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Latest consciousness theory: Rocks have minds?

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File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Remember, we were talking recently about how researchers are seeking a compromise between materialist and non-materialist views of consciousness, principally because materialist theory has gone nowhere for centuries? You can be darn sure these people wouldn’t be offering a compromise if there was any hope at all of materialism/naturalism ever working.

Now there’s this, from the New York Times, ”Mind of a Rock”:

And the part of our world that is most recalcitrant to our understanding at the moment is consciousness itself. How could the electrochemical processes in the lump of gray matter that is our brain give rise to — or, even more mysteriously, be — the dazzling technicolor play of consciousness, with its transports of joy, its stabs of anguish and its stretches of mild contentment alternating with boredom? This has been called “the most important problem in the biological sciences” and even “the last frontier of science.” It engrosses the intellectual energies of a worldwide community of brain scientists, psychologists, philosophers, physicists, computer scientists and even, from time to time, the Dalai Lama.

So vexing has the problem of consciousness proved that some of these thinkers have been driven to a hypothesis that sounds desperate, if not downright crazy. Perhaps, they say, mind is not limited to the brains of some animals. Perhaps it is ubiquitous, present in every bit of matter, all the way up to galaxies, all the way down to electrons and neutrinos, not excluding medium-size things like a glass of water or a potted plant. Moreover, it did not suddenly arise when some physical particles on a certain planet chanced to come into the right configuration; rather, there has been consciousness in the cosmos from the very beginning of time.

So instead of nothing is mind, the latest proposal is, everything is. Hush, listen when your coffee cup is talking … 😉

39 Replies to “Latest consciousness theory: Rocks have minds?

  1. 1
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In my part of the world, 2007 does not count as “now”. (C’mon, News can’t even be bothered to look at the date on the articles it links to?)

  2. 2
    Mapou says:

    Consciousness obviously requires a knower and a known, a subject and an object. The two are necessarily complementary opposites. In other words, that which is known cannot know and that which knows cannot be known. This is true by definition.

    Unless materialists can identify what constitutes the knower and the known in a rock, they’re just spitting in the wind and making fools of themselves.

  3. 3
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Consciousness obviously requires a knower and a known, a subject and an object. The two are necessarily complementary opposites. In other words, that which is known cannot know and that which knows cannot be known. This is true by definition.

    I don’t think that’s true, let alone true “by definition” (whatever that means). It is true that ordinary consciousness in normal mature human beings has an subject-pole and an object-pole, but must that be true of all consciousness, just as such? Some kinds of powerful psychedelic drugs collapse the subject/object distinction, and Zen satori also collapses that distinction (from what I’ve been told). Yet achieving satori is not like going into a coma.

    Unless materialists can identify what constitutes the knower and the known in a rock, they’re just spitting in the wind and making fools of themselves.

    For one thing, panpsychism is not materialism. Did you not read the article News linked to?

    For another, the pragmatic naturalist regards the knower-known relation as a special case of the organism-environment relation. Still not panpsychist, though. I could go so far as “biological panpsychism”: life is a necessary and sufficient condition for mind. Going beyond that to the full position is a bridge too far for me, but maybe I just lack empathy for boulders.

  4. 4
    tarmaras says:

    Actually, as crazy as this hypothesis may sound, and born of desperation as it is, this is not at all original. In the Vedanta schools of philosophy the overarching presence of consciousness is discussed in minute details.

    One such detail is that, on the Absolute platform/dimension, everything is “made” of consciouss particles and resides within the conscious awareness of the supreme consciousness — Paramatma, the soul of all souls. The inconceivable, simultaneous oneness and difference between the Paramatma (God) and the atmas (the souls) is somewhat complex discussion but, for those interested, you can google “acintya bhedhabedha tattva”)).

    Anyway, the spiel in Vedanta philosophy, is that altough a soul has the eternal capacity to be conscious, to will and to enjoy, it can temporarily lose its conscious awareness (of its own choice) and act as a “prop” for the creation of the material world, the world of unconscious objects that would be used by souls leaving the Absolute dimension (where everyting is fully conscious — imagine a conscious river that you need to have a relationship with in order to cross it); for souls with exploitative curiosities (born out of free choice), the material world is perfect, since it is full of things to exploit, that is use for your own satisfaction, without a conscious relation to the Source, the Supraconsciousness.

