1. says

    The truth is, Microsoft won the contract to provide the life-afterlife contact interface, and God is having a bitch of a time getting tech support.

  2. craig says

    I was just thinking last night that the desire for a heaven is infantile. Like a little kid dreaming of being able to eat nothing but candy forever. Or the woman in that David Byrne movie who never got out of bed because she was so rich she didn’t have to.

    They say life without an afterlife is meaningless. Actually eternal perfect life would be meaningless. No limits, and thus no achievement, no challenges. After the first read through the cosmic instruction manual, no mystery and thus no surprises, no wonder or awe. In a sense no context to anything.

    Pretty pathetic even wanting such a thing.

  3. Hairhead says

    I am not a violent person. I have never been in a physical fight in my life. But my father was a minister and I watched him comfort and support people whose loved ones had died, and I saw the desperate need and the vulnerability and the exploitability of these grieving people. And . . .

    . . . when I think of Edward, van Pragh, et al, I get so angry I become physically sick. If I were suddenly to find myself in the same room as van Pragh I would punch him right in the face, the amoral fucking vampire, sucking off the pain and need of grief-stricken mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, spouses . . . . stealing their money for a transparently phoney, unhelpful fantasy . . . .

    Just thinking about it sends my blood pressure off the charts. Exploiters of the emotionally bereaved deserve a special punishment in (non-existent) Hell.

  4. woozy says

    Death is apparently a leading cause of brain damage.

    Yeah….. Can’t think of anything much more damaging to the brain than death….

  5. Janine says

    How long is the brain deprived of oxygen before the soul moves on?

    Could be this lose of intelligence is needed if the saved soul can stand to constantly praise the big sky daddy for all eternity. I think a person of even below average intelligence would seek to end their afterlife after just a few hours.

  6. Three-Fitty says

    “Is there a John in the room?”

    “There’s one down the hall to the left.”

    BTW, that brain-damage thing makes complete sense. The first thing the dead forget is where they hid the money. Also the stock certificates and the deeds.

  7. AllanW says

    There is a clear and understandable critique of this stuff and also a good, inspiring section on being an atheist in the book ‘Tricks of the mind’ by Derren Brown. I’m nothing to do with him but I was surprised on reading it that he is so obviously vehement about supernatural quackery.

  8. Brian says

    Another, albeit more simple, critique of this type of thing is the South Park episode entitled “Biggest Douche in the Universe” starring John Edward.

  9. Molkien says

    Hairhead, can you explain the difference to me between what your father did and what John Edwards does? To me it seems there is no difference (comforting people with lies) except your father was not paid as much, and was perhaps more sincere.

  10. dorris says

    “Better eternal nothingness” is right! I can’t think of any hell worse than having my consciousness leave my body and float around in some kind of limbo where I could see my loved ones grieving and suffering but not be able to reach them except through some grief-whore like Van Pragh or Edwards. What a low-down, nasty profession these douchebags have. I’d put them somewhere just above child molesters on the ladder of subterranean life.

  11. Sastra, OM says

    I once saw a “debate” on Larry King between several people who “talk to the dead” and a group of skeptics, which as I recall included James Randi and a rabbi. The rabbi made an interesting objection which would seem to make sense from the theist point-of-view. How likely is it that people who die — who visit the afterlife and gain the knowledge of God — can contact the living and say nothing more profound, nothing more relevant, nothing more informative than how they’re feeling and confirm how they died (which is already known)? The spiritual revelations are bland, and the information is useless stuff like “I’m looking after your cat.” The rabbi was as scornful as the atheist.

    Spiritual cold readers don’t just degrade, contaminate, and trivialize the memory of the people who have died. They pretty much make a silly mockery of religion, too.

    Like that needs help.

  12. Ktesibios says

    That the only dead people who will deign to talk to a medium are those who have nothing to say or think about has been known for quite some time. Here’s Mark Twain on the subject in 1882:

    I learned that a pilot whom I used to steer for is become a spiritualist, and for more than fifteen years has been receiving a letter every week from a deceased relative, through a New York spiritualistic medium named Manchester-postage graduated by distance: from the local post-office in Paradise to New York, five dollars; from New York to St. Louis, three cents. I remember Mr. Manchester very well. I called on him once, ten years ago, with a couple of friends, one of whom wished to inquire after a deceased uncle. I remember Mr. Manchester very well. I called on him once, ten years ago, with a couple of friends, one of whom wished to inquire after a deceased uncle.

