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— Andrew Weil, M.D., author of the New York Times bestseller Healthy Aging
Foreseeing God in the Laboratory
HOW EVIDENCE FOR DESIGN
SHOWS UP IN PROPHETIC DREAMS
One April day in 2001, the phone in my home office rang. The caller was a man with a charming British accent and a sparkling manner alive with animation and humor, who introduced himself as Chris Robinson. He had read about my lab at the University of Arizona, he said, and was calling to announce that he wanted me to test his abilities to see if I could conclude that he was, indeed, getting tips from some otherworldly source.
After a near-death experience thirteen years earlier, weird messages had begun arriving in his sleep — dreams that foretold the future, especially about murders and terrorism.
Over the years, he said, evidence obtained through his dreams had helped put many criminals behind bars. Because of Robinson's information, murderers who thought they had escaped were caught, IRA bombers were captured, and corrupt members of the police force were uncovered and sent to prison. Fingering corrupt cops and detectives didn't make Christopher popular with British law enforcement, he said. Although they had continued to listen to his information and act on it, he said, he had been kept at arm's length and mistrusted.
I had no reason to think anyone could really do what Christopher was claiming. I listened patiently as he shared stories that were amazing and outrageous. I found most of what he said virtually impossible to believe. He claimed that a book called Dream Detective had been published in England about many of his cases and that he would send me a copy. The book actually arrived, and I found it supported his claims, apparently substantiating his uncanny skill.
I was about to start on a journey on which this total stranger from England would ultimately propel me to reconsider the entire history of my scientific career, and in the process come to new and meaningful conclusions.
We had a series of phone calls after that. Trained in clinical psychology, I listened closely for signs of psychosis or thought disorder. He not only sounded sane but was insisting that he fly over from England if I would conduct tests to verify his claims of dreams that foretold the future. This blue-collar worker with marginal income was offering to buy his own airline ticket and pay for his own hotel and meals if I was willing to try to help him find out, once and for all, what his power really represented.
Over the next weeks Christopher and I discussed a highly controlled yet seemingly impossible (to me, not to Christopher) experiment that begged to be conducted. I realized that if Christopher was neither a delusional schizophrenic nor a pathological liar — these were two big ifs — and the findings were positive, the experiment held the possibility of becoming one of the more remarkable investigations in the history of contemporary parapsychology, and perhaps even of science in general. I subsequently learned that Christopher could be unreasonably suspicious at times — no doubt because of his dangerous work as an undercover agent and his extraordinary sensitivity as a psychic.
Four months later, in early August 2001, Christopher arrived from England and set up temporary residence in a Tucson hotel. I had by then selected twenty possible locations in southern Arizona — from Nogales, a Mexican border town, to Summerhaven, a ski resort on the top of Mount Lemmon. Of these twenty locations known only to me, ten would be selected at random for us to visit on ten successive days.
I printed out the name of each site on a sheet of paper, placed each sheet in a separate envelope, sealed the envelopes, and shuffled them, then shipped them overnight to my friend and coauthor Bill Simon, who had agreed to help in the experiment. He acted as an intermediary, receiving the package and turning it over to a third party whose identity was unknown to me.
The third party was instructed to open the package, shuffle the envelopes, number them, and store them in a safe place; all of this was to be done in front of a video camera.
For thirteen years Chris Robinson had been recording his nightly dreams and premonitions in a diary — his "dream diary." Since the previous May, anticipating the experiment that he and I had been discussing, Chris recorded his dreams for ten nights about what he thought he would do and see on each day in Tucson. He repeated this ten-night pre-experimental dream sequence in June and again in July. When he arrived in Tucson in early August, he brought the three sets of ten-day dream diaries with him. I read the diary with its predictions, still believing this part of the experiment to be preposterous and fully expecting that nothing would come of it. Even by my adventurous standards, it simply seemed impossible that he could have guessed locations anything like the ones we would visit on each day of the experiment.
THE "TEN DAYS IN ARIZONA" EXPERIMENT
In his hotel across the street from the University of Arizona, Christopher got ready for bed on the night before the first day of our experiment. Before falling asleep, he would ask the universe, in his head, to be shown in his dreams where he would be taken the next day.