    So, to conclude, this hypothesis has already been developed in Vedanta philosophy and, compared with the other one — in which everything is unconscious, it is much more promising. So, kudos for that…

  5. 5
    DinoV says:

    When the materialist can no longer deny the influence, at the end of the explanatory chain, of an unembodied mind – the new talking point evolves into “Ok, so then everything has a mind”. – the dog and pony show absolutely must continue to proceed no matter what the evidence actually reflects.

  6. 6
    Barb says:

    “a hypothesis that sounds desperate, if not downright crazy.”

    I’d say they skipped desperation and went straight to downright crazy, with stops along the way at ridiculous and stupid.

    Does this mean that eventually peer-reviewed papers will appear on what rocks dream about?

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Quantum mechanics gives us compelling evidence that consciousness precedes material reality. Moreover, due to advances in Quantum mechanics, the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect):
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    The following site is very interesting and adds an unexpected intersecting line of evidence to the preceding evidence:

    The Scale of The Universe – Part 2 – interactive graph (recently updated in 2012 with cool features)
    http://htwins.net/scale2/scale.....olor=white

    The preceding interactive graph points out that the smallest scale visible to the human eye (as well as a human egg) is at 10^-4 meters, which ‘just so happens’ to be directly in the exponential center of all possible sizes of our physical reality (not just ‘nearly’ in the exponential center!). i.e. 10^-4 is, exponentially, right in the middle of 10^-35 meters, which is the smallest possible unit of length, which is Planck length, and 10^27 meters, which is the largest possible unit of ‘observable’ length since space-time was created in the Big Bang, which is the diameter of the universe. This is very interesting for, as far as I can tell, the limits to human vision (as well as the size of the human egg) could have, theoretically, been at very different positions than directly in the exponential middle;

    Verse:

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    Thus, although a material rock is not conscious, nor does it have a free will, I did write an essay on finding truth in a rock (and truth) a while back. An essay that revealed some rather unique insights to me personally in my process of writing it. And here it is:

    What Is Truth?

    John 18:38
    “What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.

    The preceding verse happens, as far as I know, to be the verse on the oldest fragment of the New Testament discovered thus far:

    The Oldest Known Fragment Of The New Testament – Serendipitous Gospel – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyfR0AsRaX4

    To varying degrees everyone looks for truth. A few people back in the 60’s, such as the Beatles, went so far as to travel to distant lands seeking gurus in their quest to find “Truth”. People are happy when they discover a new truth into the mysteries of life. People who have deep insights into the truth of how things actually work are considered wise. In the bible Jesus says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” So, since truth is considered such a good thing, let us look for truth in a common object; a simple rock.
    Few people would try to argue that a rock is not real. Someone who would argue that it is not real could bang his head on the rock until he was satisfied the rock is real.
    A rock is composed of three basic ingredients; energy, force and ‘truth’. From Einstein’s famous equation (e=mc2) we know that all matter (all solids, liquids and gases) of the universe are ultimately made up of energy and therefore the entire rock can “hypothetically” be reduced to energy.

    E=mc2: Einstein explains his famous formula – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CC7Sg41Bp-U

    This energy is “woven” by various complex, unchanging, transcendent, universal forces into the atoms of the rock. The amount of energy woven by these complex interactions of various, unchanging, universal forces into the rock is tremendous. This tremendous energy that is somehow constrained within a rock is clearly demonstrated by the detonation of nuclear bombs.

