Alun - I think what you're refering to is the 'Minnesota experiment' where an inference was made that our preferences, even for spouse's names and marriage dates, are hard-wired, ie genetic rather than arising from life experience.

Ann - This is the subject matter of the foreword of Robert Graves' 'The Greek Myths' (later editions). Caution is advised with respect to doses since a profound perception can so easily become an exercise in profound vomiting, or worse. The traditional european brew that made witches 'fly' contained three of the most toxic wild plants; the doses being heavily diluted before thresholds were established.

Barry - A more recent example of permonitions would be 9/11. A police officer who died that day told his wife, the day before, of a dream he'd had of having his legs crushed and crying for his mother.

BD - University of Oxford's Professor Richard Dawkins, in his C4 'Root of all evil?', argues for the universal abandonment of religion. Attractive as an absolute ideal, this appears unrealistic in the real world. Moreover, it is, by it's nature, not religion that causes problems, but rather it's interpretation, given the usual emphasis on tolerance.
I had a problem with the assumption of the Virgin even at an early age. I agree that the earliest reference to this dates from some 600 years after Christ's death/resurrection. Pius' revelation on this matter, given other events, does not convince. The Catholic church was not the first but remains our closest link with the late Roman empire.

Bridey - Yes, I've been to Stonehenge. Already considered sacred for some considerable time, the first phase (3000-2920 BC) consisted of a circular ditch and bank (the henge). The second, timber uprights, the third, the bluestones and the fourth, the sarsons (2500-2000 BC) when the open pasture around the site became intensively farmed. Three large postholes (in the current car-park) must be taken into account when considering the earliest layout, the mid-winter sunset being thought to be most important, as at Newgrange. If an influx from Portugal/Spain is possible, a landing is likelier to have been nearer Carn Menyn, than Wiltshire. The similarity, in that a bluestone ring exists also there, but nowhere else, could be an honour to ancestors whose people did well, the Welsh ring being thought older. The timber uprights could hint at a conical structure, which might have been enlarged, even a temporary roofed space being useful for a mid-winter festival. Some 210 miles almost due north is Thornborough, N Yorks (SE2979) at the same age (5000 years old) which has 3 henges faced with gypsum with a ditch inside and out, the banks broken by a path through the centre of the henges. The layout resembles Orion's belt, Orion rising above the central path (viewed from N) about mid-Aug (at time of construction). The henges are considered to be archaeologically clean compared to the surrounding area. The flatness of the land to the east of Thornborough might have had mid-winter significance.
A 'stonesthrow' ENE from Stonehenge are Durrington Walls dating to 2500 BC. Here a 16m wide ditch, 6m deep, was surrounded by a 3m high bank of chalk over a distance of a mile. Two wood 'circles' have been found inside the circle (one 'reconstructed') together with the only Neolithic road found in Europe, leading straight to the River Avon, a similar arrangement to that found at Stonehenge. Alignments at Durrington suggest a mid-winter significance and middens point to much social activity possibly at this time.
The river might well have played a part in ritual linking the two sites. If the stones represent the ancestors, and wood the living, a journey between the two might signify a transition between them. Water was the most magical medium.

Brigita - An explanation for a resurgence of interest in the 'paranormal' in Western countries could lie with a vast majority of that society using technology whose function it does not understand. Anyone can use a mobile phone, but try and explain how it works. The same applies to air travel. To most this remains magical. To previous generations the impossible has become commonplace. Incredible complexity has brought this about, and on a disposable basis. There is no need to know how something works in order to use it. Daily emphasis on food production has disappeared (how many Westerners know how to feed themselves from scratch?). At the same time, religion has lost its significance increasing the choices to explore.

BT - Perception will be dependent on experience, howsoever that is gained. Following chaos theory simple systems can exhibit complex behaviour. A series of small learning robots, whose 'intelligence' was described as 'fifty brain cells or that of a slug', were confined in a pen programmed to keep moving but to avoid each other. Though identical, one apparently developed tendencies described as suicidal by the researcher to the point that it would elect to shut itself down. Although it may not be fair to credit the robot with consciousness of it's existence to the extent that it could and would determine it's future, one can see higher consciousness' exhibiting similar behaviour when under duress. One robot had decided not to play.