As was his ritual, when he awoke, he wrote careful notes in his diary about the dreams he'd had, often including sketches or diagrams. On the first morning — Thursday, August 2, 2001 — the experiment officially began when I arrived, about 9 A.M. As we said our good mornings, I set up my digital video camera and videotaped the pages Christopher had written, while he read the raw information out loud onto the audio track. On camera, he then summarized the key information from the three pre-experiment dreams for that day. After that, he described the previous night's dreams. And then, the key part, he concluded by summarizing from the dreams his description of things he believed we would see or experience during that one day.
On the first day, Robinson focused on "holes, lots of holes," along with "a basin empty of water." With the camera still running, I then placed a call to Bill Simon in southern California to tell him we were ready to learn the location for the day. Bill then contacted the third party. (He didn't have to go far; I would learn after the experiment that this mysterious third party was Bill's wife, Dr. Arynne Simon.) With her video camera running, she opened the envelope that was at the top of the stack after her shuffle, which she had marked as Envelope #1. She read out loud what was written on the paper: "Desert Museum/Animals." She showed the paper to the camera and to Bill, who then called me back and told me the location.
I did not tell Christopher where we would be going, nor did I tell Bill what Christopher had dreamed. But I knew the desert museum well: a place with a huge variety of holes, ranging from human caves and large animal cages in the ground to prairie dog tunnels in every direction. Even before Christopher and I packed our assorted video and still cameras and began to drive out of Tucson in the direction that would take us to the museum, I knew that his prediction of "holes, lots of holes" was a remarkably apt description of the landscape of the museum. Also, the museum was located in a basin that millions of years ago had been an ocean.
Christopher's dreams for each day included information not just about the site but also about objects and events on the journey to the location. Hence we carefully monitored the journeys as well as the sites.
For example, on Day 2, Christopher said that the primary themes of his dreams were "shops and workshops . . . fabricating things . . . metal." The secret message in the envelope for that day sent us to Tubac, an artists' colony, to a specific shop displaying metal sculptures, and with a workshop in the back. On Day 4, Christopher said that the primary themes of his dreams were "suns, mirrors, LCDs, telescopes, Mount Olympus [after his 35 mm camera], airplanes, hangars, a pitched propeller." The site for the day was Kitt Peak National Observatory, situated on a mountaintop and housing the world's largest solar telescope. Returning, we stopped for lunch at one of the only places available on that mountain road — a general aviation airport, where we of course saw hangars; as decoration, the airport restaurant featured prominently out front a large pitched propeller!
The post-location information was extra — not part of the main experiment. However, it turned out that the "extra" information was also extra in the sense of being truly "extra-ordinary." The late Carl Sagan was fond of saying, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Sagan's slogan, which has become one of the mantras of my Human Energy Systems Laboratory, occurred to me often during those ten days.
It turned out that there were degrees of extra-ordinariness in the findings from this ten-day experiment. The results every day proved extraordinary, but some days proved to be beyond extraordinary; I want to share with you two in particular — chosen partly because they are typical, partly because they are profound, and partly because some of the story is playful.
A REPRESENTATIVE DAY — FROM THE BORDER
TO THE "SPIRIT OF GOD"
Day 5 started with Christopher listing the highlights from his previous night's dreams, informed by observations from his prior Day 5 dreams collected at his home in May, June, and July.
He had dreamed of men holding up traffic. This scene was set somewhere near a border, he said, taking for granted it was the Mexican border, not far from Tucson. He also saw a large water or gas tank. He had dreamed of boats, many boats, and of a car with four flat tires. He had written in his dream journal that the car had no "oil" and then he added "mineral oil." He also saw an embassy in London.
He dreamed of tires piled high along a chain-link fence, and had drawn a picture of the tires and fence in his diary. He dreamed of my needing to use a credit card to get into a store or building. He also saw loads of umbrellas. And something about the "Spirit of God."
As I listened to this jumbled laundry list of items, I wondered: would the envelope, when it was opened, reveal that we were going to the Mexican town of Nogales — one of the twenty locations I had provided? It would fit many of the fundamentals in the dreams — men holding up traffic, border, water tanks, boats (people haul boats back and forth to Mexican beach towns), cars with flat tires, old tires along fences, umbrellas.