    Atomic Bomb Explosion – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-22tna7KHzI

    6.4 mg of mass converted to energy in Hiroshima A-bomb
    4,400,000 Hiroshima A-bombs equivalent to one ounce of mass
    1 drop of water equivalent to 10 Hiroshima A-bombs
    Entire energy consumption of America, for 1 year, equivalent to 1 bowling ball
    52 X 10^55 Hiroshima bombs equivalent at ‘Big Bang’

    Big Bang
    After its (The Big Bang’s) initial expansion from a singularity, the Universe cooled sufficiently to allow energy to be converted into various subatomic particles, including protons, neutrons, and electrons.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang

    This ‘woven energy’ is found in each and every individual “particle” of every atom, in the trillions upon countless trillions of atoms in the rock. While energy can be said to be what gives “substance” to the rock, energy in and of itself is a “non-solid” entity. In fact, it is the unchanging, transcendent, universal constants/forces, which are ‘unseen’, that tell the energy exactly where to be and what to do in the rock, and are what can be said to be the ONLY solid, uncompromising “thing” in the rock.
    The last part of this following video, starting at the 5:09 minute mark, has some excellent photographs of atoms that gets this ‘non-solid’ point of the energy/matter of a rock across, as well as giving a tiny glimpse of where the universal constants, constraining the tremendous energy in a rock, come into play.

    Uncertainty Principle – The ‘Uncertain Non-Particle’ Basis Of Material Reality – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109172

    ,,,Yet there is another ingredient which went into making the atoms of the rock besides the universal constants/forces and matter/energy. An ingredient that is often neglected to be looked at as a “real” component of the rock. It is the transcendent and spiritual component of truth. If truth did not exist the rock would not exist. This is as obvious as the fact that the rock would not exist if energy and/or unchanging force did not exist. It is the truth in and of the logical laws of the interrelated unchanging forces of the universal constants that govern the energy in the rock that enable the rock to be a rock in the first place.
    Is truth independent and dominant of the energy and force? Yes of course, there are many philosophical truths of reason that are not dependent on energy or force for them to still be true (for example the Law of Non-Contradiction). Yet energy and unchanging force are precisely subject to what the unchanging “truth” tells them they can and cannot do in the rock. To put it another way, the rock cannot exist without truth yet truth can exist independently of the rock. Since truth clearly dictates what energy and/or unchanging force can or cannot do, it follows that truth dominates energy and unchanging force. Energy and unchanging force do not dominate truth. It is also obvious that truth is omnipresent in this universe. That is to say, the truth that is in the rock on this world is the same truth that is in a rock on the other side of the universe on another world. Thus, truth is present everywhere at all times in this universe (Indeed, Science would be extremely difficult, to put it very mildly, if this uniformity of truth, for all of nature, were not so). It has also been scientifically proven, by quantum non-locality, that whenever something becomes physically “true” (wave collapse of entangled electron, photon) in any part of the universe, this “truth” is instantaneously communicated anywhere/everywhere in the universe to its corresponding “particle”.

    Light and Quantum Entanglement Reflect Some of the Characteristics Of God – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4102182

    Thus, truth is “aware” of everything that goes on in the universe instantaneously. This universal, instantaneous, awareness of a transcendent truth also gives truth the vital characteristic of being omniscient (All knowing). This instantaneous communication of truth to all points in the universe also happens to defy the speed of light; a “truth” that energy and even the unchanging force of gravity happen to be subject to (I believe all fundamental forces are shown to be subject to this “truth’ of the speed of light). This scientific proof of ‘instantaneous’ quantum non-locality also proves that truth is not a “passive” component of this universe. Truth is actually scientifically demonstrated, by quantum non-locality (and quantum teleportation), to be the “active” dominant component of this universe. Thus, truth is not a passive set of rules written on a sheet of paper somewhere. Truth is the “living governor” of this universe that has dominion over all other components of this universe and is not bound by any of the laws that “truth” has subjected all the other components of the universe to. Truth is, in fact, a tangible, independent, entity that enables and dictates this universe to exist in a overarching non-chaotic form so as to enable it to exist in the first place. This “Truth”, which is shown not to be subject to time in any way, shape, or form, by quantum non-locality, has also demonstrated foresight and purpose in the extreme fine-tuning for this temporal universe and, as such, can be said to be “alive” from the fact that a “decision” had to be made from the timeless/spaceless dimension, that ‘Truth’ inhabits, in order for this temporal reality to become real in the first place.

