As a result, the leaders in every field will mightily resist new foundational ideas. They cling to old certainties with everything that’s in them.
I have a lot of sympathy for today’s leaders in mainstream science and mainstream Christianity. They have built good careers based in erroneous views of reality and of God respectively, but they had no part in creating those views. They received them early in life, and since the truth was not available to them they built their identities and their careers on what amounted to outright lies. They are victims, just as you and I are victims.
Unfortunately, though, in continuing to cling to old fallacious certainties, these scientific and Christian leaders are doing the world incalculable harm. They won’t look at the evidence for a greater reality, and they refuse to wonder about anything beyond the edges of whatever ideas they find comfortable. While this reluctance of theirs to disrupt their long-held assumptions is understandable, it also is the greatest obstacle that you and I face as we attempt to arrest humanity’s slide into barbarism and we struggle to build a more humane world. Let’s look at just two examples of people who are fighting the truth out of a simple fear of venturing beyond their own erroneous understandings.
In the scientific field, Susan Blackmore bills herself as a parapsychologist and a skeptic. She claims to have begun her career as a believer in the paranormal, and then to have conducted experiments that convinced her that all claims of phenomena that might suggest that consciousness can exist apart from the body were “only wishful thinking, self-deception, experimental error and, occasionally, fraud. I became a skeptic.” I remember her early career somewhat differently. In the eighties and nineties I was reading debunker literature as part of my research, and Susan Blackmore was a prominent member of that dishonorable clan. If memory serves, she spun people in a centrifuge and found that before they blacked out they might experience a narrowing of vision and spots of light that could be something like the tunnel ending in a light seen by some NDE-ers. She concluded that therefore all NDEs were the product of stressed or dying brains. She didn’t open-mindedly investigate psi phenomena. Instead, she looked for ways to explain some small aspect of each phenomenon so she could declare the whole thing to be bogus. And her claim to be a former believer whose experiments have proven psi phenomena to be false has given her a great career! At this point, questioning her own assumptions is the last thing she is prepared to do. Here is the text of an email that Susan Blackmore wrote to afterlife researcher Michael Roll on September 25, 2016, reprinted with his permission:
“Dear Michael, How many times do I have to tell you that I do not believe that Crookes and Lodge discovered evidence for life after death. I may be wrong, and I could be proved wrong, but as the evidence stands I am very far from convinced. In addition, everything I have learnt since about the nature of self and everything I have learnt from my 30 years of meditation all lead to the same conclusion – that selves are ephemeral constructions made by brains and when those brains die so does the self. So of course I am not going to try to promote Crookes’ and Lodge’s work. Also I do not think it has ever been suppressed. It is just not good enough to convince scientists and so they ignore it. If they turn out to be wrong and you are right then things will change but I personally doubt this will happen. Sorry – but that’s it as far as I am concerned. with best wishes, Sue”
Now in her sixties, she is not about to turn her skepticism toward her own beliefs!
In the Christian field we face not just erroneous beliefs that feel hallowed after having been passed down for two thousand years, but also a superstitious fear of God that is the antithesis of anything spiritual. If you attempt to point out the flaws of Christianity – they are abundantly explored in other posts on this site – then you are a heretic, un-chosen, and damned. This example is from an email sent by a prominent televangelist, abbreviated for length:
“It is ONLY faith in Jesus Christ that saves you because it was Jesus Christ who God sent to die for your sins! He was God’s perfect sacrifice to give fallen man a way back into everlasting fellowship with Him. So if you accept THAT, then you have to accept the ENTIRE BIBLE as God’s inspired, inerrant Word. It can’t be only part right! The reason is God cannot lie. The Bible is an all or nothing proposition, it is either ALL true, or NONE of it is true… Does this mean your Jewish friend who is a “good person” but never accepts Jesus is going to hell? YES! Does this mean that the family member you love but rejects Christ is going to hell? YES! Does this mean those kind people you work with that embrace Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or some other false religion are going to hell? YES!”
And Jesus weeps.
If we hope to open the minds of scientists and religionists who resist any open-minded search for the truth, we first must understand why they fight so hard to avoid considering fresh ideas. Their livelihoods, their prestige, and their very sense of self depend on keeping everything new at bay! As Max Planck said almost sixty years ago, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
A couple of generations of scientists have come and gone since Dr. Planck made that observation. Cracks in the materialist wall that mainstream scientific gatekeepers long ago erected are beginning to appear, but slowly. And where religion is concerned, the fact that attitudes like the one quoted above have emptied churches is beginning to open some minds. The process of enlightenment is agonizingly slow, but it is beginning to accelerate. As Rene Descartes said four hundred years ago, “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” His advice is more essential now than it ever was!