CB - Christianity's major premise may well be 'love' but this was not always so, given the massacres of the First Crusade, for example, and even the Anglican debates concerning gays. Jerusalem was a city where all faiths were tolerated and accepted. The atrocities committed against Muslims then and later, I believe, still have resonance today. Islam, rising as Byzantium fell, was a seat of learning and civilization far in advance of anything offered by western Christian society, but Muslims took some 40 years to learn to respond in kind to Christianity's bestial barbarism. It should be remembered that William's soldiers of 1066 had to serve penance for their killings, whereas the killing, mutilation and even cannabalism of the Crusaders in the First Crusade was the penance. By my own personal reckoning, mainstream christianity had lost the plot by the sixth century, given St David's propensity to harness his monks to the plough and whipping them. If James' (the Just) approach or interpretation (after all he was Christ's brother) had been followed rather than Paul (et al) then I think the world would be a far better place. Unfortunately, this branch of christianity was wiped out when the Romans sacked Jerusalem, although remnants could have survived elsewhere.

CD - The concept of 'intelligent design' appearing in nature I would welcome as a subject for philosophical and even scientific debate. However, I cannot subscribe to the view that the universe was created in one week in 4004 BC. Doesn't the supposition of such a human time-scale impose unnecessary limitations on the capabilities, eg longevity, of an 'infinite creator'?
Perhaps animals, like apes, do not compose music, paint pictures or write literature quite simply because they have no need to.

Danielle - Predictions can be awkward. Nostradamus now appears to be utterly unreliable. I am one who holds Revelations as being about Nero's time and not the future. However, the Aztecs, who appear to have predicted their own demise with accuracy, thought that civilization would be destroyed by earthquakes in December 2012.

DB - True, but experienced trainers of animals, particularly dolphins and primates, have mentioned that they have felt that it is not they who are imparting skills to a lower life-form, but rather it is the animal who exhibits patience in attempting to teach the human what it can achieve. On occasion, it must be admitted, their wits certainly do appear to outperform our own. Consider reports of domestic cats attacking burglars. And winning. My own experience with animals is that communication is more by sound and body language than true 'speech' (if only!), however, time is the most important aspect of 'learning' a new animal.

DR - We recently had a TV programme ('Are you telepathic?') which tackled these issues and yielded some interesting results. 93% of UK people apparently believe in telepathy. There were two tests where 1 of 5 Zener cards were selected. In one test 19% of 'non-believer' viewers and 22% of 'believer' viewers chose correctly and in the other 8% of studio-based professed 'psychics' and 16% of 'others' chose correctly. In another experiment, where an individual was asked to guess who was telephoning them a 50% success rate (odds 20:1) was obtained. This compared to an expected success rate of 25%. A larger and earlier study gave results of 42% (odds quoted at 1025:1). Figures quoted suggested that 34% of women and 30% of men in the audience exhibited some degree of telepathy. In another ('Ultimate Psychic Challenge'?) 44% of audience believers ('Is it possible to speak with the dead?') became 54%, 19% of non-believers became 24% and 37% of those undecided became 22% by the end of the programme, believers outnumbering non-believers by 2 to 1 at each stage.

Ellie - There was a recent report where a study of obesity in mice discovered a chemical called 'orexin(?)', a deficiency of which in humans produces narcolepsy. I think it was suggested that the natural state of all animals is to sleep. ("... to sleep, perchance to dream...")

FD - No, 'godliness' appears to alter according to the country you live in. The highest levels of belief are found in poorer countries. A recent BBC poll of 10,000 people in ten countries gave the following;
Have you always believed in God? - S Korea 28%, Russia 42%, UK 46%, India 92% and Nigeria 98%.
Would you die for your God? - UK 19%, Israel 37%, USA 71% and Nigeria 90%.
Who's to blame for world problems? - Jews 34%, Christians 24%, Hindus 18% and Muslims 14%.