    “The Big Bang represents an immensely powerful, yet carefully planned and controlled release of matter, energy, space and time. All this is accomplished within the strict confines of very carefully fine-tuned physical constants and laws. The power and care this explosion reveals exceeds human mental capacity by multiple orders of magnitude.”
    Prof. Henry F. Schaefer –

    What Properties Must the Cause of the Universe Have? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SZWInkDIVI

    i.e. ‘Truth’ is a major characteristic of the necessary Being, “uncaused cause”, the Alpha, that created all reality/realities that can possibly exist.

    Well, lets see what we have so far; Truth is eternal (it has always existed and will always exist); Truth is omnipresent (it is present everywhere in the universe at all times); Truth is omnipotent (it has dominion over everything else in the universe, yet is not subject to any physical laws); Truth has a vital characteristic of omniscience (truth is apparently instantaneously aware of everything that is happening in the universe and makes appropriate adjusments); and Truth is alive (Truth has created a temporal universe from a reality that is not subject to any physical laws of time or space for the express purpose of creating life; (fine-tuning) Surprisingly, being eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, and alive are the foundational characteristics that are used by theologians to describe God. Thus, logically speaking, spiritual/transcendent truth emanates directly from God and is coexistent with the Character of His Being. So in answer to our question “What is Truth?” we can answer that ‘Truth’, as far as the scientific method is concerned, is God.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Now to bring all this into the focus of the Christian perspective, Jesus says that He is “The Truth, the Way and The Life”. And in regards to what is currently revealed in our scientific knowledge, I would have to say say that this is a VERY, VERY fantastic claim to make (at least to me personally)! If Jesus is speaking the truth, which I believe He is, then by the rules of logic this makes Jesus equivalent to God Almighty. Well,,, Is Jesus God??? Well, believe it or not, there actually is now some fairly strong scientific evidence that gives a very credible, and very persuasive, indication that the number one problem in physics and mathematics today, of reconciling General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics into a ‘Theory of everything’, finds a very credible resolution in the resurrection of Jesus Christ,, and in my book, if Christ truly is the elusive “Theory of Everything” then means that Jesus Christ is God i.e. The Jesus Christ is “The Truth” just as He claimed to be!

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Very Credible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics – notes
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US

    Verses and Music:

    Matthew 28:18
    And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

    Natalie Grant – Alive (Resurrection music video)
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=KPYWPGNX
    Lyric from song: “Death has lost and love has won!”

    Matthew 16:16-18
    And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
    And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
    And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    Solid Rock – the 5th service band Featuring TRU-SERVA – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4jD70Y-mQ0

  9. 9
    Mapou says:

    KN:

    I don’t think that’s true, let alone true “by definition” (whatever that means). It is true that ordinary consciousness in normal mature human beings has an subject-pole and an object-pole, but must that be true of all consciousness, just as such? Some kinds of powerful psychedelic drugs collapse the subject/object distinction, and Zen satori also collapses that distinction (from what I’ve been told). Yet achieving satori is not like going into a coma.

    It is certainly true by definition, unless you want to play with semantics. Opposites are complementary by definition.

    Some kinds of powerful psychedelic drugs collapse the subject/object distinction, and Zen satori also collapses that distinction (from what I’ve been told). Yet achieving satori is not like going into a coma.

    Nothing can collapse the subject/object distinction. Nothing can be its own opposite. That’s nonsensical. The object is never “out there” to begin with. It resides in one or more areas of the brain. Everything you consciously experience is in your brain.

  10. 10
    Mapou says:

    By the way, this belief in inanimate consciousness is not really a new idea. Isaac Asimov was writing about Gaia consciousness decades ago. There were others before him. It’s all superstition though.

  11. 11
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    It is certainly true by definition, unless you want to play with semantics. Opposites are complementary by definition.

    Now I’m not sure what we’re arguing about. Was your claim

    (1) there cannot be self-consciousness without consciousness of an object

    or

    (2) there cannot be any consciousness that is not both self-consciousness and consciousness of an object.

