PuffHo touts the afterlife

Read and weep: science says we live on! Click the screenshot:

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 8.59.34 AM

What science tells us:

Here is a brief list of the advantages we can expect if we as a global society begin to pay more attention to these sources.

• Our lives would be seen as “going somewhere” or “adding up to something.” We would grow in confidence that a Source of immense proportions is at the helm of a meaningful soul-building process.

• We would see that life doesn’t end at death, that those cut off early in life would not be denied their share, and that ancestors and their descendants would be reunited.

• We would picture the afterlife in a new way. Most religious people live with notions of a heaven that is static, even boring, with nothing more left to achieve; or vague, with nothing concrete and colorful and beautiful to recommend it. The heavens would be reconceived as a challenging, stimulating, dynamic environment.

Heaven is like college! Read the piece for more new findings about Heaven.


  1. GBJames
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    It is a never-ending wonder how much vacuous nonsense appears in the Religion section of HuffPo.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 4, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      That’s exactly where it belongs (or not at all).

  2. EvolvedDutchie
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    The article was written by Stafford Betty, professor of religious studies. Makes me think Thomas Jefferson was right. Theology has no place on a university.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted June 4, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, I missed that in my haste, and added it to my PuffHo comment!

      • EvolvedDutchie
        Posted June 4, 2016 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        You summed it up nicely. The article on Puffho is really just a sales pitch. I don’t know if you also left the comment below (#14) on the Puffho website, but if you did; I can’t find it. Perhaps Puffho removed it or my browser is acting strange.

    • Posted June 6, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      I don’t about where this person is, but at McGill (and some other Canadian universities) *both* Religious Studies *and* Theology exist. The latter is professional training for clergy, the former the academic study of religions (history, etc.) It seems perhaps that this division should be enforced more carefully, especially wherever Betty is.

      Breaking: CSU Bakersfield? Oh.

  3. yiamcross
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Wosh I could say I feel better for that but I just have a headache after struggling to get halfway through that list of badeless nonsense. How do people fall for this crap? When I think about the time, money, resource and energy wasted on religion I get a bigger headache. So much more could be achieved, so many more benefit and so much needless suffering avoided if religion were to vanish. The same people could be doing more if they weren’t hobbled by the spiritual chains so we’d only gain, not lose.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 4, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      “So much more could be achieved, so many more benefit and so much needless suffering avoided if religion were to vanish.”
      …let us pray.

  4. Historian
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Betty’s “evidence’ for an afterlife is a reference to a book entitled “Science and the Afterlife Experience: Evidence for the Immortality of Consciousness” by one Chris Carter. According to the blurb on Amazon, Carter “examines 125 years of scientific research into reincarnation, apparitions, and communication with the dead showing these phenomena are real.” Betty is on par with a creationist, but apparently because he is a professor of religious studies, it is perfectly fine for him to teach this blithering nonsense. I pity the students in his class.

    • swordfish
      Posted June 5, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      Chris Carter moved on from producing The X-Files to something less believable.

  5. mordacious1
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Wait! What about the virgins? I don’t want to see my dead relatives, I want virgins!

    • noncarborundum
      Posted June 4, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Not to worry. All your female relatives will grow their hymens back in the afterlife. (I’ve heard that in the Islamic heaven, the 72 virgins are constantly growing back their hymens after each sexual episode. Well, they’d have to, wouldn’t they?)

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted June 5, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        Well hey, why not. My guess is they fart chocolates too.

  6. gary
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    The puffho piece is nothing more than an advertisement for a couple of books.

    • Barney
      Posted June 4, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      One of which is his!

      He also can’t keep his story straight …

      “Missing, happily, are those primitive theologies of eternal damnation for some and divinely favored fates for others.

      We would find strong support for the conviction that good actions meet with a happy destiny and selfish or criminal actions with the opposite. This “law of karma” has through the centuries provided the glue that helps societies stay more or less law-abiding, and it is affirmed over and over by spirit sources.”

      California State University, Bakersfield should be ashamed to have such a transparent charlatan as a professor.

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted June 4, 2016 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        I agree. And the University should change his title to: Professor of Woo Woo Studies. That would be more accurate.

        It’s disgusting that this guy is taken seriously and has influence over young minds. There should be no place in any university for such BS. I am appauled.

        A friend of mine, a former Ph.D. candidate in Psycology in a prestigious Canadian University has, lately, been investigating and almost “preaching” a belief in life-after-death. I can hardly stand to be in the same room with him anymore. It’s like he has lost his marbles! And they used to be very bright marbles! What is wrong with people? So sad to see.

        • Claudia Baker
          Posted June 4, 2016 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

          I meant psychology, of course. Look blood sugar. Time for supper…

          • Claudia Baker
            Posted June 4, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Permalink


            Wow, get off the keyboard!

