Information on the book:

If a treatise on universal theology is to be effective, then an understanding of theology transcending any particular religion or system is necessary. Likewise, if a treatise on life in ‛other worlds’ is to be effective, then a starting point should be an examination of what is to be understood by a ‘world’ and the perception of its objects. Those familiar with Whiteman’s work will not be surprised to find that his third and final volume of Old and New Evidence on the Meaning of Life  presents a radical treatment of these issues. The book follows the pattern of earlier volumes in preparing the reader for new material by covering essential themes that have appeared in earlier work and anticipating some ideas that are to come. This is attempted in a Preface, Prologue, and Part 1, which is entitled “Introductory Studies” – about one-fifth of the book…..

 Part 2 is concerned with “an outlining of a universal theology”. Whiteman stated that

“ the word ‘God’ (Theos) must be taken to stand for the Archetypal Reason in all, including the ‘I AM’ [the knower and doer] and consciousness, if the ancient testimonies are to be understood”. (p.64).   ‘Archetypal’ is to be understood as, for example, the concept  of three where “Any particular three can be seen as derivative, that is, presupposing an archetypal (general, universal) ‘three’.” (p.65). This is effectively the reverse of the system adopted in symbolic logic, “where ‘three’ is defined as the class

of objects making up a threesome in some scene” (p.65)….There would be complete failure to grasp Whiteman’s thinking in not distinguishing between the standard, essentially materialist, system of symbolic logic, centred on the supposed primary presentation of matter located in physical space, and the insightful substructural analysis of phenomenology, which “sees what we normally experience by our physical senses as an end-result” (p.93). Standard thinking could lead to a complete misunderstanding of Whiteman’s theology, in that it might be thought of as speculation, largely physically-based, positing a ‘god of the philosophers and scholars’.

Parts 2 and 3 consist mainly of a review of this kind of theology as exhibited in ancient scriptures, including those of early Christianity.  The beginning of St John’s Gospel is presented as, “Archetypally there was Reason. Reason was with God, and God was Reason…And the Reason became living humanity and was ‘staged’ in us”. (p.66). There need be no conflict between this statement and Indian or Greek thought. Whiteman’s review shows a notable uniformity throughout the Indo-Mediterranean region in ancient times, with an understanding of a discoverable ‘divine potentiality’, one that became all but lost after about the third century CE. This is essential reading for a student of religion, in surveying religious thinking from the Minoan civilization  (c.1600 BCE) to early Christianity.  A key idea is that for the ancient seers, “ ‘God’ would not be a great power ‘up there’ (as many people today might think), but some ‘divine’ state of life actually experienced” (p.131).…

 In Part 4, Life in the Other Worlds, there is a review of the varieties of separative experiences recorded by the author…Generally speaking, evidence for the ‘reality’ of separative experience may be found in the similarity of reports from different people, but the case of ecstatic experiences reported by Whiteman are without parallel…..

 The supplement [“On the mystical derivation of Quantum Theory and physical laws in general”]  is likely to seem the most difficult section of the book – it includes some advanced mathematics – but in time to come it might be held as the most important few pages, since, as he stated in a letter of 11 November 2006, it “opens the door to other worlds of reason and life”. It could be said that this is the major thrust of all three volumes of Old and New Evidence on the Meaning of Life.

Reviewed by Dr John Poynton for the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol 71.3, number 888, July 2007. Pp 167-174

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