    I agree with (1) but not with (2). I don’t think that (1) is true ‘by definition’, though there is a very powerful argument for it — what Kant called “the transcendental deduction of the categories”. And I certainly don’t think that (2) is true, let alone “by definition”.

    Nothing can collapse the subject/object distinction. Nothing can be its own opposite. That’s nonsensical. The object is never “out there” to begin with. It resides in one or more areas of the brain. Everything you consciously experience is in your brain.

    By “the subject/object distinction,” I was referring to the structure of consciousness as having a subject-pole and an object-pole. If you think that nothing can affect consciousness in such a way as to collapse that structure, you clearly haven’t taken mushrooms. (Or enough, anyway.)

    And I must strongly protest the thought that “the object is never ‘out there’ to begin with”. What I consciously perceive is part of the world, and what’s going in my brain is part of the causal process that explains how I experience it.

    (By ‘perceive,’ I distinguish perceiving from, say, dreaming or hallucinating. I take it that only someone deep in the grip of Cartesian skepticism would assert that they can’t distinguish between these kinds of conscious experience.)

  12. 12
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    By the way, this belief in inanimate consciousness is not really a new idea. Isaac Asimov was writing about Gaia consciousness decades ago. There were others before him. It’s all superstition though.

    Panpsychism is actually a very old idea. Leibniz defended panpsychism in the 17th century. The article that News linked to above (which apparently only I read, so far) is about the resurgence of panpsychism in contemporary philosophy of mind with Thomas Nagel, David Chalmers, and Galen Strawson.

  13. 13
    Mapou says:

    KN, I’m sorry that I cannot continue with this discussion. Preaching in the wilderness is not my thing.

  14. 14
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    KN, I’m sorry that I cannot continue with this discussion. Preaching in the wilderness is not my thing.

    I’m sorry you feel that way — I was beginning to enjoy the conversation. But I’ll respect your choice.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Has Science Shown That We Evolved from Ape-like Creatures? by Casey Luskin – Fall 2013
    Excerpt: A closer look at the literature shows that hominin fossils generally fall into one of two categories—ape-like species or human-like species (of the genus Homo)—and that there is a large, unbridged gap between them. Despite the claims of many evolutionary paleoanthropologists, the fragmented hominin fossil record does not document the evolution of humans from ape-like precursors. In fact, scientists are quite sharply divided over who or what our human ancestors even were. Newly discovered fossils are often initially presented to the public with great enthusiasm and fanfare, but once cooler heads prevail, their status as human evolutionary ancestors is invariably called into question. –
    http://salvomag.com/new/articl.....atures.php

  16. 16
    Robert Byers says:

    Reading the NYT’s questions the idea of brains in people.!
    The last frontier of space. Oh no the rest of it is still a frontier. They ain’t done nothing!
    Christianity teaches that man has a soul and this from Gods image.
    Rejecting this without even respectful nod means they reject an option for truth.
    There is no evidence human thought has any place in the head/brain of himans.
    Its just presumed by soul deniers.
    What is a brain scientist?? What are they doing and who is paying them??

  17. 17
    niwrad says:

    Kantian Naturalist

    Some kinds of powerful psychedelic drugs collapse the subject/object distinction, and Zen satori also collapses that distinction (from what I’ve been told).

    It is evident you have not a direct experience of Satori (“from what I’ve been told”…). To compare Satori with drugs is like to compare Light with darkness. In drugs the subject/object distinction collapses because drugs have the potentiality of disintegrating the individual at his root.

    In Satori nothing collapses and, much less, the individual is destroyed. Only illusions disappear. What is called Satori, Nirvana, Samadhi, Bodhi, Fana… – depending on the tradition – is direct over-rational (but not irrational!) Knowledge of the Self.

  18. 18
    Axel says:

    I thought everyone knew that about rocks. If I’m planning on going anywhere near rocks, I try to find out as much as I can about their local zeitgeist, temperament, political leanings and so on.

