« You could be a fundamentalist satsangi if... | Main | Memory is material, yet still quite mysterious »

May 21, 2020

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

"1842: 'no forces operate in the organism other than those common to physics and chemistry.'"

But that is wrong. What we knew about chemistry, physics and the brain in 1842 did not actually explain what has been discovered since then.

You have to assume that the words chemistry and physics include everything those fields would discover one day, like gravity waves, electromagnetic transmissions that actually moderate brain activity wirelessly, quantum physics detectable in nature influencing animal perception, and all the things hidden and undetectable in 1842, and even today. But who can say that what these fields will or won't discover tomorrow? How scientific is trying to doing that?

And even what we think we know turns out to be highly suspect. Especially in neuroscience.

https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/research-teams-reach-different-results-from-same-brain-scan-data-67545/amp

Science is important because it disproves old thinking, even old science. And replaces it with new thinking we never thought of before, or ignorantly dismissed as irrational.

As for the existence of the soul, it is fake science to take brain research and make inferences that can't be tested scientifically. You might as well take research on the feet or heart or eyes and try to make inferences with that data about soul or God. It's an abuse of science to do so, and an insult to scientists studying those fields.

See above article.

There is still so much we don't know about how the brain functions. But no limit to how people, even neuroscientists, draw false conclusions from inconclusive data. People want conclusions. But good science is very cautious about that. What we do know are many of the brain mechanisms and how they interact. What we don't know are many of the brain systems and how they interact.

The brain actually runs far too slowly to explain real-time thought and reaction. But more recent studies suggest the brain operates as a network to help overcome those limitations. No computer simulation has ever duplicated human thought. The fundamental scientific requirement to claim we understand something is that we can duplicate precisely that event under controlled conditions. Hasn't happened yet with human thought and the human brain.

Even more recent models of digital functioning have been disproven. The brain doesn't function at all like a computer. Forty years of neuroscientists trying to force fit that model? Today it's in the toilet.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/feb/27/why-your-brain-is-not-a-computer-neuroscience-neural-networks-consciousness


We don't know a thing about the Soul from physics and chemistry, and no decent science has been conducted on that front.

So we have a choice, misuse science by taking beautiful experiments in neurology and twist them to make fake points about God and soul, or admit that the two subjects are not in fact related by any current means of scientific investigation.

Why do Atheists use the same irrational polemics as fundamentalism?

How odd is it that anyone presumes to conclude fundamental issues of brain functioning when no one has ever been able to duplicate the brain because we still don't know enough yet to do so?

What we know from modern science has been learned over the last two hundred years, and most of it in the last 50 years. It's far too early to claim a dark room is empty. And isn't it an insult to science to use it to make claims about God and soul, rather than appreciate the actual elegant results of scientific investigation?

@... religions don't make progress in knowing the truth about reality.
@ Only science does.

The hubris of that claim is stunning. Or, perhaps mysticism, relying on
repeatable, experiential evidence within consciousness itself, gets a
waiver from this broad condemnation of religion. If not a waiver...
well, at least a patronizing concession from less arrogant scientists
about the "unknowable". In contrast though true scientists will frankly
admit their ignorance on the ultimate nature of reality.

Mystics, though, even certain mystic sects of traditional religions, agree
with science that blind faith leads nowhere. They are totally supportive
of the rigorous methodology of science. No claim that science or
others "make no progress" will ever leave their lips either.

Wait, so you're saying this science thing can help us understand the physical universe? Why hasn't anyone told us this before?

j, that obvious truth needs constant retelling. Here in the United States there's a lot of science deniers. They deny the science of vaccinations. They deny the science of global warming. They deny the science of evolution. They deny the science of epidemiology and how the coronavirus spreads.

I agree with you: it should be clear to everybody that science tells us about the physical universe. But many people believe in holy books rather than science, and in their own misguided intuition rather than science.

Brian, you have substituted one weird religion for another. Anything with the word science attached to it you simply believe without question. It's obvious and clear from an outsiders perspective, but I doubt you're able to see how dogmatic and unthinking you seem to be about so many things, almost all of them pop culture topics provided to you by retards on television and "best selling" books.

Lines like "They deny the science of global warming" are so ridiculous and religious that one could mistake you for a catholic with Tourettes. It's as if you forgot that 2 sentences earlier you spoke of a rigorous debate and weren't aware that the debates on global warming are extremely important, and contrary to things said by the talking head science priests you align with, global warming is certainly not a scientific fact. I still remember the scientific fact that we wouldn't have an ozone layer. That was "settled science" that you must not have seen because you were busy in the RS cult.