After all the information was recorded, I called to say I was ready to know the location. Bill called back a few minutes later to announce, "Gary, you're going to 'the old gem and mineral store.'"
From the first, I had not expected Christopher to get anything right beyond a few lucky guesses. The previous four days had been eye openers — his predictions had been remarkably on target. But it was too much to expect that winning streak to continue, and when I heard the location, it was clear that this fifth day was going to break his string of home runs. I reviewed in my mind the things Christopher had described, and couldn't come up with a single thing that we might see at the gem and mineral store, or that we might see on the way there or back.
Of course, I didn't tell Christopher what I was thinking. Moreover, following the experimental protocol, I did not tell Christopher where we were going.
Off we went. After about ten miles, as we passed an area of homes and a shopping mall surrounded by multiarmed cacti reaching twenty or more feet in the air, Christopher called my attention to some men on a side street, holding up traffic. He asked, "Are we near the Mexican border?"
"No," I told him. "We're more than forty miles from the border."
"Are you sure?" he asked. "My dream was very specific that men would be holding up cars near a border."
I said, "Christopher, trust me — the Mexican border is far from here." But to humor him, I maneuvered to see what was causing the tie-up. Workmen holding up traffic are commonplace enough; I simply assumed that this was not evidential. I was wrong.
We discovered there was construction work being done on the road. Beyond the work crew, I spotted a large water tank. And much to my amazement, the tank bore a painted sign that read "Borderland."
Borderland! We were not near an actual border, but we had encountered the word, in large, hard-to-miss lettering. Was I stretching the evidence to make the dreams fit the circumstances? Quite possibly, I reminded myself.
A bit farther on, a pickup truck went by us, pulling a boat on a trailer. Moments later we passed a boat storage yard. As I made a turn onto the street of the gem and mineral store, we saw eight more boats stored near the roadway. That's a lot of boats in the desert, I thought to myself.
We reached the gem and mineral store, and sitting on the right side of the parking lot, I am almost too embarrassed to admit, was a car with four flat tires! I couldn't believe it.
Christopher got all excited. He screamed, "Gary, this is just like how I dreamt it. In my dream I was able to walk right up to the tires and touch them." I took pictures of Christopher touching the flat tires.
Christopher had dreamed of some connection between the car and an embassy. The car with the flat tires turned out to be an old Rambler Ambassador. Embassy, ambassador. Another stretch? The car, obviously not driven for years, clearly had no oil — and obviously no "mineral" oil (though it was parked in front of a gem and mineral store).
But none of Christopher's other items connected. We did not see tires piled along a chain-link fence. I did not need a credit card to enter the store. There were no umbrellas at the location. And I did not see anything that suggested a "Spirit of God" connection.
We returned to Christopher's hotel and checked off what information in his dream was related to the journey and the location, and what was not. My expectation that the gem and mineral store would not connect with any of his dream clues was clearly wrong — he did much better than I expected. However, he obviously had not been perfect. The experiment was officially over for the day. But now is when the story gets even weirder. Yet it's all true — it really happened, and it's recorded on videotape.
FINDING THE "SPIRIT OF GOD" AT COSTCO?
I discovered that I was running out of videotapes for my mini DV camera, and Christopher was running out of them for his camera as well. I had one hour of free time before I was due at the laboratory, and suggested to Christopher that I take him to a store where we could purchase videotapes in bulk. Ever flexible, Christopher said, "Sure, let's go."
I took him to Costco, a huge discount store that typically sells products in large volume. To get in, I had to show my Costco membership card. Christopher tried to claim another hit: "Look, Gary, just like my dream predicted — you need a credit card to get into a store!" I thought to myself, This is probably because he already mentioned that I would be using a credit card for this purpose, and it unconsciously affected my choice of where we would come to buy the tapes. I dismissed the observation as mere suggestion.
As we were ready to leave, Christopher said, "Gary, I'm hungry. Can we get something to eat?" I explained that I had to get to an appointment at the lab, and we would have time only if we grabbed something quickly. Christopher said, "Sure, let's eat here." At the Costco fast food counter, I bought him a chicken and cheese sandwich, and I sat down with him to wait while he ate. And my world turned upside down. Christopher pointed off to his right and said, "Look, Gary . . ." There, clear as day, were piles of tires placed along a chain-link fence, just as he had drawn them in his dream journal.
