The Sheldrake Vernon Dialogues
Summary: Dr Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author best known for his hypothesis of morphic resonance. Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist and author. Together they discuss: consciousness, prayer, angels, science and spiritual practices, magic, dreams, hell, the unconscious, rituals, enlightenment, atheism, materialism, and more.
In 1915, 100 years ago this month, Sigmund Freud published a paper in which he described what he had discovered in his psychoanalytic patients: that there is an aspect of the human psyche of which individuals are typically profoundly unaware, namely the unconscious. His explorations set in motion a broad and fascinating path of investigation that gripped other key 20th century figures such as Carl Jung, and with which we are still engaged today. In this Science Set Free podcast, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon discuss this dynamic aspect of human life and how the unconscious relates to ideas from the soul to morphic fields.
Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon discuss choral evensong, a beautiful evening service sung by choirs in hundreds of churches and cathedrals throughout the English-speaking world, not only on Sundays but in some cathedrals, Oxford and Cambridge colleges, and Chapels Royal every day. Admission free. A new website gives all details of services in Britain and Ireland: http://choralevensong.org
There is a growing new mood in science. The grip that scientific materialism has had on the scientific imagination is beginning to loosen. This is the philosophy that all things in the natural world can be reduced to the material level. But it seems as if the many everyday experiences that individuals have, in particular being conscious, which can't be accounted for by physicalism are forcing the possibility of considering alternatives. In this dialogue, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon consider what might be happening, how such a shift would make a difference in areas from health to parapsychology, and what might happen next.
Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon discuss ancient Greek philosophy in the latest of the Science Set Free podcast series. They explore how the ideas and way of life of the Stoics, Platonists and others can help us today bridge supposed divides between science and spirituality. They also look at how Christianity adopted and developed older perceptions of reality and what this means for modern therapies and insights. The conversation is prompted by the publication of Mark's new book, The Idler Guide to Ancient Philosophy.
In his book, Atheists: The Origin of the Species, Nick Spencer tells the story of atheism as one of protest and politics, rather than simply as an argument about the existence of God. In this Science Set Free podcast, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon ask what history can tell us about atheism as a way of life, as an account of being human, and what the future of atheism might bring.
Practises of silence are integral to religious and wisdom traditions, so why are they so important? What is silence anyway, and does any science back up the intuitions and experiences? Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon pursue the transformative potential of silence in this Science Set Free podcast.
Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon discuss how the communication of science routinely exploits notions of wonder and beauty, and what this might tell us about how science opens onto wider dimensions of reality. Does science fiction similarly suggest that science is grappling with aspects of reality that it can't itself contain? Why is the experience of wonder and, further, the so-called supernatural so popular with the public? What is the hidden metaphysics embedded in popular science, and so perhaps in science itself?
Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon discuss our postmortem experience by thinking about what we know of being alive. Might dreams tell us something about what happens when we die? Is the notion of the subtle body an indicator of life after death? How do the living relate to the dead, and how might the way we live our lives shape our experience after death?
Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon discuss whether atheism is a phase that many people go through, one widely recognised within spiritual traditions, a transition period in which ideas about God are discarded so that a deeper perception of the divine emerge. They wonder whether the same thing happens at a cultural level and so whether contemporary atheism is itself a phase leading to more vital conceptions of God.
Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon discuss the value of spiritual practices undertaken with others, or as it is known in the English Christian tradition, the value of common prayer. They explore what is lost when the so-called 'spiritual but not religious' generation assumes spiritual practice is an essentially individual pursuit, and what needs to happen in order for collective traditions to become accessible once more.
St Thomas Aquinas thought that we have spiritual senses as well as the familiar bodily senses. Are there aspects of human nature that have been lost or suppressed in the modern world? In what ways do people still experience the presence of God? And how can we recognize and cultivate these spiritual abilities?
Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon discuss the mindfulness phenomenon, which although partly a therapeutic movement seems akin to a spiritual revival as well. So what does the interest in mindfulness say about our times, how does it relate to past movements such as transcendental meditation, what can Christians and other theists make of mindfulness, and might it be a sign of a renewal in the quest for God - or even, God's quest for us?
Anthropologists have found that all over the world people believe that their minds are transparent to gods, saints, ancestors or other spirits. This is also true within the Christian tradition. As Europe became more secular in the 18th and 19th centuries, the idea that minds were transparent was secularised in novels, with the novelist having a view of the inner workings of other people's minds. And now our emails, phone calls and activities are under continuous surveillance, making this ancient belief a technical reality.
Invoking a presence beyond our self for guidance and inspiration is a fundamental practice of spirituality. The word spirit is derived from its Latin ancestor: spiritus, "breath or wind." To be in-spired means for something to be breathed into you. In this dialogue, Rupert and Mark discuss a variety of spiritual practices.
In the latter half of the 19th century, many intellectuals shifted from believing in a God to a philosophy of materialism. However, within the materialist worldview, aspects of God still remained in the form of transcendent, universal and changeless laws, along with universal energy. In this dialogue, Rupert and Mark shed light on the God hidden within atheism.