    This uncle had lost his life in a peculiarly violent and unusual way, half a dozen years before: a cyclone blew him some three miles and knocked a tree down with him which was four feet through at the butt and sixty-five feet high. He did not survive this triumph. At the séance just referred to, my friend questioned his late uncle, through Mr. Manchester, and the late uncle wrote down his replies, using Mr. Manchester’s hand and pencil for that purpose. The following is a fair example of the questions asked, and also of the sloppy twaddle in the way of answers, furnished by Manchester under the pretence that it came from the spectre. If this man is not the paltriest fraud that lives, I owe him an apology:

    Read the conversation with the uncle

  13. Janine says

    Uh-oh! Cognitive(?) dissonance!

    I saw a Minneapolis-based cable program that said in heaven we were going to talk about the Lord, and how wonderful he is.

    And she’s been there! Nyah!

    Posted by: Kristine | December 4, 2007 1:50 PM

    Confirms my brain damage theory of the afterlife. Just gossip about the greatness of big sky daddy. A much better fate would be seal people longing about on the beach and laughing at farts. At least that will end.

  14. Sastra, OM says

    “The only good that I can see in the demonstration of the truth of “Spiritualism” is to furnish an additional argument against suicide. Better live a crossing-sweeper than die and be made to talk twaddle by a ‘medium’ hired at a guinea a séance.” (attributed to T.H. Huxley)

  15. Bride of Shrek says

    Last week I listened to a radio interview on one of our station called Triple J which is a very popular but alternate station. They were interviewing Alison Dubois, who the TV gobshite show Medium is based on. Funny, with all her woo spirits informing her, she didn’t catch on that they were taking the piss badly out of her. I nearly choked when they led her up this path:

    JJJ: So to you there’s no change between life and death, you can still talk to the people after they’re dead and nothing changes.

    AD: Pretty much, my relationship with them remains the same.

    JJJ: So when one of your friends is really sick you basically don’t give a shit?

    AD: (Silence then small , hesitant giggle.)

    Classic moment in radio.

  16. says

    Unfortunately for believers, a lot of conversations in the present about the dimension of faith seem to have the same convoluted vagueness. I number myself among that unhappy band at times!

  17. Shane says

    Hey Bride Of Shrek, do recall which show Dubious was on… Safran, Jay and the Doctor etc because it may be available as a podcast?

  18. Bride of Shrek says

    Hey Shane

    Pretty sure it was Jay & the Doctor and it was, as I think about it harder, about two -three weeks ago. Hope you can find it!

  19. SEF says

    Ecc.9:5 seems to confirm that the dead won’t know anything any more and thus aren’t going to be great conversationalists.

    Meanwhile, there are prohibitions in the Bible about even attempting to talk to the dead (undead zombie Jesus apparently didn’t count to his alleged followers!). Eg:

    Lev.19:31 makes it clear that people who claimed to talk to the dead already existed in the society (and that it was bad to go to them) – and v26 vaguely implies that witchcraft etc works and is bad rather than stating that it’s futile and thus bad. Lev.20:6 makes it a bad move even to be “friendly” with such people.

    Lev.20:27 makes it clear that it’s also bad to be one of those mediums or wizards – and again fails to point out that they’re only con artists anyway. But of course it’s the rival con-artists who are running things. So they could hardly admit that.

    Deut.18:10-14 is an interesting contradiction of Gen.1:14 – and again implies that the abilities being banned exist and work. The same (contradictory) theme continues in Chronicles.

    One could take the health-and-safety regulations view of the laws and suggest that the prohibition is intended to be humane because the authors were well aware that believing in that sort of rubbish really messes with people’s minds (the living ones that is!) and can be self-destructive without it having to be true or work. However, the fact that the religious leaders are doing the same things anyway does rather ruin the possibility of giving them the benefit of the doubt.