Hassan - The human genome, if I remember correctly (I know I'll be corrected if I'm wrong), consists of some 30,000 genes, which, it is reported, can 'remember' whether they came from the father or mother. There is argument that the immediate environment can impose itself on an individual's genetic pattern. If the base is 4 (C,G,A,T) then with additional 'layers of coding' the possible combinations available will be immense (would anyone care to guess a figure?). But, by no means, will all of these combinations be viable. Perhaps only a very small percentage may be so.
'Special' combinations representing historically important figures, and others like you and me, could no doubt repeat and probably do. If the premise suggested by the Minnesota experiment is correct then individuals of a particular historical impact could reappear in line with 'prophecies' (eg; the Aztecs). Such number-crunching is beyond my means and, as far as I'm aware, no genetic evidence is available for comparison purposes. The Newtonian concept of 'knowing the universes future if all positional data extant at one time is known' has largely been displaced by probability rather than certainty. If I had the time, and the expertise, I think I'd look for a fractal angle, but one must also consider all of the prophecies that were wrong (eg; Nostradamus) and natural losses through attrition (eg; childhood diseases, disasters, etc).
The closest combination I can think of, in time, would be Zoroaster and Buddha. The predominant 'maleness' prevalent, for me, increases the importance of female instances, like Joan of Arc, Nefertiti or even Al-Lat. Alexander has cast a very long shadow. Given a different outcome would Boudicca have been deified?
Rightly or wrongly, I concur with Graves that Mary Magdalen was not principally a whore, but a high-ranking priestess, her washing of Christ's feet being part of a marriage ceremony whereby the title of 'King of the Jews' was bestowed, matrilineal descent of title still being retained, in a fashion, by Judaism.

Ian - I've seen a bit about Father Mychal Judge and by all accounts he appears to have impressed as a good man, peaceful, with a profound respect for all, which was reciprocated. Beatification can be given when there are two miracles which can be expressed as times when God suspends the laws of nature. With this in mind, I think it would be agreeable if the Catholic church reviewed the case. I doubt if those who knew him would consider it inappropriate. At times like 9/11 though you often find saints, some survivors reported a Brit going around the stairs comforting others and even singing songs to calm people. He didn't survive either.

Jayne - Hmmm.

JD - To suggest the recent sinking of a ferry carrying pilgrims was karma returning for the Danish protests, some might find offensive. Newton's 'For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction' might indicate more of an elasticity. Those who've dabbled with 'magic' observe caution with invocations, reporting backlashes.

Jeff - Something extra-sensory to us may not be for animals. Elephants employ infra-sound for long range communication, dolphins use ultra-sound for echolocation, both of which are invisible to us. Some insects see in infra-red. Just prior to the recent Boxing Day tsunami animals were observed leaving the areas affected some ten minutes before the waves struck, animal casualties being few. Earthworms fleeing their winter burrows, amongst other things, led thousands to flee Haicheng, China in 1975, hours before it was flattened by an earthquake. A US geologist, James Berkland, called his local paper to predict an earthquake when the dogs missing in his area rose from 15 to 57. Four days later San Francisco was badly hit. A dog's nose is 100x more sensitive than ours. It could probably smell the melanoma.

JP - This I know of from been asked to keep still for long periods of time. 'White light' is an adequate description, but it's the purity, clarity and vibrance that impress upon me, though brief. I've seen brain scans where the parietal and rear activity reduce but the temporal lobes remain 'lit-up', in apparently similar situations. The parietal lobes, I believe, have associations with time. When a memory is evoked, the same areas 'light-up' as those involved at the time of the original perception. Is it too simplistic to suggest that there can be no memory without an original perception? A random and instant 'surge' across even a vast network would not be expected to yield much in the way of recognisably historical structure, something 'way-out' perhaps. Ketamine (an endorphine) users report a 'tunnel' and a spiritual aspect similar to that experienced in near-death. But this could be attributed to the brains release of the same chemical when under duress. There are neuro- people working on this, anyone care to contribute?

Kath - I was brought up Catholic (influence originating from Cork) but I married a Northern Irish 'Proddy'. We might have divorced and had our 'wars' but we certainly never found, to this day, any requirement to argue about any aspect of religion. You can safely assume that we are both definitely 'lapsed', my 'losing' my religion when my father died when I was ten.

Kirsty - Bastet ('She of Bast', Egypt) has been cited as the virgin goddess prototype for the christian Virgin.

Louise - We'd had rain - as we do in this part of the world, for weeks. I think we'd had a number of thunder storms, and one took place more or less above the house that night. I was standing in a room on the ground floor in what used to be the kitchen, complete with old cast-iron range. The inside of the chimney was soaked with the rain and, presumably, lightning struck the chimney. A metre long slate 'hip' fell from the roof like a bomb, and I found myself sitting on the floor in the middle of the room with my hair standing on end. Yes, there was a witness to this event. There might have been a blue flash, but I don't remember one.

