So I posted about a woman’s funeral where stray dogs showed up. The woman had fed stray dogs all her life and she lived in a village far from the funeral. Maybe a sham, maybe not. Strange things happen that we do not well understand. I have always been struck by the multiple stories and witnesses from World War I when soldiers became isolated from their side and had to cross no-man’s land, littered with barb wire and land mines, to get back to their own trenches and what little safety there was, when a luminous figure appeared, maybe a dead comrade or maybe some other person, and guided them with surety through the darkness and danger to safety only to then disappear. Not a sham, witnessed by sober soldiers on a field of battle. Under stress yes but guidance through a mine field? Oh sure, 1000 steps of coincidence; it happens but while hallucinating? I don’t know about that. And what about the numerable reports from people with near-death or even death experiences, many of whom report a tunnel of light but as was mentioned here some time ago, many other striking reports of some similarity. Not shams. How to explain? One academic wrote that the tunnel of light was probably some sort of hallucination due to brain dysfunction as the body exhausted its life just before recovering somehow. Maybe, but that does not really explain much. What sort of dysfunction? Why such similar experiences? And what about the kid posted about a little while back who remembered at age 6 details of a past life that proved to be so accurate?
Recently I have wondered about the mysteries we humans seem to find, both ancient and modern. Long ago thunder and lightning and heavenly motions were all facts and seemingly understood as religious in nature. Now we know differently (and in most cases, better) and dark matter and energy is a mystery (for now). We have other mysteries, I believe, that fall in the region between the knowable and unknowable. I can not know what is in your mind, really, and for that matter, I can not know what lies in my mind below the limen of consciousness. Whence does an intuition come, like Kekule’s dream of the benzene ring or Jung’s archetypes? We cannot know what the moment after our death is just as we cannot know what was before the Big Bang. The boundaries between the known and unknown and, even more, between the knowable and unknowable shift over time and with our effort. How we manage our ignorance is important. Science is so powerful because the method is to make mistakes on purpose, though maybe not intentionally, in order to learn; science maps the terrain between known/unknown and knowable/unknowable even as it redoes the landscape. And here is where, I think, religion, as powerful and functional as it is, fails as an intellectual endeavor for modern times, because it asserts that these boundaries do not shift; indeed they are not shiftable (except stubbornly maybe with hindsight; the Catholic church does admit we orbit the sun). Not that there isn’t a god of some sort or at least a spirit beyond that we sense but do not or cannot know. And that is my question: is it unknown or unknowable. It may be a real live fact but all facts are subject to understanding and discovery on this side of the pale. We humans are good at filling in the blanks with our own compositions; the real trick (and truth) is to let the blanks be until the facts are clear. Travel on.