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
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