Mike L - The accounts of small children, and others, 'remembering' previous existences could firstly be attributed to a defensive mechanism where the creation of new identities is intuitively implemented in order to avoid or counter memories of abuse. Striking examples, however, of another kind were covered in 'Past Lives', a recent Discovery channel offering. As in a recent case of a four-year-old remembering being killed in a Great War that neither he, or his parents, had knowledge of, or the young girl whose recall of an old rail accident shows, if true, that some kind of 'time-slip' is involved. The case of an Indianapolis Police Department Captain, Bob Snow, who, under regressional hypnosis therapy, recalled the life of an artist who died in 1917 is interesting. Polygraph testing gave a 95% certainty that he was telling the truth. C5's 'Extraordinary People: The Boy Who Lived Before' details cases yielding exceptionally precise 'memories'. If time is linear, how or where do the individuals described 'wait' until reincarnated? Or is there no delay thus implying parallelism? Both boys described in the later programme describe, independently of each other, falling through a hole at the transition. I think that the human view of time is too mechanistic to deal with these issues. We can measure it and quantify it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we can know its complete nature. Attempting to consider predetermination in these circumstances may then be futile, but if true, is it then fair to jail murderers, or to seek the intervention of a god when faced with adversity?

MR - Something similar was said by a maths professor of mine in respect of one having to come to terms with never having an original idea ('... standing on the shoulders of giants...', etc). So, yes, it is interesting to consider when the concept of, say, a stargate (fairy portal) was originally postulated. Maybe this was considered by the writers in depicting the 'event horizon' as water. In respect of time, another tutor observed that 'in his day' there was only one time in his home, that given by the mantlepiece clock, which was wound every Sunday. Now we have the time electronically on our watches, mobiles, microwaves, computers, videos, tvs and even central heating, and they're all different. I think all would agree that on a subjective basis time is variable. Thought has been given to the concept of c (light speed) falling in value resulting in the big bang. Would the onset of a big crunch bring about a temporal reverse? Maxwell's equations work for both directions in time.

PD - Some 30 years ago a friend who was 'into' astrology had this to say on this direction "The age of Cancer was about 9,000 years ago. Before the invention of writing etc (Gemini) - before Taurus (the bull-worship in Minoan Crete) and before Aries (Egypt). Women ruled - the moon was probably much closer to the earth - men probably hadn't sussed their fatherhood - their part in it. It all worked through women. Very little individualised consciousness in the human race. The time of the flood, probably". The moon reference is not literal but considers the moon/goddess worship then extant. The date and association with an inundation is interesting.
A weaponless culture preoccupied with gaming and 'washing' has been found in Pakistan, evidence of its origination may lie in the structures found in the Arabian Sea (Gulf of Khambhat?). The Palk Strait is reported to be rich with archaeology.

RJ - Thank you for your prayers, but may I ask you nicely to keep them to yourself. There is no need to tell me when, or even that you are. Thank you.

Sally - This variability is pronounced and I think that the pattern may well apply to humans. I've known and ridden horses but I would venture that my experience of them is very, very limited. However, I have met some of whom I would declare to be utterly 'thick' or 'twp' (pronounced toop) as they say in this part of the world, and others whose force of character, and intelligence, is frankly awesome. I believe that dairymen can say something similar about cows.

Sarah - Joan of Arc's voices, like those of others of faith, may not have been the product of a 'broken' mind. An I-330 production for C4, 'Voices in my head', suggests that the brain can accommodate more than one 'construct of reality' ie; consciousness. 2-4% of the UK's population (2.4m) might hear voices, 1.5m of whom are untroubled by them. Only a third refer themselves as patients, at some point in their lives.

Satveer - Arthur is a good example, where, it appears, that in adverse circumstances a mythical hunter/hero's attributes were applied to an individual, real or imaginary. Another example could be St George who, according to Gibbon, was not particularly savoury; and he certainly killed no dragon. Yet to suggest otherwise is anathema to many English. England appears to have not been the only country to have ascribed affinity with George, and therefore appears to have followed a fashion that swept west from Byzantium. It is post-Alexander that we have an emphasis on supernatural strengths applied to male 'gods'.

