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Archive for April 19th, 2014

Sharon Rawlette

Sharon Rawlette

I have just been reading an elegantly written exposition by Sharon Rawlette of what seems to me to be the most important issue confronting human consciousness in the so-called ‘developed’ Western world. Viewed with an open mind, experience suggests that the supernatural is natural. (But, to paraphrase John Hick, not of course so strongly as to compel belief in those who prefer not to accept that conclusion.) Below is an extract: for the full post see link.

Those who know of my intense interest in near-death experiences and past-life memories might be surprised to discover that, not so long ago, I was an atheist. Four years ago, I didn’t believe in a higher power and I didn’t believe in life after death. I had given up all those “spiritual” beliefs around age twenty, when I abandoned the Christian faith I was brought up in. Instead, I embraced the world as it appeared to be: random. I took my own experience as my guide, not scripture.

Today, I still take experience as my guide, but in the last few years, experience has led me to some places I never anticipated. Places that have caused me to rethink the totality of my worldview.

Those changes in my worldview are the subject of two book-length memoirs of mine: both the one I’ve completed and am seeking a publisher for (When to Say Adieu) and the one I am still writing (I Am Not That God). I’m not going to be able to retell those very complex stories in this post, so instead, what I want to focus on is what I see as the content of that core shift that took place in my worldview.

I have always been a very systematic thinker. My Ph.D. in philosophy is a symptom of this. I like finding patterns and developing theories. I like figuring out how the world works, and I have always preferred reading nonfiction (whether science, philosophy, or memoir) to fiction. That’s my analytical personality.

Maybe partly because of that desire to systematize, I have never understood the dichotomy set up by so many philosophers between naturalism and non-naturalism. They define a non-naturalistic worldview as one that accepts the existence of “supernatural” elements. But what, I always wondered, made something supernatural as opposed to natural? Some philosophers would say that the supernatural is anything that defies the laws of nature. But it seemed to me that, if the laws of nature can be broken, then those aren’t the real laws at all. There is some deeper law that governs the supposedly “supernatural” interventions in the world. Isn’t “nature” simply all that exists? The supernatural–if it exists–is actually natural. That seemed to me true by definition.

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