Forget Whether God Exists, Investigate Survival of Consciousness First

Forget God (for awhile), survival of Consciousness after death and outside the brain is the thing to investigate first, says the blogger below. If you prove consciousness has a mind of its own, a life of its own, then the other question of whether God/Goddess exists or not will simply answer itself. The atheists-and-scientists vs. mystics-and-believers method is not getting us the answers we need, we crave. We must look at whether consciousness survives after we die, examine the evidence that our brains do not create consciousness, they merely tap into it, like your car radio picks up on a broadcast of huge FM radio waves.

Very thought-provoking cogent ponderings… I also saw the PBS show portraying Freud debating CS Lewis, the blogger mentions. The program was also thought provoking and deep, yet fell short of answering the ultimate questions…  This article/blog below and the comment that follows seem to point right at such ultimate answers. — +Katia

Forget God

The November 13, 2006 issue of TIME Magazine featured a debate between scientists Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins on the existence of God, the origin of the universe, faith vs. science, etc. As might be expected, they went around in circles and got nowhere. That’s because they are assuming that one has to find God before he or she gets answers to anything else of a spiritual nature. At no point do these intelligent men get to the real issue — whether consciousness survives physical death. If God does exist, but consciousness does not survive physical death, so what? We are still marching toward “nothingness,” i.e., total extinction.

Not long ago before I read the TIME article, I watched a two-hour television program titled The Question of God on PBS. The program, moderated by Dr. Armand Nicholi, a Harvard professor and practicing psychiatrist, featured a theoretical debate between Sigmund Freud, the atheist, and C. S. Lewis, the believer, on the existence of God. After the views of Freud and Lewis were presented by actors portraying the two men, a panel made up of educated believers, agnostics, and atheists gave their thoughts. As you might expect, the discussions went also went around in circles and ended up at the starting point.

As with Dawkins and Collins, the panel members never got past the issue of whether God exists. They discussed such things as whether order can exist in the universe without a higher intelligence, whether God is a product of the need to believe in something greater, and how there can be a God when there is so much evil in the world. As I see it, the issue there also should have been whether consciousness survives physical death. Knowing that there is a Higher Intelligence, Creator, Divinity, Cosmic force, God, whatever name we choose to attach to Him, Her, or It, doesn’t in itself help us understand the purpose of our lives or give real meaning to them.

The “believers,” including a Buddhist journalist and a Jungian analyst, talked about a “sense of connection” to the Divine and an intuitive feeling that there is something greater, to which a skeptical lawyer expressed my thoughts, “Where does that get you?”

Perhaps the viewer was supposed to assume that a belief in God meant a belief in survival of consciousness and, concomitantly, a purpose to life, but the discussions never went that far. It was as if the mere mention of survival or an afterlife was a bit too religious and rudimentary for such educated people. When the afterlife was alluded to on a couple of occasions, even the “believers” weren’t prepared to discuss the subject. In fact, it appeared that none of the believers had any concept of the afterlife beyond what is espoused by orthodox religions.

It was mentioned that Dr. Nicholi has used the Freud vs. Lewis debate in all of his Harvard classes for more than 30 years. I am not qualified to argue with such an esteemed educator, but it does seem to me that Dr. Nicholi and others are missing the boat in approaching the question of God and immortality of the soul deductively, i.e., finding God before we accept the survival of consciousness. Since God apparently is beyond human comprehension, so many people stop there and are left with nothing more than orthodoxy’s humdrum heaven and horrific hell, a scenario that does not invite rational people to believe. Unable to get a handle on God, those taking the deductive approach require a large leap of faith, something more and more people are reluctant to do in this scientific and materialistic age.

The inductive approach, that of psychical research, makes much more sense. That is, explore and examine the evidence for survival of consciousness in such things as near-death experiences, out-of-body travel, deathbed visions, spirit communication through various types of mediums, past-life regressions, and other forms of psychical research. Then, assuming we are satisfied with the evidence, look for an Intelligence behind it all, even though we can’t comprehend that Intelligence. In the light of evidence for survival, the “question of God” really becomes academic. Perhaps that is the problem: Academia often has a hard time dealing with the practical.

C. S. Lewis seems to have based his belief in God simply on emotion, including a “longing to believe.” Although it wasn’t mentioned in the PBS program, Lewis, as I understand his writing, rejected spirit communication and other psychical research as so much humbug. He would certainly not be my choice as an advocate or defender for a belief in the spiritual. I would have selected Sir Oliver Lodge, the esteemed British physicist and educator of yesteryear, or Dr. Gary Schwartz, currently of the University of Arizona, as my advocate or defender. Of course, Sir Oliver would have to be brought up to date on research taking place since his death in 1940, although I suspect he is very much aware of it and may even be inspiring much of it.

