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Does Consciousness 101 Violate Church-State Separation?

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Does Consciousness 101 Violate Church-State Separation?

Posted on 05 July 2021, 8:37

Considering the insanity going on in the world today, many people believe that religion should be offered in our public schools. They claim that it will result in higher standards of morality and a more meaningful life. Those opposed argue separation of church and state and the payment of taxes for non-scientific ideas that are based on mere superstition and folly. They also point to the many wars and conflicts brought about by religion and say that morality is not related to religious beliefs. It all seems to boil down to religion vs. secularism, or theism vs. atheism.

As I see it, the issue should not involve religion, church, or even an anthropomorphic God. It should be about schools offering existential thinking – philosophy courses that explore the meaning of life and the nature of consciousness, including whether that consciousness is independent of the brain and survives bodily death. Call it Consciousness 101, Existentialism 101, or Metaphysics 1A and 1B. The subject matter would transcend religion, church, and even a humanlike deity. To put it another way, consciousness and meaning antedate religion, church, and the God of most religions, all of which grew out of the concerns people had for life’s purpose along with the nature of and survival of consciousness at the time of death; thus, there would be no Church vs. State conflict involved in such classes.

Most of the topics discussed at this blog – mediumship, near-death experiences, past-life memories, deathbed visions, and other phenomena relating to consciousness – provide evidence which science has ignored or rejected, primarily because it seemingly jumped to the conclusion that all things unseen and not subject to its methods of testing belong to religion and are therefore within the jurisdiction of the churches, when, in fact they are not. Clearly, psychical research and parapsychology are not religions or within church domain.

As a sidebar, along the same line of thinking, one might ask why a statue displaying the Ten Commandments should be under the religion and church umbrella. While my knowledge of biblical events is very limited, it is my understanding that the Ten Commandments came to Moses before he was part of any organized religion or church. Therefore, the Ten Commandments preceded church and religion, and statues depicting them in public places should not violate any laws pertaining to separation of church and state. Because religions were later organized and embraced the Ten Commandments does not give religion or the churches ownership of them or bring them within their jurisdiction.

Likewise, the teachings of Buddha, Christ, and Mohammed preceded religions, and churches were later formed around their teachings. Jesus was not turned into a God until the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Is it not possible to discuss their teachings in a public- school course dealing with consciousness and meaning without imposing religion and church upon innocent children? Weren’t the Greek philosophers, headed by Socrates and Plato, once part of classroom study independent of religion and churches?

If I am correctly viewing history, we changed from inductive to deductive reasoning in our belief system over the centuries. Early Christianity was based on phenomena that defied human logic and understanding, often referred to as miracles or marvels. It was inductive reasoning, all adding up to an unseen world of spirit and the immortality of the soul. The Creator at the helm was secondary. It was an a posteriori approach – knowable upon experiences involving an unseen world, experiences reported by credible people, sometimes involving objective signs, such as apparitions, apports, levitations, stigmata, veridical dreams and unexplainable healings. However, when science began to demand proof of those paranormal occurrences, the Church gradually changed its focus, the emphasis being on worshipping and pleasing God. The afterlife became an ancillary to a belief in God. It was an a priori proposition – knowable without experience and beyond scientific inquiry. The debunkers found such an approach easier to attack and now usually begin their diatribe with arguments that there is no “proof” of God, thereby implying that there is no “evidence” of an afterlife.

“All the progress since the revival of sciences has been in the direction of achievements for materialism,” is the way psychical researcher, psychologist and philosopher James Hyslop explained it more than a century ago. “All the facts which the mediaeval philosopher appealed to support the existence of a soul are either discarded or denied in settling the case. The progress of science has been for methods of evidence which philosophy did not use in its long domination of human thought.”

The “one life at a time” argument would no doubt be made by the nihilists in opposing consciousness studies in classrooms. It says that we should be focusing on this lifetime and not concerning ourselves with a future life, whether or not such a life exists. Therefore, its proponents ask, what is the point of discussing whether consciousness continues beyond the present lifetime? They don’t grasp the fact that the meaning and purpose given to this life by the belief in a larger life adds to the appreciation and enjoyment of the present life, especially in one’s declining years. To quote Sir Oliver Lodge, the eminent physicist of yesteryear: “It is no doubt possible, as always, to overstep the happy mean, and by absorption in and premature concerns with future interests to lose the benefit and training of this present life. But although we may rightly decide to live with full vigour in the present, and do our duty from moment to moment, yet in order to be full-flavoured and really intelligent beings – not merely with mechanical draft following the line of least resistance – we ought to be aware that there is a future, a future determined to some extent by action in the present; and it is only reasonable that we should seek to ascertain, roughly and approximately, what sort of future it is likely to be. Inquiry into survival, and into the kind of experience through which we shall all certainly have to go in a few years, is therefore eminently sane, and may be vitally significant. It may colour all our actions, and give a vivid meaning both to human history and to personal experience.”

If our children are not offered some kind of existential teaching, we leave them to be dumbed down by the nihilists and continually influenced by the entertainment and advertising industries. If they are encouraged to believe that life is nothing more than a short march toward an abyss of nothingness – that it has no real meaning or purpose beyond pursuing a materialistic lifestyle – they are motivated to make the most of each day by eating, drinking, using drugs, having casual sex, and being merry without restraint. Humanists argue that morality is not dependent on religion, and they may be right. Here again, it is a matter of getting to the basic issues of consciousness and meaning through the study of paranormal phenomena which suggest survival and concomitantly give meaning to life, but the humanists, nihilists, atheists, whatever name they prefer, seem incapable of reasoning to that extent. Then again, the churches are just as guilty.

The problem, as I see it, with introducing consciousness or metaphysical studies, independent of religion and church, to fertile young minds in public schools is that the biases of the instructors would be part of their teachings. We would likely get the same materialistic-minded teachers that we now having teaching in colleges, those who do not have a good grasp of the psychic phenomena discussed at this blog and elsewhere. In all their “wisdom,” they would preach nihilism and brainwash their students as so many are doing in college. At the same time, the spiritually minded teachers would occasionally let the G- - word slip into their talks, maybe even use “heaven” to describe the survival of consciousness, and thereby would come under attack by the nihilists for contaminating innocent young minds with “religious” ideas. The school principals would be under pressure to be politically correct and, lacking any fortitude, they would have to fire them.

“Despair over the earthly or over something earthly is really despair about the eternal and over oneself, in so far as it is despair,” Soren Kierkegaard, considered the father of existentialism, offered. This is consistent with what Carl Jung, the pioneering Swiss psychiatrist, said – that most of his patients were non-believers, those who had lost their faith. “They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success or money, and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking,” he wrote. “Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon. Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning.”

Toeing the line between consciousness studies and religion would be as difficult as walking a tightrope over an alligator pond. There would have to be an approved curriculum and strict adherence to that curriculum without the biases of the instructors creeping into the discussion. It would be next to impossible for the instructor to keep his biases to himself. Consciousness 101 seems like a good plan, but, sadly, it wouldn’t work. And so the world gets crazier every day.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books

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