Skeptic

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Kolchak » Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:15 pm

I'm partial to East Tennessee moonshine myself. 8) 8) :wink:

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Pumpkin_Man
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Re: Skeptic

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:49 am

There is also a phenominom known as Saint Elmos Fire, which is caused by lightning or static electricity. It's common on ships at sea and n airplanes, and for countless centuries it has baffeled a lot of people.

I don't know if the Brown Mountain phenominam is Saint Elmos Fire or not, but it's possible.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Kolchak » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:10 pm

Saint Elmos was always a possibility but I think it has been ruled out due to the location and nature of the event it is not suited well for the Saint Elmos fire hypothesis. There is an area in west Texas outside of Marfa that has had the same type of activity going on well over 100 years. Like the Brown Mountain lights, St. Elmos fire was thought to have been a possibility for the phenomenon, but like Brown Mountain, the conditions are thought to not be conducive for that to occur. The general theory for both areas is thought to be geological in nature and if you don't follow the paranormal explanation, its the one I agree with.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:58 am

I tend to agree with that, too. I would love to actualy see something like that, though.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Kolchak » Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:18 pm

Both Marfa, Texas and Brown Mountain, N.C. have places set up just so you can see the lights. The Brown Mountain stuff is free, I think it's still free the Marfa lights too.

It's pretty cool and both places have other tourist type stuff nearby once you get through with light watching.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Thu Aug 15, 2013 4:42 am

Well if I ever get last Winter's medical bills paid off, and manage to save up a sufficient 'grub steak,' I just might head down to one of those places for a 'haunted road trip.' I would love to see those lights, all though I seriously doubt that I would. It would still make for a great photo op, though.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Murfreesboro » Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:44 am

Urraca Mesa on Philmont (Boy Scout) Ranch out in New Mexico also has unexplained bluish lights. I have hiked the Mesa in daylight and have not seen them, but my younger son camped out there when he hiked Philmont, and he told me he saw them in the night. Louis L'Amour wrote his book The Haunted Mesa about Urraca, so it is well known in that part of the country.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:57 am

I heard about that from a friend of mine some years ago. It seems that he use to be a boyscout before he moved from New Mexico to Illinois and he saw those lights himself. We were in College together and it was October, and our conversation turned to the paranormal and he related that story to me about the Urraca Mesa.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Murfreesboro » Fri Aug 16, 2013 5:39 am

Philmont Scout Ranch ( near Cimarron, NM) is a very cool place. I have never in my life felt I was so authentically in the Old West as I felt out there. It is large enough to have many different types of Western landscape. From the top of Urraca, if you look east, you see the flat-topped mesas and the desert, but if you look west, you see the wooded slopes of mountains similar to those in ski resorts (Taos is only about 50-60 miles in that direction). Look north and you can see the beginnings of the Colorado Rockies. The old Santa Fe Trail passed straight through Philmont, and you can see the tracks of the wagon wheels. You can also visit a stagecoach inn that was a stop for Kit Carson. The popular TV mini-series Lonesome Dove was filmed at Philmont.

In the town of Cimarron itself there is a hotel called the St. John, IIRC. Everybody who was anybody in Western outlaw lore passed through there, and the hotel was featured on Haunted History, or some such program, a few years back.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Kolchak » Fri Aug 16, 2013 5:19 pm

You're right New Mexico still has that wild west feel to it!

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Murfreesboro » Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:43 am

BTW, that haunted hotel in Cimarron, NM, is the St. James, I believe, not the St. John, as I said above.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:24 am

New Mexico is a fun place for "Old West" fans. Arizona and Nevada are pretty good, too. I had a lot of fun in the town of Tombstone Arizong, the town that was billed as being "Too tough to die."