But neither Lodge nor Schwartz would be able to sway the fundamentalists of religion and science – those whose minds are made up and closed to further enlightenment. The absolute proof they require seems neither possible nor desirable. However, the results of credible psychical research can significantly influence those who are open minded and truly searching for real meaning and purpose in life.

As I see it, the Freud approach involves a fatal leap into a darkened chasm, while the Lewis approach requires a giant leap of faith over that chasm. The Lodge and Schwartz approach, on the other hand, do not involve much more than a short hop over a babbling brook. 

Forget whether God exists or not and look at the evidence for survival. There is a preponderance of such evidence out there. Examine it, discern it, dissect it, and let God emerge from what you discover.

Tagged with: God, afterlife, spirituality, Richard Dawkins, science, religion

8 days later, Water Carrier wrote:

Hi Mike, 

You wrote,

 Forget whether God exists or not and look at the evidence for survival. There is a preponderance of such evidence out there. Examine it, discern it, dissect it, and let God emerge from what you discover. 

I agree. Ultimately, those who argue against the existence of God are arguing against the existence of consciousness. They believe consciousness is secreted by the brain the way the adrenal glands secrete adrenaline. Consciousness is an epiphenomenon, or emergent phenomenon, but it in itself doesn’t exist. It’s just a quality of something that does exist, just as “sharp” is a quality of a knife but “sharp” doesn’t itself exist. 

And so, to talk with them about God is pointless. That’s not where their ignorance lies. They don’t know that consciousness exists outside of and aside from the brain, or rather, that the brain is an epiphenomenon of consciousness. That ignorance is a remarkable state of affairs in the twenty-first century when so much research shows that neurons firing don’t account for the moment of a conscious experience. Neurons certainly don’t account for the fact that I can sit in my office, close my eyes, and “see” images of objects on people’s tables thousands of miles away . I’m not using a retina; I’m not using my optic nerve; and I’m not using the optical cortex because no electrical signals are coming into it to create neurotransmitters. In other words, it seems pretty clear that I “see” without the brain. Then I remember what I see, so my memories aren’t in the brain either.

My seeing objects in this way happens with none of the electrical signals the optical cortex needs to produce the neurotransmitters. Electromagnetism doesn’t travel over the earth’s curvature, and besides, experiments done in Faraday cages show that this psychic activity doesn’t involve electromagnetism. But the images are there, in my consciousness. In other words, my consciousness is seeing things my brain can’t possibly “see,” without photons, a retina, an optic nerve, or an optical cortex. My brain is just protein and fat tightly enclosed in the darkness of my skull. My consciousness is what’s out there seeing something thousands of miles away.

So obviously, consciousness isn’t in the brain. And that means when the brain dies, consciousness doesn’t die. It’s still wherever it was when the brain was producing brainwaves and firing neurons. That’s what the direct-voice medium recordings tell us http://adcguides.com/ . People who die find themselves just as they were the moment before death. Some don’t even know they’re dead and wander around the Earth for weeks, months, or years. 

The skeptics won’t look at the real issue of the nature of consciousness. It’s too scary for them. They would have to rethink everything they know if they learned that consciousness isn’t in the brain. It’s easier to avoid looking at the vast amount of evidence that consciousness exists aside from the brain and consciousness survives death. It’s easier for them to focus on an easy target: the unprovable, inaccessible nature of God. That’s avidya, ignorance. 

But if they did just accept the obvious fact that consciousness is outside of the brain (or the brain is inside consciousness), then they could understand that consciousness is fundamental. From everything we know, consciousness is the ground of all being. Knowing that consciousness is eternal, is located outside of the body, and is the ground of all being, there must be an architect with a greater consciousness. Materialism and evolution break down in the face of consciousness. It couldn’t have evolved naturally; it could only evolve purposefully, and that requires a conscious architect.

As you suggest, if the skeptics will look at consciousness and the survival of consciousness, they will find God.

 — Craig

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Katia

Katia is a consecrated independent sacramental bishop. She directs the online Esoteric Mystery School and Interfaith Theological Seminary. Check it out at NorthernWay.org.