    It pays to do a little research into such matters, as you don’t want to seem a Yahoo to them, because of what they would perceive as a grossly insensitive demeanour.

    I’ve been mocking the multiverse as being somewhat less than a parsimonious explanation of everything, and yet it could indeed be seen – together with ubiquitous, matter-created consciousness, the ultimate in parsimony.

    Hey, guys, let’s cut to the chase and just cut science out all together. Save a lot of time and effort.

  19. 19

    I thought you guys liked Nagel? And the idea that “consciousness” is a kind of “mindstuff” that is independent of the material substrate?

    I’m a neuroscientist. I don’t think rocks have minds for the simple reason that rocks don’t have the neural architecture necessary for a mind.

    Nor do I think a newly fertilised ovum has a mind, for the same reason. Nor a dead person.

    That’s why I don’t think ID makes much sense in the absence of evidence for something with a material brain to do the designing. I don’t think that minds are possible in the absence of the material substrate necessary for their existence.

    The OP seems to be indulging in some own-foot-shooting here.

  20. 20
    Axel says:

    I don’t have experience of psychedelic drugs, nirwad, but I’m puzzled by what you mean when you say:

    ‘To compare Satori with drugs is like to compare Light with darkness. In drugs the subject/object distinction collapses because drugs have the potentiality of disintegrating the individual at his root.’

    I can neither understand what you mean by that sentence, nor where you get the idea that having ‘the potentiality of disintegrating the individual at his root’, which would mean total insanity, is relevant.

    Two of the most compelling NDEs I have respectively read about and watched on YouTube were accounts by two young people who had accidentally taken a drug overdose. I have had a range of religious experiences without the assistance of drugs, and was struck by the experience of some NDE’ers of the sense of knowing everything, which I once experienced for a while.

    I would say that the genuine NDE experiences, including those two drug-induced one, are mystical experiences of an extraordinarily privileged nature.

    Does this woman seem as if she has been disintegrated at her root?

    http://www.theguardian.com/wor.....otage-1956

  21. 21
    Axel says:

    Elizabeth, what is your opinion of the out-of-body experiences verified under controlled conditions, attesting to the independence of the mind from the brain? Or do you think the specialists concerned are not telling the truth.

    The article linked below, concluding with the following paragraph should be of particular interest to you, though 4 years old:

    ‘Michael Shermer states that, in reality, all experience is mediated and produced by the brain, and that so-called paranormal phenomena like out-of body experiences are nothing more than neuronal events. The study of patients with NDE, however, clearly shows us that consciousness with memories, cognition, with emotion, self-identity, and perception out and above a life-less body is experienced during a period of a non-functioning brain (transient pancerebral anoxia).’

  22. 22
    Axel says:

    Nirwad, such drugs, in a large enough dose, would have the potential to drive a person permanently insane or kill them, so what?

  23. 23

    Axel, that is a good question. I don’t think that anyone is not telling what they believe to be the truth. I have yet to be persuaded that what they believe to be the truth is the truth.

    I think the problem arises from a faulty conception of the nature of experience. My position is that experience is constructed “on the fly” as it were, as events happen and as they are recalled. I think this accounts, for example, for the common experience of dreams that end in the sound of an alarm clock, where the dream logic seems to lead up to the alarm clock, even though alarm clock, in reality, occurred at the end of the dream.

    In other words, I think it is intrinsic to the way the brain works that we retrospectively infer a sequence of events that we have experience. Therefore, a simple account of “what I remember” is not necessarily a reliable account.

  24. 24
    niwrad says:

    Axel

    My note to Kantian Naturalist was meant to somehow “decoupling” at large psychism and spirituality. The conflation between the two is in fact very common and dangerous. While, in reality, nothing is more distant from spirituality than psychism.

    Drugs are psychism powerful amplifiers, so their use goes directly in the opposite direction than spirituality. I don’t like to deal with these topics here and in public. If nevertheless you are interested to them, I suggest you to read at least Guénon’s “The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times” (especially the last 17 chapters).

