There are certain questions which are important to us, and which we cannot answer through rational means. These questions surround issues such as death, God, and the purpose and meaning of life.
Religion provides us with answers to these questions, but it is difficult to believe that their answers are correct, because there is no means of verifying these answers, and they contradict each other on various points.
It is probably unreasonable to hope that science or rationality will answer these questions for us. We will probably not find out what happens after we die, whether God exists, or what the meaning of life is, either by empirical investigation or by abstract reasoning. And yet many of us feel that these questions require answers.
Religion generally bases its answers on the contents of holy texts. Such texts include the Bible, the Qu’ran, the Tao Te Ching, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Pali Canon. The different religions each claim that their texts are revealed truth inspired by contact with the divine. For religion, these holy texts form the point of reference for answering existential questions.
By assuming that these holy texts contain the truth, we obtain answers to existential questions. But it may be unreasonable to take this step, because the claims of the holy texts are unverifiable, and the texts of different cultures contradict each other.
There are, however, certain commonalities that exist between the claims of the different holy texts. To name a few simple commonalities, they generally agree in positing a great spiritual goal as the purpose of human life, and in asserting that moral uprightness and devotion to religious practice are helpful in moving towards this goal. They also generally agree that there is a reality beyond the everyday physical reality in which we live, and that there is a part of every human being which persists after death.
Let us also mention a few ways in which the different texts contradict each other. They give different explanations of the nature of the divine, and different accounts of what happens after death. Many religions assert that they are the only path to the divine, and all religions which make this assertion contradict each other.
How do we interpret the fact that these religions have these common factors, and also these differences? We have a few options at our disposal.
(H.1) Nonbelief. We believe that the claims of the holy texts are false. We then believe that the common claims are due to cross-cultural influence, coincidence, or some other combination of factors.
(H.2) Agnosticism. We suspend judgment on the truth-value of the holy texts. In this case we are led to take the claims of holy texts seriously, but not believe in any of them.
(H.3) Belief. We believe that some of the claims of holy texts are true, and some of them are false.
In the case of (H.3) we again have two options:
(H.4) Monism. We believe that the holy texts of exactly one of the religions contain the truth, and the claims of other religions are true only when they are consistent with this religion.
(H.5) Syncretism. We believe that many or most of the holy texts contain a distorted version of the truth.
I wish to ignore (H.4) as being a probably unfruitful line of inquiry. I will assume that if any of the religions are to be taken seriously, then all of them are to be taken seriously.
(H.5) deserves further explanation. It cannot be that all of the holy texts are completely true, because they contradict each other on various points. However, it can be the case that many or most of the holy texts are partially true. In this case we posit that each religion possesses pieces of the truth, and this truth is mixed in with falsehood.
If there is any truth in religion, how are we to extract it? A good starting point would be to determine what their common claims are. Claims that are almost always made, or are very frequently made, are more likely to be true. So one way to find any possible truth in religion would be to correlate their various claims and see what is common to them. I have previously made some efforts in this direction.
What we would really like would be a trustworthy text or two. If there were texts in which we felt that we could place our trust, then it would be much simpler to determine the truth. This would have to be a text which we believed to be genuinely divinely inspired, and to be sufficiently undistorted in its message that we could worry very little about its claims being false.
I wish to explore one possible candidate for such a text. This text is The Law of One, also called the Ra material.
The Ra material was the outcome of channeling experiments conducted by Carla Rueckert, Don Elkins, and Jim McCarty between 1981 and 1984. These individuals had been attempting to achieve telepathic contact with extraterrestrials, and the Ra material was one of the most dramatic results of their attempts along these lines.
The Ra material contains transcriptions of statements made by Carla Rueckert while she was in an unconscious state. These statements were answers to questions asked by Don Elkins. These statements claim that their source was “Ra,” a highly advanced spiritual entity with nearly perfect knowledge of the universe. The transcripts touch upon many different issues, making claims about the history of Earth and the nature of the universe, delving into highly esoteric metaphysical issues, and addressing most of the existential questions which religions usually address. It contains no internal contradictions, and is consistent with most of the claims of the different world religions.
There are a number of ways in which we can interpret the fact of the existence of this text:
(H.6) We believe that the Ra material does not contain revealed truth. In this case we probably believe that the Ra material’s contents were invented by Carla Rueckert’s subconscious. This corresponds to (H.1), or general nonbelief about the claims of holy texts.
(H.7) We suspend judgment on the truth value of the Ra material. In this case we take the claims of the Ra material seriously, but do not believe any of them. This includes its claims about the nature of its source. This corresponds to (H.2), or general agnosticism about the claims of holy texts.
(H.8) We believe that the Ra material is true. This corresponds to (H.3), or belief in the truth of the claims of holy texts.
The strongest argument for (H.6) is that it is the only hypothesis which is consistent with physicalism. If we believe in physicalism, then we must believe in (H.6).
If we believe in (H.7), this probably means that we lend credence to both (H.6) and (H.8). Under this perspective, (H.6) seems to be in the character of healthy skepticism, while (H.8) is in the character of the hypothesis being evaluated. This is so because (H.6) adds little to our understanding, while (H.8) makes a large quantity of positive assertions about existentially important topics.
I believe in (H.8). I also do not assert that anybody else should believe in (H.8), because my belief in (H.8) rests on certain unprovable assumptions. These assumptions are that:
(H.9) Higher intelligences exist and it is possible for humans to contact them telepathically.