4 thoughts on “Forget Whether God Exists, Investigate Survival of Consciousness First”

  1. I just returned from the 2009 Annual Conference of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, where 200 near-death experiencers and researchers shared their understandings of after-death consciousness and of the gifts that many NDErs bring back with them after taking that voyage from which many do not return. There is no question in one’s mind, after taking that trip and returning, that one’s consciousness is indeed alive and well outside one’s body. Those of us who haven’t taken that trip yet can learn a great deal about death and life by listening to those who have done so. They know the truth and are willing to share it. Go to web sites like iands.org or nderf.com or near-death.com to read hundreds of accounts which can’t be swept under the rug any longer. Western science needs a new paradigm which accounts for the reality of survival of consciousness. And, yes, God is there.

  2. This is such a fascinating discussion, especially for those in my situation: I am now studying psychology and also believe in a higher power, intelligence, in the universe. Those of us, who may be a minority, who cling to Western scientific research combined with spritual beliefs seem to struggle to bring the two together.
    My thought is this: stop searching for God. Stop searching for a ‘reason’ to believe, because it already exists. There are so many texts in the Bible and other books that support this statement – too many to mention here. Quieting our hearts and simply allowing the spirit to become active in us will reveal more, in my opinion, than a search into an existence of a higher power that we can not comprehend. The Bible is full of stories of “we will find that which we do not seek” and similar themes. There is truth in this as we look inside our hearts and allow that which is always present and beyond our understanding to enter into our being.
    I do not mean to imply that research, or science, should be abandoned. On the contrary, the more we learn and understand about ourselves the better we become. But, if we are to believe that God, or the Supreme Intelligence, or what ever you refer to the Diety as, is real and exists in the universe, you must also believe that God is beyond our understanding.
    I heard a joke once and, although it was very simple, it’s meaning is extremely deep:
    “One day the scientists approached God and said we no longer need you – we have become intelligent and powerful on our own. God said to them, OK, but let’s decide after one test. If you perform as well as I you will be on your own. The scientists agreed and God said we will make a man and God spoke and a man was created from the clay of the earth. The scientists said we will begin and picked up some clay and God said, No, get your own clay”.
    Peace to all.
    Rev. Eddie

  3. ‘Et in arcadia ego’
    I was once happy, to work and pay bills, watch my children grow, be asleep in everyday life. A spiritual conversion however, an epiphany, a manifestation of a being beyond your ken, is like a car crash- a life altering event unlooked for and completely unexpected- an occurrence that will awaken you and from which you can never return to the life you knew. This is an awakening of consciousness, the neshama God breathed into Adam, for him and us to become a communicating spirit.
    The past is gone, you cannot turn back time, the present is difficult as you struggle to reconcile both the material world and the spiritual and the future is anything but certain. We are obliged to learn so God can experience His world through our senses. This is consciousness. And in return He has left His Holy Spirits as guides so we can come to know Him. Jesus Christ showed us this is the Way.
    However this is not to say that the way is not hard- we are human and frail, inconstant and weak- grace has to be earned. Many are called but few chose God and even less are then shown the way. The grace of the Holy Spirit opens the door. You have to walk through.
    Like a car crash, an awakening is something you would not want to be involved in without prior faith, but protected by the safety belts and airbags of belief, it is an experience that is survivable yet some people hang around these accident black spots, churches, waiting and praying to witness an crash and yet will never be changed themselves. Why are some chosen who did not wish this change chosen and why are others not when that is all they wish? Or perhaps I have just answered my own question.
    You can supplicate, entreat and worship all you like but that is not a way to come to know God. He does not want you to petition Him for something, not for anything or ask for help with your own problems and he certainly does not want our homage or rites, ceremonies or adoration. Such things are human concepts and mean nothing to a Being and Beings of completely different character to us. Jesus never once said worship me. He said follow me. So, stand by the accident black spots and wait for a miracle but that will not help you come to God or consciousness.
    However one day you will not put your seat belt on, nor will you drive a fancy car with more airbags than passengers. Perhaps you will have forgotten all about God, the meaning of life, mans purpose on earth if you ever thought of such things. You will be happy to work and pay bills, watch your children grow, live entirely in the material world, blissfully asleep, minding your own business when wham! You will be derailed and your life will never be the same again.
    This accident can only happen if it is unlooked for, your life fine to remain unaltered and you are expecting nothing. But when you are mangled emotionally in the wreckage of the life you thought you knew there is no alternative but to come to know God and awake to consciousness. He wants to see the life He has given you through your eyes. He is the ghost in the machine, the neshma breathed into Adam, the mind separate from brain and body.
    And there most certainly is no life after bodily death, ‘no hell below us and above us there is only sky,’ thank you John Lennon. God comes to you when you least expect Him and did not even know you wanted Him in your life, this life, His life. Pleading with God to come to your aid is unhelpful. How can you ask more of God when He has given you this wonderful gift of life for free? What more do you want? For all your fears and greed, lusts and despair to leave you? What would God have to learn of His world then if you were as pure as His angels? Angels that can never experience what we endure as human beings? Angesl that do not have the potential we possess. How else is God to grow through us, with us, if not by trial? If you want to ask for anything from God then you should pray for suffering. There is no other way to grow as a personality. Self pity, bodily afflictions are not real. So the question is can our consciousness remember when our body has left us? And I have asked and I think not. Why would we want to be as Angels? Removed from experience of life or reborn knowing what will happen? Why do the Buddhists want to remove themselves from karma? Where is the fun in that? Where is the fun in being outside of life experience when that is what God requires of us?
    Consciousness as God, our neshama, is eternal. Perhaps we will be given a choice; return and not remember or removal from life and no longer participate in the great game of life. What would you choose?