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Re: Skeptic

Post by MauEvig » Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:05 pm

I figured this would be the best thread to post this in, although it is a bit old and has gone off track a little bit.
I've already posted some of my "paranormal" experiences in other threads, and while those are creepy enough, there is something I'm more afraid of than ghosts. In fact, I rather know that ghosts are haunting my house than deal with this particular ideal that might happen after we die.
It's the idea that many atheists believe in, that when we die, we simply cease to exist. There is nothing I'm more afraid of. Yet, a lot of people are comfortable with this idea, and I really cannot comprehend how they can be.
The thing is, I no longer believe in God, and I no longer identify as a Christian. Yet, I still think there's more to life than just...existing for the sake of existing. There's got to be more than just life being some random freak accident by abiogenesis, and evolution for billions of years up until this point.
So now when I used to think ghosts were demons, I actually turn to ghost stories as some kind of evidence that there is some kind of existence after we die. It worries me when things can be explained away by natural phenomenon more than the idea of a spirit taking up residence in my home. Sure it's fun to put up skeletons, ghosts and make fun of death, but truthfully death is something I really am terrified of. It's ironic isn't it? I'm a huge fan of Halloween, horror movies, dressing in costumes, eating tons of candy and such, yet death scares me because of the possibility of ceasing to exist. It also depresses me because my loved ones that have died I'll never see again. I try to seek evidence of things like the aura which to me is evidence of the existence of the soul, but it still bothers me.
I'm really not sure what I can do to find some kind of closure, but even scientists aren't sure what really happens when we die. If we do cease to exist, then do I really want to know the answer?
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Re: Skeptic

Post by Murfreesboro » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:24 am

I think many people are seeking evidence of life after death when they turn to ghost stories.

The fear of utter oblivion is very common, even though I suppose it is illogical. After all, if we were simply to cease to exist, we wouldn't know it. OTOH, many religions (at least the monotheistic ones) teach that there is a realm of eternal punishment for those who have not lived according to the tenets of the faith, and that is genuinely terrifying!

That said, I do identify as a Christian, and I do believe in the survival of the soul. I was less of a believer when I was young than I am now, so it is possible for people to change or modify their views about these things over the course of a lifetime. My reasons are largely subjective and based to some extent on my personal experiences during pregnancy and childbirth, when I became convinced that there is indeed a spirit realm other than this material world we see around us. I turned (returned) to Christianity in large part because that was the religious tradition familiar to me, the one I had nominally been raised in, and the one my husband's family accepted, too. I don't want to get into heavy-duty proselytizing, but I will say that I am frequently surprised by how many people reject the Christian faith without actually knowing it very well. It's almost as if their early experiences in church somehow inoculate them against grappling with the faith very deeply. The Bible is a terrific book if you give it a chance. It is not full of rules and anemic Sunday school lessons. It really is tough, challenging, and inspiring.

Right now my daughter (16) is distressed by a psychology class she is taking (IB psych, a two-year course, and probably more in-depth than most high school courses). Both the teacher and most of the other students have decided that there is no free will, yet paradoxically you must live as if there were. She is very unsettled by this attitude and wants to persuade them otherwise, but she is running up against a scientific world-view that insists upon reducing everything to what is logically provable and testable. I tell her, as I have told all my children, that reason is a marvelous gift, a superb tool, but it cannot do everything. It has its limits, and it cannot touch God, who is supra-rational.

I am not one of those Christians who rejects out-right the whole theory of evolution. I believe the world was created by God, but He could have used evolution as an aspect of His creation. However, I have heard one argument from the "Creationist" (anti-evolution) camp that does give me pause. The theory of evolution asks us to believe that organisms move from a point of lesser to greater complexity, whereas everything we know about material life points in the other direction. Things don't get more complex the longer they last. They become less complex, more random and disordered (entropy, I believe that is called).

I also recall a fascinating essay I read a number of years ago by the science writer Tom
Bethell, called "Agnostic Evolutionists," about a group of scientists who had refused to endorse evolutionary theory and were being black-balled by other scientists because of it. Bethell asked one of them, "Do you believe in evolution?" And he answered, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. But isn't it interesting that you have to ask me that question in that way? Because once you have asked me about my belief, you have left science and crossed over into the realm of faith."