(H.10) The Ra material was produced by telepathic contact with a higher intelligence.
(H.11) This intelligence did not tell any lies.
If these three hypotheses are true, this is sufficient to entail that all of the statements contained in the Ra material are true. Furthermore, if any of these hypotheses is false, then this is sufficient to entail that none of the statements of the Ra material can be trusted to be true. It is remarkable that in this case a tremendous quantity of information about topics of great significance hinges on the truth or falsity of this small number of hypotheses.
Since this is so, it seems worthwhile to examine the grounds for believing in the truth or falsity of these hypotheses.
If (H.9) is true, then it is reasonable to believe that (H.10) is true. (H.9) and (H.10) seem to stand or fall together, in that it would be unlikely for a person to believe that telepathy with higher intelligences is possible, and this did not occur to produce the Ra material.
If (H.9) and (H.10) are true, then it could still be the case that some claims in the Ra material are false if Ra was mistaken in some of his claims, or if Ra was lying in some of his claims.
(Q.1) Was Ra lying?
I have no answer to (Q.1). I believe that Ra was not lying. I also do not have any proof that Ra was not lying. I suggest that it ought to be a person’s free choice to trust or not trust any given source of information.
(Q.2) Was Ra mistaken?
This question has a clearer answer. Ra gave mistaken information only if Ra also lied. This is so because the Ra material contains the claim that Ra has perfect knowledge of almost the entire universe, including all portions of the universe about which the Ra material contains any claims (81.16-18). Therefore it cannot be the case that Ra gave mistaken information and that Ra did not tell any lies. Ra was mistaken only if Ra was also lying.
We have relegated (H.11) to a matter of trust, and established that (H.9) and (H.10) stand or fall together. We have also established that if (H.9), (H.10), and (H.11) are all true, then all of the claims of the Ra material are true, while if any of these hypotheses are false, then none of the claims of the Ra material are credible.
This reduces the “live” part of the question to:
(Q.3) Is telepathy with higher intelligences possible?
(Q.3) is merely (H.9) posed in question form. If we answer it negatively, then we learn that Carla Rueckert’s subconscious is very creative, and that it is possible for false belief systems to seem quite plausible. If we answer it positively, then we learn that it is likely that everything in the Ra material is true. As has been mentioned already, a tremendous amount of information about topics of great significance hinges on how we answer (Q.3), because of the nature of the content of the Ra material.
There is no proof for either (H.9) or ~(H.9). Therefore if we hold a belief either way, we hold a belief without proof.
(Q.4) Is it ever rational to hold a belief without proof?
If we answer (Q.4) negatively, then it is irrational to believe either (H.9) or ~(H.9), and we must accept (H.7). If we answer (Q.4) positively, then it would seem that it is rational to hold either (H.9) or ~(H.9).
It seems obviously rational to hold ~(H.9): that is, that telepathy with higher intelligences is impossible. If it is not rational to hold ~(H.9), then it is not rational to believe that telepathy does not exist, and this conclusion seems obviously absurd. This suggests that we should probably answer (Q.4) positively.
It would seem to follow that it is rational to hold (H.9). In order to conclude otherwise, we would need an argument to the effect that it is rational to hold ~(H.9), but not to hold (H.9), though there is proof either way. Such an argument may exist, but I am not aware of it.
This means, in essence, that (H.9) cannot be dismissed as crazy; it appears to be a rational position to hold.
The strongest argument against (H.9) is the fact that it is probably inconsistent with physicalism.
One argument for (H.9) is that most religions posit that something like (H.9) is true. This can be seen in the table comparing religious beliefs which I gave in a previous post. All of the world’s major religions posit the existence of “angels” and “demons,” which can be interpreted as higher intelligences. Furthermore, most of these religions contain stories of persons communicating with angels and/or demons.
I personally became convinced of (H.9) by two additional factors. The first was the profundity and consistency which the Ra material seemed to me to have. The second was a series of experiences I had of contact with “demons.”
I have had many experiences where I felt like I was being attacked by demons. When these experiences occur, I feel the presence of malevolent entities with no physical origin, and usually experience physical pain which I feel to proceed causally from the entities in question. There are two ways to explain these experiences. It may be that they are a type of hallucination. Or it may be that they are the symptoms of being attacked by objectively existing demons.
After having many such experiences, I began to enter the belief system that these demons were not figments of my imagination, but were objectively existing entities: and, more specifically, that they were fourth density negative entities as described by the Ra material. I suspect that if I did not have these experiences, I would not believe (H.9).
I later began to have what seemed to me to be experiences of contact with “angels,” which occurred only when I requested such contacts. I also made attempts at telepathy with two different human beings. In each case, both myself and the other person involved felt that these attempts were successful, though none of these attempts resulted in any definitive evidence.
I have given some grounds for the various attitudes which it is possible to hold towards the Ra material: namely, (H.6), (H.7), and (H.8). While I believe in (H.8), I do not argue that anybody else ought to believe (H.8). This is so because my belief in (H.8) rests on three unprovable assumptions: (H.9), (H.10), and (H.11).
I view my accepting of these unprovable assumptions as being similar to how one might invest money in a business. I am taking a risk, and I feel that, for me, it is a risk worthy of taking. I would not ask anybody else to take this same risk. I have given my grounds for doing so and recommend that everybody else decide for themselves.