I was wide-eyed. But there was more. He smiled and gestured all around us. Seemingly everywhere were large umbrellas. There we were, sitting inside a huge building around plastic outdoor tables with huge shade umbrellas, at least fifteen of them. I stared at these umbrellas in disbelief.
And then I noticed that there was writing on the umbrellas. A company had seen fit to decorate them with advertising. What I read on those umbrellas that day I will remember for the rest of my life. The advertising was the slogan for Hebrew National hot dogs: "We answer to a Higher Authority." And Christopher had predicted we would encounter something about the "Spirit of God."
Christopher's dreams had told him not only that we would be visiting a place that would have a car with four flat tires (an obviously highly specific and unique piece of information) and no oil, but that I would be taking us to a store requiring my (credit) card to enter. And that store had finally brought us face-to-face with "We answer to a Higher Authority."
Give me a break! My mind boggled in confusion and conflict; from the observations, I began to understand what spiritual people mean when they say, "There are no coincidences." How could Christopher know these things?
A skeptic once said to the distinguished anthropologist Margaret Mead, "These are the kind of data I wouldn't believe even if they were true!" I recalled this phrase as I wondered what else could possibly happen in the remaining five days of this experiment. What actually happened was beyond anything I could have predicted.
Copyright ©2006 by Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D.
PrologueCan Science Take Us to God?
Part One: THE SCIENCE OF PROPHECY
1. Foreseeing God in the LaboratoryHow Evidence for Design Shows Up in Prophetic Dreams2. Discovering Intelligent Design in Our LivesA Stunning Conclusion to an Extraordinary Psychic Experiment
Part Two: SIMPLE G.O.D. EXPERIMENTS
3. K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple ScienceSand Paintings Never Occur by Chance4. G.O.D in the ComputerHow Your Personal Computer Can Teach You About God
Part Three: CAN YOU COMMUNICATE WITH G.O.D.?
5. Talking to an Intelligent Black BoxHow Science Fiction Sometimes Provides a Key to Reality6. I Asked the Universe a QuestionG.O.D. Is Revealed in the Hidden Details7. I Asked the Universe More QuestionsThe Answer Sparkles Like a Diamond8. Interesting and Amusing TheoriesA Physicist Concludes, "It's Absolutely Worth Thinking About."
Part Four: THE GREAT G.O.D. DEBATE
9. Chance Versus Intelligent Design -- Which Is It?What Is the Great G.O.D. Debate, and How Can It Be Resolved?10. Can G.O.D. Play Dice with the Universe?Einstein Was Right: The Answer Is "No"Interlude: The "Divine Proportion"Why G.O.D. Is a Mathematician11. Why Science Shaves with Ockham's RazorSimple Predictions That Radically Transform Our Minds
Part Five: IMPLICATIONS OF G.O.D. FOR EVERYTHING
12. Who Are We and Why Are We Here?Your Mind Is Bigger Than the Entire Universe13. Evidence-Based FaithA New Way of Marrying Science and Spirit14. Implications of Intelligent Evolution for SocietyBringing G.O.D. to Science, Education, Medicine, Business, Law, Politics, and Religion15. The Organizing MindNew Discoveries Show How the Mind Organizes Matter16. Wisdom in the StarsIs the Universe Not Only Intelligent But Wise?17. The Genius Within EveryoneWhy Universal Organizing Consciousness Exists in Everything18. Summing up the G.O.D. Experiments -- The Emerging Case for Intelligent EvolutionSeeing the Big Picture, and Never Forgetting ItEpilogueInfinite Love: The Ultimate Gift from G.O.D.?
APPENDIX A: A Review and Study Guide for Teachers and the Rest of Us
APPENDIX B: Frequently Asked Questions and Some Critical Answers
APPENDIX C: Extraordinary Synchronicity in New York City
Posted January 11, 2010
No text was provided for this review.
Posted September 27, 2010
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Posted January 17, 2010
No text was provided for this review.