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 4, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

            In that case I won’t tease you about Paul. 😀

            • Claudia Baker
              Posted June 5, 2016 at 4:15 pm | Permalink


  7. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Clearly, the afterlife would be challenging and stimulating because food would be hidden inside puzzle boxes that we would have to open in order to eat. Our environment will be further enriched by the occasional toy left for us to play with.
    Wait, that sounds like zootopia.

  8. Amarnath
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    After-life is touted as giving meaning to our lives. Actually, if I am going to ‘live’ for eternity after I leave this world, what is the point of this life? here and now.

    • ploubere
      Posted June 4, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Sub. That’s why they had to make up the rule that suicide is a game-disqualifying sin.

  9. Herb Hunter
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Some people act as if merely calling something, science, makes it scientific. Someone actually told my brother that it had been scientifically proven that water has feelings.

    • ploubere
      Posted June 4, 2016 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, they want to co-opt the word Science, even though they don’t understand what it means.

  10. Jenny Haniver
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    This insufferably simplistic and revolting appeal to spiritual credulity is surely due to a blast of divine flatus. It’s ridiculous that this man is even teaching in a religious studies department. He needs to join Reza Aslan in some creative writing department, specializing in children’s fiction.

    • Kevin
      Posted June 4, 2016 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. A child’s story. Now I missed how, exactly, that helps anyone in this lifetime.

      Random dreamlands are not a useful motivation for a real life.

  11. Merilee
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 2:39 pm | Permalink


  12. Posted June 4, 2016 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    It’s why I don’t bother with PuffHo or Salon any more. Mainly, I read this… er… site.

  13. Posted June 4, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    You want to talk to me about the afterlife? Fine. Make an appointment with me after we’re dead.

  14. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    It is really a PuffHo piece for a book from the author. With the help of EvolvedDutchie’s comment, I produced the following:


    This is failed wish along the similarly failed wish of ‘deathbed conversions’ which a now revealed buffoon just perpetrated on Hitchens.

    I could really stop there. But to play along: after two references which is not to science fact but a century of superstition whose “findings have been ignored and denied because they are incompatible with [‘materialistic’ science]” and are “attempts”, there is an empty wish list based on nothing but fail. The author of the second reference is not a student of nature, but the author of this article – a Professor of “religious studies”.

    Specifically notable is that ‘near death experiences’ has been shown to be caused by effects of a brain that after narcosis, or sometimes oxygen deprivation, starts to reconnect its disorganized parts again. It is a natural phenomena, with a skewed time perspective, and if anything shows that superstitious speculation has failed miserably. Again.

    Could we please stop with these pitiful attempts to shore up magic superstitious beliefs in invisible, bearded garden fairies? First rule of holes, STOP DIGGING!”

  15. Michael Fisher
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    I LOL’d at his university bio page, the first two items are his rubbish afterlife books: http://www.csub.edu/~sbetty/

    And for extra funz, here’s an extract from his bio over at White Crow Books:

    …published six books, most recently The Afterlife Unveiled (2011) […] Stafford thinks of himself as a Hindu Christian on some days, and a Christian Hindu on others. He has a deep conviction in the reality of spirit beings and worlds and is sympathetic to reincarnation. With his wife he attends the local Anglican church on Sunday mornings while keeping his unorthodox beliefs to himself. He has four sons and a daughter. He bikes to work and swims for exercise, and golf is his hobby

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 4, 2016 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

      Is Cal. State U. @ Bakersfield a public school, i.e., are taxpayers supporting this la-la-lander?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted June 5, 2016 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        CSUB is indeed a public university: http://www.csub.edu/about_csub/mission/index.html

        It’s a new university built on land donated to the state in the 60’s. I also see that students can apply for Stafford loans which are government subsidised in that the government pays all the interest [Stafford loans nothing to do with the Smörgåsbord faith prof. Stafford]

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 5, 2016 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

          Hmmm, seems like someone with standing has to let FFRF in on this.

          Thanks for the info.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted June 6, 2016 at 3:24 am | Permalink

            Probably someone with standing who the FFRF already knows maybe? There’s a name on the tip of my tongue, but when I reach for the name, it runs off in a most cat-like manner.

    • Posted June 4, 2016 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      For some reason, there are those who think swallowing several different and contradictory nonsense pills demonstrates superiority.

      I think they think that in order to tolerate different worldviews, you have to believe all the different worldviews.

      • reasonshark
        Posted June 5, 2016 at 3:11 am | Permalink

        I think they think that in order to tolerate different worldviews, you have to believe all the different worldviews.

        I wonder how that works to begin with, since a mind normally feels discomfort when trying to reconcile contradictory beliefs, hence cognitive dissonance. Are they only pretending to believe, or are they being agnostic in both cases, or are they trying to masochistically show off their ability to withstand any dissonance?

