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). However, A. C. Ewing has a modern version of it in his book The Fundamental Questions of Philosophy(1951).
Another name for the design argument is the teleological (refers to ends or purposes) argument. The design argument is based on adaptation — the adaptation of animals in order to survive (that is, adaptation for an end or purpose). For example, a polar bear needs a thick coat of fur to survive in its icy climate, and it has a thick coat of fur.
A modern person who used the design argument is William Paley (1743-1805), who believed that the design argument was based on an analogy. In Paley’s formulation of the design argument, he asks you to imagine that you have discovered a watch lying on the ground. Since the watch is a complex machine — too complex to have been created by accident — you, of course, realize that a watchmaker had to make the watch. According to Paley, the watch implies a watchmaker. Analogously, the World — which is too complex to have been created by accident — implies a Worldmaker.
A. C. Ewing
A modern philosopher who defends the design argument — and who denies that it is based on an analogy — is A. C. Ewing. According to Ewing, there is much design in nature, and the fact of this design must be explained. For example, a lower animal loses a leg or a tail, and then it grows a new leg or a new tail. And, of course, we need eyes to see, and we have eyes. Eyes are very complex organs. Ewing writes, “The force of the [design] argument lies not in the analogy, but in the extraordinary intricacy with which the details of a living body are adapted to serve its own interests, an intricacy far too great to be regarded as mere chance.”
According to the Principle of Sufficient Reason, there is an explanation or cause for this design that is abundantly found in Nature. According to Ewing, the best explanation for this design is God.
Of course, another explanation for design may have occurred to many of the people reading this essay. That explanation is evolution. Certainly, all well-educated, rational people must regard evolution as a fact. However, we can ask whether evolution rules out the existence of God.
According to Ewing, it does not. A theist can believe in both evolution and God, because God may be using evolution to accomplish His ends. Ewing writes, “Evolution [is] just the way God’s design works out.” After all, for evolution to get started, a one-celled organism had to exist, and even a one-celled organism is so complex that it is unreasonable to suppose that it came into existence by accident. In addition, according to the Principle of Sufficient Reason, there must be an explanation for why evolution exists; according to Ewing, God is the best explanation for the existence of evolution. A strength of Ewing’s argument is that it recognizes the existence of evolution — evolution is a fact.
Some people might suppose that an “unconscious purpose” of the universe brought design into existence; however, Ewing argues that “unconscious purpose” is an oxymoron. If something has a purpose, that purpose must be conscious.
An argument that could be raised against the design argument is the fact of much disorder in the universe; after all, the existence of evil is as much a fact as is the existence of evolution.
Ewing first replies that the Problem of Evil is an attack against theism in general, rather than against the design argument in particular, then he makes two further remarks:
1) He asks, Is there really much waste in Nature? For example, someone may point out that of the thousands of eggs that a herring lays, only a few will mature into adult herrings. However, Ewing replies that the other herring eggs are not wasted. Most of them serve as food for other living creatures.
2) Ewing also writes, “The occurrence of elaborate adaptations to ends is a very much stronger argument for the presence of an intelligence than its apparent absence in a good many instances is against it.” Ewing points out that our relationship to God is much like the relationship of a dog to its human master. The dog cannot understand such activities as Ewing’s writing a book; likewise, we humans cannot understand some of the reasons God has for acting as He does.
I don’t like this last comment very much, as I am convinced by the Principle of Sufficient Reason that an explanation exists for everything. As a rational human being, I want answers — I don’t want to sit back and say, “Evil is a mystery. We’ll never be able to understand the presence of evil in the world.” However, because we are limited, finite human beings, we may never arrive at the answers to our questions.
One thing to notice about Ewing’s essay is that the design argument still has much life in it. Some people may want to say that God does not exist; however, many arguments for the existence of God are worth considering.
Note: The quotations by A. C. Ewing that appear in this essay are from his The Fundamental Questions of Philosophy(London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951).
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
Free eBooks, Including Philosophy eBooks,by David Bruce (pdfs)
The tao that can be described
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be spoken
is not the eternal Name.
The nameless is the boundary of Heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of creation.
Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery.
By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real.
Yet mystery and reality
emerge from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness born from darkness.
The beginning of all understanding.
Tao Te Ching
A translation for the public domain by j.h.mcdonald, 1996
It happened that a Dog had got a piece of meat and was carrying it home in his mouth to eat it in peace. Now on his way home he had to cross a plank lying across a running brook. As he crossed, he looked down and saw his own shadow re- ected in the water beneath. inking it was another dog with another piece of meat, he made up his mind to have that also. So he made a snap at the shadow in the water, but as he opened his mouth the piece of meat fell out, dropped into the water and was never seen more.
Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.
Walking through trees to cool my heat and pain,
I know that David’s with me here again.
All that is simple, happy, strong, he is.
Caressingly I stroke
Rough bark of the friendly oak.
A brook goes bubbling by: the voice is his.
Turf burns with pleasant smoke;
I laugh at chaffinch and at primroses.
All that is simple, happy, strong, he is.
Over the whole wood in a little while
Breaks his slow smile.
you wore the big belt and carried your medals through the vigorous years of my life so I made you my champion adopted you for my own smart-ass demigod colliding with culture and crashing convention and I hung up your face on those troubling times there you stood in all of your prizefighting finery […]