Written byDr Andrew Silverman. Foreword by Daniel Langsman

STRANGELY THOUGHT-PROVOKING

Gunnel Minett

Park Street Press, 2020, 210 pp., £10.65 p/b – ISBN-13: 978-162055-963-5

The best way to read this book is probably not to try to work out what the theme of it is. As the title indicates, it covers three major topics; Near-death Experiences, The Shroud of Turin and the Limitless Potential of Humanity. Two of them, Near-death Experiences and the Limitless Potential of Humanity, are fairly obvious to connect with the limits of human potential. It is more difficult to grasp how the Turin Shroud fits in this theme of the book. 

Nevertheless the chapters on the Turin Shroud are written by someone with an extensive knowledge of the subject and with great detail. So for anyone interested in finding out more about the findings reported by scientists who have had the opportunity to study this piece of cloth and its inexplicable pattern, this may be enough in itself to read the book. The Turin Shroud is a piece of cloth with a strange pattern indicating that it has been wrapped around a body, shortly after the person had died from multiple injuries, similar to stab wounds (or nails driven into the flesh). The cloth is assumed to be around 2000 years old and from the middle East. The study of the Turin Shroud has fascinated the author from an early age. Consequently he has become an expert on the subject and presented the topic at several conferences. 

A puzzling feature here is that despite the fact that the author emphasises that he is presenting scientific evidence (rather than religious or mystical material), he does not seem to question the story of the crucifixion of Jesus (which in itself has no scientific backing). It is also slightly surprising that the author uses the Turin Shroud as an example of what he calls the Limitless Potential of Humanity. Although not expressed exactly, the author is drawing a parallell between the extremely strong (and inexplicable) light that is assumed to have imprinted the cloth and what he calls the limitlessness of human potential. 

From the Turin Shroud the author moves on to quantum theory to explain consciousness, time, space, matter and why they exist. He also discusses Near-Death Experiences, and how they contribute to the explanations of the limitless of human potentials. (“The Universe and the Mind’s ‘I’”) He refers to NDE research by, for instance, neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick which indicates that death is not ‘the end’. (“You Have No beginning or End”). Silverman also looks at the existence of time, asking what we are and presents a Time-Mind-Space-Matter-Contiunuum during a discussion of ‘Here and Now’. 

The underlying assumption of Silverman’s book is that consciousness is fundamental and not merely a product of the brain. Human consciousness cannot be reduced to a version of artificial intelligence. A computer can build a knowledge base. But this is not the same as being aware of this knowledge, which requires consciousness. Nor can it be replaced by any form of man-made software, regardless of how advanced, as some of the prominent consciousness scholars argue. 

Even if the topics in the book may seem to be an unusual combination, when it comes to discussing human potential it is very thought provoking. Perhaps not to be seen as course-literature, but rather a book to bring on holiday or use as an inspiration in a book club discussion. The book would have benefited from better editing. Even if the issue of linear time is brought into question in the book, it does not help that the author jumps back and forth between the arguments.

Park Street Press, 2020,  ISBN-13: 978-162055-963-5

https://www.innertraditions.com/imprints/park-street-press