        • steve
          Posted June 5, 2016 at 5:50 am | Permalink

          Any false beliefs of one or more religions held are cancelled out by the true beliefs of one of the other religions’ tenets.

          The coolest part is you don’t have to decide which beliefs are correct because god knows — so no probs!

          It’s sort of like: One crazy person with huge delusions, hallucinations and chanting = a need for psychiatric care.


          Thousands of crazy people with huge delusions, hallucinations and chanting = Okee Dokee — nothing to see here, just a normal Sunday (or choose your sacred day) morning.

        • Posted June 5, 2016 at 8:04 am | Permalink

          I think many prog-lib theists are pretending, yes. I don’t think they’d even admit to themselves that they’re pretending, but what I think they’re really doing is virtue signaling: acknowledging contradictions between different religions gets you perilously close to committing the immoral act (in most prog-lib theists’ view) of saying one is right and the other is wrong.

          Some of the nuttier ones seem to be more sincere about believing contradictory religions, but even in their cases, I think many of them have very idiosyncratic takes on the different religions they’ve embraced.

          (I know a lot of prog-lib theists; as an organist I frequently have to work with them.)

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 5, 2016 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

            Do they know you’re a mole? 😀

            • Posted June 6, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

              Ha! To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of my coworkers have put two and two together. I am very bad at playing along. (Unless you mean playing along with the choir on the organ.)

            • Posted June 6, 2016 at 11:00 am | Permalink

              (Which, I should add, makes it a good thing that I work for a socially progressive and tolerant congregation. They are on the right side of almost every issue aside from the existence of god.)

              • Diane G.
                Posted June 6, 2016 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

                I know a lot of people just like that. And still we often feel we should play along, sigh.

      • Merilee
        Posted June 5, 2016 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        Ya gotta taste ALL the flavors of KoolAid, doncha know😖

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 5, 2016 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        For some reason, there are those who think swallowing several different and contradictory nonsense pills demonstrates superiority.

        Demonstrates one of a number of quite serious failures of the vomit reflexes. That’s an important reflex!

  16. wonderer
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Researchers as diverse as physicians studying the near-death experience and engineers setting up electronic equipment through which the deceased can communicate are the new high priests telling us about what to expect when we die.

    Well DANG!!!

    I’m an electrical engineer. And I want to be one of the new high priests with a deadtalker thingy. Where do I find schematics for the design, and why haven’t I heard about this through trade media? Is it patented?

    My job right now involves development of instrumentation for use by electrical utility workers, working with high voltage. Just think if our next generation product allowed our users to call in dead to work, in the event they get electrocuted.

    “Hey Stan, this is Joe. I’m afraid I left a bit of a mess at the last worksite. Yeah, and I’m afraid I’m going to be taking the rest of the afternoon, well really all of eternity, off due to death.”

    Heck, maybe I should think bigger. There is some serious money to be made here.

  17. Damien McLeod
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Professor Stafford Betty is delusional.

  18. keith cook + / -
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    I can see why he thinks like this. Reality is very hard to handle for some, the truth about life can be as cold and empty as space itself. A cozy story does make it roses in the garden for the faithful. But of course, if he understood the truth as science shows he would be in awe of what is in front of him and not what he thinks he is about to receive after his last breath, moreover, use this as an excuse to better our world to save our sorry arse.
    Understanding how the universe and it’s passengers work is the only way of ‘saving’ anything, that includes from ourselves Mr Betty.

    • reasonshark
      Posted June 5, 2016 at 3:17 am | Permalink

      I wonder if this line of argument – that the afterlife “justifies” real life at all rather than real life justifying itself – is a variation of a “the grass is always greener” philosophy. It’s similar to when someone romanticises faraway countries or treats other cultures as exotic wonders; they daydream about other places to escape from any shortcomings in their current lives.

      If so, it seems an inordinately sad way to waste what little time one already has.

  19. Alpha Neil
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    “Lot’s of things happen after you die – they just don’t involve you.” Louis C.K.

  20. Roger
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Wow sounds like someone wants to fleece the proverbial flocks.

  21. jeffery
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    My dad once said that he figured Heaven was endless sex…..

    • Posted June 4, 2016 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

      Was he Muslim?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 5, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      … but no “happy ending”?

  22. Posted June 4, 2016 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    that’s some mighty strong puff they’re ho-in’ …

  23. Vaal
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I’m always amazed that people who believe in the afterlife, and ghosts, aren’t more terrified of the idea.

    For me, I’d be far more “terrified of the afterlife” than terrified of just dying.
    For one thing: if the monotheisms were correct and hell exists, anyone who has contemplated the possibility of ETERNAL torment should be permanently coiled in a fetal position of fear all day long, praying.

