The Mysticism of Falling into a Black Hole

The unitive mystical experience can be compared to falling into a black hole. When compared this way, it doesn’t sound like a nice experience. Likewise, for many mystics throughout history, their divine experiences weren’t always a merry venture, sometimes encountering hellish realms along the way (see, for example, St. Teresa of Ávila, or St. John of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul).

But the similarities between the mystical encounter and theoretically travelling into a black hole are quite interesting to consider. It makes me wonder if there is more to it than mere analogy. Is there something fundamental to the nature of the universe that mystics are actually experiencing that may also be found in black holes? Continue reading “The Mysticism of Falling into a Black Hole”

Jordan Peterson & Sam Harris Debate the Nature of God

A friend recently shared a video clip with me from an event on June 23, 2018, which was a public conversation and debate between psychologist and professor Jordan Peterson and philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris, moderated by biologist Bret Weinstein. It’s an interesting discussion between a theist (Peterson) and an atheist (Harris) on the nature of God, which I think begins to get at the heart of the issue from both sides. Peterson shares his thoughts about what God is, and then there is discussion that follows. I’ll share the clip here, and then comment on it below. Continue reading “Jordan Peterson & Sam Harris Debate the Nature of God”

Margaret Barker on the Radical Original Understanding of Resurrection

The Methodist biblical scholar, Margaret Barker, wrote a book published in 1996 titled The Risen Lord in which she proposed that

“the original understanding of resurrection may in fact be Jesus’ mystical experience at his baptism, when he was raised up and transformed into the divine Son.”

Margaret Barker
Margaret Barker

Later she summarized these thoughts in a few pages in her 2008 book Temple Themes in Christian Worship, from which I’ll share a few of her intriguing, and I think accurate, insights into the nature of resurrection and how it was originally regarded in the early Christian church. Continue reading “Margaret Barker on the Radical Original Understanding of Resurrection”

Sam Harris talks with Michael Pollan about Psychedelics and Mystical-Spiritual Experience

This morning I listened to a podcast conversation between neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris and bestselling journalist and author Michael Pollan about Pollan’s new book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. I reviewed Pollan’s latest work recently here. Continue reading “Sam Harris talks with Michael Pollan about Psychedelics and Mystical-Spiritual Experience”

Are Mystics Atheists?

In an interview with John Gray about his book Seven Types of Atheism, this exchange took place:

[Questioner:] You finish with the mystical kind of atheism. It sounds almost like people who have a big drug experience and talk about the oneness of everything.

[Gray:] Well, it’s a radical kind of atheism that asserts that the nature of reality is ineffable—it can’t be embodied in words. Schopenhauer thought the ultimate reality of things was spiritual, but we couldn’t really grasp it with our reasoning. He didn’t have any need for a creator God, but actually, he isn’t so far from certain traditions in mysticism and different religions. Some types of mystical religion come close to atheism in their understanding of God as unimaginable.

What did he mean that some “mystical religion is close to atheism”? Aren’t mystics supposed to be people who find union with God, who become one with God? How could that possibly be “atheistic”? Here is my interpretation.

Continue reading “Are Mystics Atheists?”