Debating with friends in email about whether or not there can be empirical evidence of God. I suggested there are varying views about what an empirical perception is, and how it can be limited or not. Philosophers like Jacob Needleman argued for reasonable empirical experience of God. If you increase consciousness through inner work, you can have the same experience — so then it becomes ‘replicable experience’. (Instruction does not involve prayer or hallucinogenic drugs.)

He has a book called What is God? that explains. And for example if every night you get a phone call from a correspondent, Joe, whom no one you know has met, and he’s a really wild interesting guy on the phone and you tell them about it but they see no other evidence of Joe, after some years they perhaps suspect you’re making him up. So your experience isn’t at that moment duplicatable to others.

But you are absolutely certain Joe exists, not only because of the phone calls but because of the content of the phone calls, his voice, the consistency of information and so on despite some mystery about him. (Joe gives no last name and no address. etc) . You are not going to say, “Maybe Joe doesn’t really exist.” You can claim, “Oh he may be a computer program or something.” But actually you get a “sense of verisimilitude” from many conversations with Joe that make him clearly a real person. So even if it’s not replicable for others, you’re convinced he’s real. But others can have the Joe experience if they follow instructions. They must come to your house at a definite time and listen on the speaker phone, and this must happen many times before he’ll take their number and call them too and before they are convinced he’s real…

Sophisticated models of a higher consciousness investing the universe, which some call God, do not describe a being that is omnipotent. Compared to us, it’s perhaps omniscient, everything being relative. If you insist that by definition God must be omnipotent, the creator of the universe, your judge in the afterlife, etc, then no sophisticated thinker believes that God exists. But a supernal higher intelligence that is benevolent but not able to help us in everything exists, according to this more sophisticated model.

From personal experience I’m convinced that there is a consciousness that exists outside individualized physical organisms, outside physical brains, which is essentially ubiquitous. I believe we have a connection to it, we’re sort of like waves on its sea, and temporarily “separate” as waves on the surface seem (in some respects) to be. I think there are evolved consciousnesses within this supernal consciousness, which are intermediate between us and it. I believe this conscious is not omnipotent and has severe limitations but it is possible to interact with it with some benefit to oneself. I have no good name for it.

Once there was an eskimo.About four hundred years ago. This eskimo was out in his kayak and got swept out to sea in a storm. He was then caught in a powerful current. Injured and without his paddles now, he drifted helplessly south. he lived on rainwater and two small fish. He was within a few breaths of dead when he was picked up, weeks later, by Islanders in the warm pacific. They took him in, saved his life, and taught him their language. he told them about a place he’d come from, where water in the cold turns to white stuff you can walk on like sand. Called ‘snow’. He described fantastic mountains of water that keep their shape, called icebergs. The islanders had never been so far north, had never seen any such thing, and assumed he was crazy. he said, “No see, if you go in your canoes with me, up north, eventually I can show you this place. But it’s a long long journey and hard to get there.” They said, “Don’t be ridiculous. Why would we believe such a thing exists. You’re mad.” He got quite angry and frustrated and told them they were small minded fools. So they figured he was cursed and they killed him and ate him at a feasting party. The end.

The relevance of that story, here? Sometimes you have to go where a remarkable thing is, to confirm that it’s really there.

There’s an inner journey, and it takes time and effort, but it does get you there.



John Shirley

Author of numerous novels, including Demons, City Come A-Walkin’, Stormland and the A Song Called Youth Cyberpunk trilogy. Winner of the Bram Stoker Award.