    But even just believing in ghosts – why isn’t this an obvious source of apprehension for anyone who believes in such things when it comes to their own afterlife. I mean, hauntings tell us that we can be stuck in some horrible semi-existing state of affairs, chained to some location, repeating our actions over and over, or trying to make contact. For how long? Eternity? Any significant length of time would seem to be something to dread.

    Or what about just vague ideas that are supposed to be comforting, simply that we continue after death. Ok, what are the details? I’m ok with life, even imperfect as it is, because at least I know what I’m sort of in for. But I have no idea of what to think if I can NEVER DIE and will continue on in some unknown manner in some unknown realm, never able to get off the ride if I want, whether I like it or not.

    Anyone else not find the idea of an eternal afterlife not exactly a consoling thought?

    • Posted June 4, 2016 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

      You’re absolutely right. Per the common refutation of Pascal’s wager (what if you picked the wrong god?), the idea that you will in fact meet a jealous god of one direction or another after death should be incapacitating.

      • Posted June 4, 2016 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

        Direction? I am truly baffled. That was meant to be “sort”.

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 5, 2016 at 12:04 am | Permalink

          Just found out there is such a thing as voice texting, when a birder posted this to one of our list-servs:

          “Done Lynn and semi palmated sandpaper and least sandpaper at the three Oaks ponds”

          (Should have been dunlin and sandpiper. 😀 )

          • rickflick
            Posted June 5, 2016 at 5:34 am | Permalink

            It must be an Early English version. Shake spear and such.

    • reasonshark
      Posted June 5, 2016 at 3:23 am | Permalink

      The “Afterlife Hypothesis” is never a standalone idea; it’s just one component of a wish-fulfilment package deal. Not only is there an afterlife, but it’s a moralistic one that, in many cases, is intimately tied with current supernatural beliefs. It’s essentially a wish-fulfilment vehicle.

      Any critical analysis of it is going to look odd in that context.

      • rickflick
        Posted June 5, 2016 at 5:44 am | Permalink

        Got it. This idea would apply across the board. Take olfaction for example. I wish emitted bodily gasses smell like honeysuckle and tea rose. That’d be part of the package deal. The more I think about it…


  24. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 5, 2016 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    Heaven may or may not be like college, but a lot of TV evangelists are quite a bit like Trump University.

  25. Posted June 5, 2016 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    we are or have souls that do not die at death, is found in all the earth’s religions.

    A religious studies professor cannot think of a religion without a soul/afterlife belief? Really?

    If there were a blaze in front of you, would you know it?’


    ‘If you were asked what made that fire blaze, could you give an answer?’

    ‘I should answer that what made it blaze, was the fuel. […]’

    ‘If the fire went out, would you know it had gone out?’


    ‘If now you were asked in what direction the fire had gone, whether to the east, west, north or south, could you give an answer?’ ‘The answer does not apply.’

    Dat’s ’cause the mind & body are not separate. Thanks, Gautama.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 5, 2016 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      A religious studies professor cannot think of a religion without a soul/afterlife belief? Really?

      He’s from a tradition where the One True Religion is one which has a soul/ afterlife, and his mind is too small (too brainwashed, probably by his parents) to conceive of anything other than the environment he was brought up in.
      It’s a common problem. Exposure to different environments and influences for children is a useful prophylaxis. Which is why many religions are terribly afraid of communication technologies.

      • Posted June 5, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        What weird, though, is that this is a State University, not some podunk Bible college. If a religious studies prof cannot regurgitate the major tenets of mainstream Buddhism… one of the most popular religions on the planet, either he or his program should be done away with. It cannot be a viable religious studies program; it’s a theology department.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 5, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          I understand what you’re saying. But to far too many people “religion” means “my religion.”
          I use the word “people” in one of it’s looser senses – anatomically modern hominid apes, with an approximation to comprehensible speech but extremely limited mental facilities. Frequently found in governments of all political stripes.

  26. friendlypig
    Posted June 6, 2016 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    I’ve already done my research, albeit involuntarily.

    In 1992 I underwent an angiogram, which thankfully, showed that I did not have cardio-vascular disease. Unfortunately during the procedure I experienced a cardiac arrest and had to be jump-started. As the Dr went on to explain my death was temporary, but without the use of a defibrillator it would have been permanent. there was a 40% chance that it would have become permanent.

    Amongst the things that I became aware of are:

    1 – I focus every day on squeezing as much life out of every hour that I can.

    2 – Being dead I was unable to pray – not that I would have done anyway.

    3 – Science achieved what nothing else could.

    4 – Having been dead I can say without fear of contraception (sic) that there is nothing there!

    Have a great day.

  27. Posted June 6, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink


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