  25. 25
    Axel says:

    I suspect I understand what you are driving at, nirwad. If a person is unspiritual and has little to no potential for it, then such experiences are likely be negative somewhere on a long negative spectrum, at best, producing no spiritual fruit.

    Getting heaven into your head is ultimately no substitute for getting your head into heaven.

  26. 26
    Axel says:

    #22. With that attitude to the mind, Elizabeth, it’s not surprising that you are a permanently amorphous, moral relativist. The mind is all we have to go on.

    I know you’ll reiterate the alarm clock explanation. The problem with that is that these experiences are palpably not dreams. Read the literature and you will find the different ways in which they differ totally from dreams. Indeed, the brain is to all intents and purposes, dead, and they are remembered with perfect clarity decades later. Inferring a comparisn with dreams is therefore gratuitous, quite groundless.

  27. 27
    Axel says:

    Here is the article I referred to in #20, but forgot to link:

    http://science-spirituality.bl.....ly-to.html

  28. 28

    Well, as I’ve said before, Axel, I most emphatically did not start off with “that attitude to the mind”. I came to it rather painfully, after a great deal of thought.

    And Susan Blackmore, as you will probably know, ditto, and having looked at a great deal of evidence.

    The trouble is, Mung, that you have boxed yourself into skepticism about any view other than your own, by means, ironically, of the No True Scotsman fallacy. You claim that I must have the views I have because I was never a True Believer; and I cannot have been a True Believer because I have the views I have.

    Do you see the problem?

  29. 29
    Jerad says:

    Indeed, the brain is to all intents and purposes, dead, and they are remembered with perfect clarity decades later. Inferring a comparisn with dreams is therefore gratuitous, quite groundless.

    It was my impression that research has shown that memories are extremely unreliable. I recall one study which asked people what they were doing when then heard about the planes hitting the World Trade Center. They were asked first within a year of the event (or something like that) and then asked again about five years later. The thinking was that traumatic events ‘burn’ themselves into your brain. And yet, those surveyed changed their own stories between the two times questioned. Significant details were altered.

    The take-away message is that memories are created and, sometimes, altered.

    Now, IF they were stored off-line, ‘in the cloud’ then you would expect them to be fixed. However, if memories are laid down and stored by a biological mechanism then it might be that exact details are not always preserved. There are various theories as to why that might be the case but, whatever the reason, it seems to be the case.

  30. 30
    Axel says:

    I started off disliking Susan Blackmore as the TV channels’ were regularly wheeling her on as their default rent-a- skeptic. And I still suspect she’s making too good a living in that role to relinquish it any time soon.

    I was also shocked that she appeared not to know that, in fact, Einstein’s theories had indeed, been proved – and quite some time ago, which she apparently didn’t realise. Although, maybe, there are one or two theories of his, as yet unverified or disproved, for all I know.

    However, the more I saw her, the more she came across as a sympathetic, likeable sort of person; even dangerously veering towards honesty at times! Heck maybe she’s a true-believing skeptic – if that’s not an oxymoron. Just, perhaps, lacking a career death-wish.

    Well, we theists and deists are finding the most rabid, fanatically-fundamentalist, religious zeal, in what one might have considered the most unlikely of atheist locales, although I would bear a greater resemblance to them than her, I must admit. Which, I must stress, in no wise detracts from the truth to which I so earnestly, if erratically attest. An example, perhaps, of the wisdom of sometimes ‘shooting the messenger’! A possibility that had never occurred to me before.

  31. 31
    Axel says:

    ‘Now, IF they were stored off-line, ‘in the cloud’ then you would expect them to be fixed. However, if memories are laid down and stored by a biological mechanism then it might be that exact details are not always preserved. There are various theories as to why that might be the case but, whatever the reason, it seems to be the case.’

    A very good point, Jerad.

  32. 32
    Axel says:

    And just one of a slew of supporting indicators that such experiences are transcendental.

  33. 33
    Axel says:

    That special relationship with the Holy Spirit never seems to leave them, and is, at worst, only slightly attenuated.

  34. 34
    Axel says:

    Such memories are particularly unusual in that the experiences, themselves, were much more vividly registered by the person concerned than those of dreams, and even of our day-to-day waking perception.

