Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Book Review: The Body Electric

If salamanders, flatworms and stone crabs can regenerate body parts that are cut off, why can't we? A possible answer is given in The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life by Robert O. Becker, M.D. and Gary Selden. The book explores the role of electricity in the healing process, along with certain fundamentalist materialist beliefs that turn out not to be true.

For example, cell dedifferentiation is considered not to be possible in more complex animals such as ourselves. A brief explanation will be necessary for those of us who are not biologists. As embryos develop in the womb, they start off as clumps of identical cells. At some point in the process, some of the cells become bone cells, some muscle, nerves, organs, etc. This process is considered to be irreversible in mammals. Dedifferentiation is the temporary reversal of this process so that cells can be repurposed. The experiments described in this book offer strong evidence that dedifferentiation not only possible, but vital in healing bone fractures.

The authors discovered while researching regeneration in salamanders a consistent pattern of electrical charges during the healing process. By altering the electrical charges, the authors were able to slow down, stop, or even accelerate regeneration. They were even able to induce bone re-growth in rats and cartilage re-growth in rabbits. Under certain circumstances, the regeneration process in salamanders eliminated cancer as a side effect. There's also an interesting bit about piezoelectricity in bones.

This book is an important reminder that the belief that we have all the answers actually prevents us from getting all the answers. More importantly, it will give you new ideas about what we are capable of doing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book Review: Human Devolution

Science is supposed to work on the basis of developing a provisional theory which is modified or re-done as further information becomes available. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Initial hypotheses often become set in stone, and any evidence to the contrary is swept under the rug until it starts to spill out from under the edges. Need examples? Human Devolution by Michael A. Cremo has them. The book is devoted to a single important proposition: that the fundamentalist materialist view of us, the world, and how we got here is incomplete at best.

The first part of the book is an overview of evidence given in Forbidden Archeology that the timeline of man's development given by traditional evolutionists doesn't match the time periods given by archeology. Evidence of man, including fossils, has been found in deposits thought to predate humans, by millions of years in some instances. The second part of the book provides evidence against the materialist view of man as being merely "a bag of chemicals." As you might expect, this section gives plenty of examples of documented paranormal phenomena, including levitation and telekinesis. Myths from various cultures about the origins of man are also covered.

This book is a helpful, if long, antidote against fundamentalist materialism.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Book Review: The Twelve Conditions of a Miracle

Most of you are familiar with the miracle of the loaves and the fishes from the New Testament. For those who aren't, here's a simplified version: Jesus was preaching to his followers outside of town. It was getting late and no one had had dinner yet. They took a collection among the crowd and came up with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. They started to distribute what they had, and it not only turned out to be enough to feed everyone, but there were 12 baskets of leftovers.

Did this really happen? Those of you who are Christian fundamentalists will have no problem saying yes, but what about the rest of you? Do you believe in miracles? Before you answer, what is a miracle? I can think of three possible answers:
  1. Miracles are deviations from the course of nature caused by divine intervention.

  2. Miracles are deviations from the course of nature, and are therefore impossible.

  3. Miracles are apparent deviations from the course of nature, and it's rather arrogant of us to think that we know everything about how nature works.
As you can tell, I prefer the third answer. Since we don't know all the laws of nature, someone who managed to find out more about how things work might be in a position to do things that seem impossible to the rest of us. Todd Michael, author of The Twelve Conditions of a Miracle: The Miracle Worker's Handbook, has found out something. By using correct translations of the words of the original which for some reason aren't used in the conventional translations, Mr. Michael has created a pattern that can be used by us to create our own miracles.

The Course in Miracles says that miracles happen naturally, but that our fear, judgements, and hate prevent them. This is all part of the baggage I keep talking about. Mr. Michael's book doesn't really address that, but that might be because he's already gotten rid of the baggage himself. Your mileage may vary. Don't let that stop you from reading his book. Also, Mr. Michael has an interesting book about angels, and one about parables.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An Alternative Election Day Activity

I noticed recently that there are apparently some people who can't decide between Obama and McCain. My first thought was that people who really can't decide between them really shouldn't vote for either. For those people, and for anyone else who for whatever reason has decided not to participate in the election day festivities, I have an alternate activity: infecting the Matrix.

You see, a couple of years ago, I came to the conclusion that conspiracy theory was not so much wrong as irrelevant. I'm not saying that there aren't groups of rich and powerful people making plans for us. I'm saying that the driving force is actually a network of ideas and beliefs. The technical term for this network is the "noosphere", and the ideas and beliefs are referred to as "memes". I like to call the network "The Matrix", and if you've seen the movie, you may understand why. An example of a meme would be: "regulation is necessary to prevent the greedy and power-hungry from taking advantage of others." People who have the meme tend to favor government regulation, and since the greedy and power-hungry are more likely to want the regulator jobs, you can imagine the result.

So this election day, instead of voting, why not inject your own memes into the Matrix? Here are some suggestions:

  • People who are living right don't need laws.

  • What would society be like if everyone lived according to the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount?

  • What would society be like if everyone read A Course in Miracles?

  • Bring earth to heaven, and heaven to earth.

You get the idea, so try it. You'll make at least as much of a difference as you would by voting.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What is Materialism?

Dictionary.com lists the primary definition of materialism as follows:
preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.
I would like to offer for the purposes of this blog and the Materialists Anonymous Google Group the following definition:
The belief that the physical universe as we know it is the most important (or only) thing there is.
Why this definition? Because it also covers religious materialists of the type who think that what you put in your mouth or what you do with certain body parts is more important that what you put in your mind and heart. It also covers the belief that the physical universe is not all there is, but that we don't have any access to or contact with anywhere else until after death. This is really just the other side of the materialist coin.

If the physical world as we know it is not all that exists, what else is there? Well, that little phrase "as we know it" holds the answer. Are there places and events the scientists don't know about because the places can't be detected by our instruments, and the math doesn't work for the events? Or, even worse, stuff that we don't even bother to look for because we're not expecting to find anything? Phenomena that perfectly sane people will swear to have experienced that don't fit into our scientific models? I'm going to say yes to all of the above, even though I can't prove it according to established scientific method. That's now how science works in practice anyway. New phenomena are either ignored until the weight of evidence becomes overwhelming (like asteroids), or the new thing discovered and the justification either provided later or assumed not to be necessary once the occurrence is considered to be common knowledge.

So what's the answer? Let's find out what we can on our own for now. The scientists will catch up. Or not.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Book Review: Alchemy & Mysticism

The Hermetic Museum: Alchemy & Mysticism by Alexander Roob is an art book published by Taschen that happens to be a good introduction to hermeticism. You won't be an expert after reading this book (or looking at the pictures), but you will have been exposed to all of the basic concepts. You'll also see many of the pictures as illustrations in other books. As you would expect from the title, much of the book is devoted to alchemy. However, astrology and qabalah are also covered. Each picture is accompanied by a blurb explaining the symbolism, and some quotes are also included.

Alchemy, simply put, is the art and science of transformation. It's not just about turning lead into gold; it's also about turning yourself into gold. As I mentioned in prior posts, symbols can be very helpful because they operate on many levels at once. With that in mind, I recommend this book to everyone on the hermetic path, even if you don't actually read any of it.