I bring this up, not because I wish to dissuade you from believing in evolution (I tend to accept that theory myself), but simply to point out that much of what we are told in pop culture is settled fact remains much more a matter of faith than the media lets on. Also, since you mentioned the "random freak accident by abiogenesis," I thought you had this theory in mind.

I suspect that it is impossible to live completely without faith of any sort. Isn't it an act of faith to ride on an airplane? To step into an elevator? And everything you will ever do in your life that really matters to you will be an act of faith. You can get a money-back guarantee on a refrigerator, but not when you contract a marriage, or have a child, or choose a career. The things that really matter have to be leaps of faith. Even atheists cannot live without it.

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Re: Skeptic

Post by Murfreesboro » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:35 am

I'd like to say one more thing on this subject, something more specifically addressing your fear of oblivion.

I, too, have had a need to believe that the people I have loved, and I myself, would experience a personal survival after death. This is a concern that first surfaced for me when my father died. I was 7, and much of my understanding of religion had come from my mother's mother, who spent a lot of time with me during his illness (he had cancer). She would always tell me that no one is perfect, that Jesus was the only perfect person who ever lived (I guess she saw my tendency toward the vice of perfectionism early on). At other times, though, she would tell me that heaven was a perfect place. When my father died, she tried to console me by pointing out that he was no longer suffering, and that he was now in heaven, that perfect place.

However, her consolation simply raised more questions for me. I remembered she had said that no one was perfect, so that meant my father wasn't perfect, either. But then he had gone to this perfect place, heaven. How could my imperfect father go to that perfect place without spoiling its perfection? And if he were somehow made perfect in order to enter there, how could he continue to be himself? When I asked my grandmother to explain these paradoxes, she admonished me," People have gone crazy thinking about things like that." So then I thought, "Great, my father has died, and I am maybe going crazy." Of course at some level I knew I wasn't crazy, but I knew there were some questions I wasn't supposed to ask.

This question stayed with me a long time. I had my flirtation with eastern religious thought, reincarnation and all that, but rejected it pretty quickly when I learned that the goal of it all was Nirvana. The eastern sources regularly described the soul's entrance into Nirvana as a drop of water entering the ocean. Well, screw that. I mean, once the drop of water enters the ocean, its molecules are still there, but you are never going to find that particular drop of water again. So no Nirvana for me, thank you very much.

One day, when I was a graduate student, I discussed my childhood concerns about my father, and the paradox that had stumped me, with fellow grad students. I think we had just come from a seminar on Dante, that religious poet. One of them, a good friend, commented, "That's interesting. You were essentially having a logical difficulty." And then another guy, someone I knew far less well, remarked, "I think that's the point of the bodily resurrection. It's a guarantee that you will be you forever."

Well, that quick comment, which I think he tossed off pretty easily, hit me like a bolt of lightening. I had never understood, honestly, why it mattered so much in Christian faith that people are supposed to be resurrected in their bodies. And from then on, I read the Bible differently. I saw all these stories about people getting new names. I especially loved the one in Genesis 32, where Jacob wrestles with the angel all night long. At the end of it, the angel touches his hip and cripples him for life, but he gets a new name, Israel, meaning "He who strives with God." What a terrific story. The relationship between man and God is a passionate struggle, like a love affair, you know? It wounds, but it ennobles, too. And I thought about Jesus' renaming Simon Peter, and about Saul who becomes Paul on the Road to Damascus. And it just hit me that the God of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is above all the God who knows your name. That's a God I can live with.

I don't worry so much anymore about my childhood quandary. I still don't perfectly understand it, but I trust that the God who knows my name has a plan for me, both here and hereafter, and it will be a good plan.

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