    Lusty dreams, one would imagine, would be the most clearly remembered, when one wakes up, but in my experience, they are not that much more memorable than those I struggle unsuccessfully to remember, even though I can remember one from half a lifetime ago (though still not that vivid or clear).

    In any case, the conscious intelligence was not functioning, not able to function at all, when these experiences occurred. I don’t know about the autonomic intelligence – whether the patient’s elementary functions, such as respiration were provided by a life-support system. I suspect so, since the brain was drained of blood, or frozen. Freezing of the blood came into it somewhere in the case I’m thinking of.

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    The trouble is, Mung, that you have boxed yourself into skepticism about any view other than your own, by means, ironically, of the No True Scotsman fallacy. You claim that I must have the views I have because I was never a True Believer; and I cannot have been a True Believer because I have the views I have.

    Do you see the problem?

    Absolutely I see the problem. This is my fist post in this thread. Imagine how surprised I was to find you talking to/about me in it.

  36. 36

    Oops. apologies. Meant Axel.

  37. 37
    Axel says:

    Well, if you reject a belief you hold, by definition, it wasn’t unshakeable, was it?

    In this case, it involved an objective moral code, and renouncing it, you are left with no objective moral reference frame. Now, you obviously claim it is because your intellectual integrity demands you renounce it, since you now have a better understanding of matters.

    It may well be assignable to the ‘No true Scotsman..’ category, but when we are discussing basic world-views there can be no meeting of minds. We choose them – even if we think we do so on the basis of flawless reasoning, so it is the very wellspring of fundamentalism on both sides.

    However, as regards specifics, it strikes me that an affinity and communion of the mind with the Holy Ghost is immeasurably more plausible than an affinity and communion between the mind and a rock.

    Doubtless, you will say, ‘Well, what does science know about the Holy Ghost?’ To which I will reply, what does science know about the mind. You will, perhaps, continue ‘Well at least we know the mind exists.’

    To which I will reply, ‘Well, there are very many Christians who are in absolutely no doubt as to the existence and action of the Holy Spirit, despite the fact that He would neither be receptive to a summons to make himself available for scientific study, nor be susceptible to study under the prevailing canons of empirical science.
    I’m thinking of some knowledge of the Holy Ghost more substantial than so-called alpha waves.

    Although, relative to nothing QM has an ‘inside track’ on the relationship between the mind and matter, compared to classical physics, the notion that even QM could get close to understanding the mind, like QM’s antecedent paradigm, itself leads inevitably to scientism, and is, in its way, no less primitive.

    Likewise, an ‘a priori’ conviction of the truth of materialism, like that of evolution, is simply non-negotiable – least of all with God. A terminal personality clash occurs. God says, ‘See who wins?’ But the atheist has no ears for such taunts, living in a permanent present. Something the saints have always aspired to, but for a different reason than that presumably motivating our much-missed cat, Percy, and those who feel an evolutionary kinship with the animal kingdom.

    You are a little anomalous in that you inevitably tie yourself up in sophistries trying to justify assumptions as if they were arguments. There are no atheist arguments that could hold a candle to scientific arguments for theism. Though I know you’ll be raring to set me straight on that. Spare yourself the effort, Elizabeth.

    What is interesting is that, for most of us, our knowledge of and faith in Christ, predates any knowledge of the evidence for theism which science has been regularly turning up.

  38. 38
    Axel says:

    Not to speak of the latest findings on the Holy Shroud of Turin by Dame Isabel Piczek.

  39. 39
    steveh says:

    This brings up an interesting (to some) question: Can rocks dream?

    The best science on the subject replies with an emphatic “NO”.

    1) There is no organization of matter (or computational substrate) which can cause contemplative meditation and/or consciousness (cScM/c).
    2) Rocks don’t have that kind of organization anyway.

    Q) But what if consciousness is a separate entity which can be associated with brains and/or rocks equally?
    A) I already answered that – see 1 and 2

    This thread is nearly nine months old. Isn’t it time to close it down?

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