  4. Does “God” transcend the human condition?

    If so, from this perspective it makes perfect sense to cease trying to “prove” whether or not God exists. The effort is futile. But not because God does not exist, rather because as humans we lack the requisite capacity to answer the question. That which has a limitation is simply unable to surpass its limitation. But this is not to say nothing beyond that limitation exists, or fails to exist. This is also not to say that which lies beyond this limitation is unable to effect that which lies within this limitation.

    However, this does not mean we cease trying to discover what we may of the “Mind of God” (even better stated, the “Heart of God”) nor that there is no value in doing so. We learn and (strive to) grow from this effort to know of the Unknowable. We undertake this journey not to learn of the Divine as much as we do to learn of ourselves, of our nature, and in what way we may relate to the Divine. Another way of saying this may be that God does not need us to seek the Divine to help God. We need to seek the Divine to help ourselves.

    But at the same time, we should understand this is not a pursuit undertaken so that our intellect may reveal the Divine. Searching for intellectual comprehension of the (transcendental) Divine is futile. However, we may hope for some degree of apprehension of the Divine. This is at least where I find my “head knowledge” brings me… to the realization that intuition and “heart knowledge” is my most fruitful path for meaning, both of myself and of the Divine (or more specifically how I relate to the Divine).

    I believe following the path of Heart Knowledge may lead to a personal experience, a sense of common-union, and therein whatever may be revealed of the Divine may be best (only?) discovered. In this sense, knowledge of the Divine comes only from within — it must be experienced. Which leads to a difficulty. Such experiences are seemingly always said to be unexplainable to others. Words fail. They are too poor. This is why so much scripture contains mythological allegory. Others attempt to share their experience of the Divine more directly, through ritual, providing a means of re-enacting some aspect of their ineffable experience with the hope we too may share their intuitive perception. Others drum and/or dance to encourage their minds to relax to the point of allowing them to have a Dream/Shadow World experience. (Or alternately, to leave this dream world to visit the “real” world.) Regardless of the methodology, the goal is to share something which must be experienced to be understood; something not communicable through mere words/symbols.

    Note, we hear much the same concern when people recount their Near Death Experiences (NDE) — “words fail.” I feel this is because both experiences transcend our human condition. “God” does so entirely. However, through NDEs we at least catch a “scent” of what may await us in our Life After Life. And while this is another subjective experience we will never be able to “prove” to someone else, there does exist a large body of testimony highly suggestive that our conscious experience does survive our death. For how long and to what end we cannot know or prove.

    I do agree the brain is not the seat of our consciousness, nor does the brain create consciousness. I expect our brains act much like radio transceivers (both receiving and transmitting). This would certainly help explain phenomenon such as remote viewing, speaking with “dead” relatives, and the effectiveness of prayer and energy healing. Quantum physics has demonstrated we are immersed in a very strange universe. I actually find many “spiritual beliefs” to be less bizarre than what we (think we) know about the nature of the universe!

    But even if we accept that our consciousness survives our physical death, I don’t think we are justified to expect this state will necessarily provide sufficient illumination to declare that God exist (or fails to exist). We may not remember this life, or it may seem as if it were a dream, or we may remember it fully (perhaps with much better clarity) yet discover that our physical-world concerns are moot once we have obtained (reclaimed?) our spiritual-world perspective. So I see no reason to assume my next-higher state will reveal God to me. I find it more reasonable to assume God transcends that state as well, and as thoroughly, as this one. Of course, I can’t know that — it’s just my intuition.

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