Wednesday, March 08, 2006

(72) Paul Kurtz and The Transcendental Temptation

At 11.50 a.m. on August 17th 1991, I visited Bedford Central Library to return two books: The World within The World by Professor John Barrow and The Transcendental Temptation by Professor Paul Kurtz.

I handed in the first at the returning desk and took the other out of my bag, commenting to the librarian that it was a loan from another library and that therefore it should be returned at another desk.

Kurtz was widely regarded as the leading secular humanist philosopher in America and his book is a critique of religion and the paranormal.

He observes that mundane reality and the inevitability of death are too much for most people to cope with, so they fly to the fantasy that there is some hidden dimension to existence: The Transcendental Temptation.

The Bedford library itself had no copy of it.

Another librarian spotted the picture of the author on the back cover and asked if she could look at the book.

She then said that she had seen this man, Kurtz, on The Oprah Winfrey Show two days before.
He had been a guest sceptic pooh-poohing the claims of a group of people who claimed to have experienced some ghostly goings-on.
The librarian mentioned that Winfrey had referred to the book I was returning when introducing Kurtz.

She asked me "But how can you prove anything paranormal?", after I had mentioned that Kurtz is the founder of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP).

"Ask a ghost?" I suggested.
... ... ...
In September 1993, I attended just the final afternoon session of the Third Eurosceptics convention at Keele University.
I had seated myself to listen to a lecture when the door opened and Paul Kurtz came in and took the seat next to me.

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