Simone - Not very often, but having said that I recently dreamt of a colleague who was asking me about some keys. The following afternoon the same colleague did indeed ring me to ask about some keys.

Sue - Optimum human groups appear to number 150, a number acknowledged by such groups as hunter-gatherers, the Hutterites, villages, etc. About 6 million years ago a growth hormone (ASPM), common to most life and therefore probably a billion years old, in primates mutated to a new version carried by humans. This appears to have affected the expansion of the cerebral cortex, much developed in humans. About 6,000 years ago a new variant occured which coinicided with a number of flooding phenomena and the advent of agricultural societies and 'civilisations'. Today 10% of people carry both new versions, 40% one of the old and one of the new and 50% both of the ancestral.

Teri - Sri Lanka does predominate as a centre for 'reincarnations', but all cases manifest themselves on a cross cultural basis there and elsewhere. I think one institute has covered 2,700 cases in some 40 years. Personal friends who have 'departed' at an early age did make strong, lasting and interesting impressions, and not with the benefit of rosy hindsight. One can often wish to see them again, only to find this no longer possible. 'Passing through' might be applicable for such individuals, 'I was. For that I came'.

TP - No, I do not think that a larger brain indicates a form of intentional superiority. Consider some survivors of hydrocephalus whose brain mass is considerably less than that of the general population. Until a scan is made, there is no indication in terms of performance, academic results, behaviour or otherwise that this may even be so. In the same way what would such a view imply for, say, a sperm whale whose brain is some seven times larger than a human's. Species survival seems to be independent of 'computing power', take insects. Speaking of which I've heard that the average home PC has the computing power of a wasp.

TP - The Black Sea to the north is now known to have flooded from the Mediterranean (c4000 BC?). Mesopotamian cities, however, indicate gross inundations of mud (possibly caused by tropical storms in the mountains to the north), notwithstanding the preceding flooding of the continental shelves. The Epic of Gilgamesh (c3000 BC?) appears to have been rewritten for biblical purposes about 500 BC (Ezra?). An interestingly close match in terms of biblical description has been reported to the SSW of Aqaba where a settlement complete with altar carved with depictions of tablets has been postulated, with dating evidence, as the true site of the receipt of the 'Ten Commandments', compared to Mount Sinai. Perhaps God could be subtle too, especially if the Egyptians were after you. After all, what was it that they wanted back so badly? Does anyone recall anything about an old Indian legend that a giant had thrown, from a mountain, the rock that made an island off western Canada(?). Geological evidence showed this to be correct (volcanic eruption) but the time-scale suggested, if this event was indeed witnessed, that human habitation of the continent took place sooner than generally agreed.

WR - Yes, I must admit that there are many animals that I've met that I find more preferable to some human company. Squirrels are cool, but so are pigs, octopi and even cockroaches (cringe!), given their survivability. I can accept that each has its own beauty, if we can but see it. Except slugs, and politicians (?).

YD - The Roman catholic mass was based on Mithraism (presumably to bring the Roman military onboard) and Zoroastrianism. A very close textual version of Psalm 104 can be found in Ai's tomb (c1350 BC some 600 years before the psalms were written) so evocations such as the 'Hail Mary' could well be a much older reference to say a goddess. In this context, one of mercy.
(If I remember correctly, apologies if not; Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death, Amen. Simple changes of names can make it any age.)
At the same time, Isis placing Horus in a basket to save him from Seth is very close to the Moses story.
The Greek church being the first, a British one was well established very soon after, not forgetting the activity in Africa. Much time was spent reconciling differences between the British and Roman churches each perceiving themselves as 'true'. The word catholic means universal.
It is little known that an early christian brought forward to this time would recognise much in a mosque, including the prostration, but little from, say, an Anglican ceremony. At the same time, sites of significance to both Christianity and Islam are still being shared, as they have for hundreds of years. And in the middle of what most would call a 'war-zone'!

Zoran V - Joseph Smith's (Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints) revelations are worth considering in this context perhaps. The Irish built an international airport in the middle of nowhere when a statue of the Virgin reportedly misbehaved(?). Perhaps it is the rapture of the perceiver that should receive closer attention. Artefacts however, real and reported, are interesting.

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