Here's an article that has the word science included in the headline. You now have to believe all the things it says because science.

https://www.newsgram.com/burning-loban-is-10-times-more-effective-than-consuming-anti-depressants-science

I’m not an eco warrior, and I agree that global warming may just be a result of the natural cooling and warming processes that have occurred throughout our geological history. And we are anyway overdue a warming period so this may be it.

Nevertheless, my personal ‘belief’ is that we humans have contributed to global warming, the extent of which I’m less certain of, but I think it’s pretty bad and getting worse. The wildlife doccies with Attenborough compares the shrinkage of the snow caps and it’s pretty crazy stuff.

What is definitely accepted science though is that we’ve made our air dirtier and our water more polluted with the industrialization era and it’s by-products.

These days if you go to Venice, you can actually see crystal clear water for the first time in decades because no people are around with covid. Nature can rebound quickly given some breathing space. I live in an area where there is a website and you can monitor the quality of the air and it’s terrible. I think if you do that for long enough, and if you keep pumping shit into the atmosphere, the earth’s ecology will no longer be able to maintain balance and be able to rebound.

I think from about the time of the H-bomb we’ve not only had the ability to knowingly destroy our own planet, but unknowingly too. With China and India mammoth populations coming online industrially and their living standards increasing - I reckon we’ll need a route to another planet pretty soon.

Fresh water I think is going to be the big one and more precious than gold.

Vaccins are very questioning also..
Howso ''they''know it.
Look at the pharmacy Brain,.. how many faults..

The people who think psychology is flakey are the people who need it the most.

@Um

So, ummm... the video... I want that time back—the time I spent watching that video. OMG.

So what of the ‘quantum mind’ theory?

I can see science understanding more the mechanics of the physical brain. But its still a gazillion miles from any established scientific theory of ‘consciousness’, especially from a classical physics/chemistry viewpoint.

Some renowned physicists have linked quantum processes to try explain consciousness. This is virtually all at the hypothetical theorizing stage, but I tend to look at whose doing the speculating. I’m not saying the slightly more nutty or open-minded scientist is wrong, but I reckon you can quickly pick up on those with a more logical tighter train of thought.

When it comes to theories of quantum mind, and in the absence of any evidence, I’d personally pretty much write-off anything that was said by the likes of deepak chopra, fritjof kapra, etc. this is pseudoscience imo. It’s also so wooly and loose that they might claim any process fall under their theories. I’m short, rubbish.

David Bohm seems okay’ish at the next level up, but the ones in this field that I’d give more credence too from a scientific perspective are the likes of penrose, Turin, von Neumann, wheeler, al khalili, etc. they just make more sense to me.

There are many who simply refute quantum explanation of consciousness (Kraus), and they too may be right.

Thing is nobody has the foggiest at this stage - we not even remotely close to a scientific explanation of consciousness. So no wonder half of this book focuses on history and philosophy - I don’t think they’ve got that much to say on the human brain let alone meaning.

I meant ,look Brian, how many faults are there made with Pharmacy..
And still is ..
It's a lot about money making at the cost of so many people.

There are also good things ofcourse but one has to think for themselves..about good and not so good..in this matter.
The ''must'' about vaccins seems very very bad..!

Here we go—the material culture of phantom limb research. I just watched a recent experiment of this on TV tonight.

It does suggest a strong power of the mind. A mind which must exist somewhat separate from the human body or brain.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4904333/

No one denies that there is a placebo effect in medicine. But that’s kind of weird when you think about it because you can apply that type of experiment to other parts of the material world. I mean, I guess some people might (Chris Angel, David Blane, etc.) but you can’t apply it to someone’s house on fire or a person’s street being flooded. Can you? If that were possible we’d be messing with all kinds of reality.

Dick Swaab, a neuroscience researcher in the Netherlands has also written on his extensive work in a book aptly entitled 'We Are Our Brains'. Another book by a neurologist I enjoy is Kevin Nelson's 'The God Impulse'. Both explain the brain as being the seat of our experiences though Nelson writes from the perspective of these experiences (out of body, near death, ecstatic visions, oneness, presence etc.) as being spiritual – spiritual in the sense of being natural,or what our brains do under certain circumstances.

I have no problem with seeing that the brain, with its constant activity of enormous numbers of neurons, synapses, electrical activity, chemical messengers, nerve cells – add infinitum – are not only responsible for what we call 'spiritual experiences' but are also responsible for the mental constructs of mind, self (the ego states) and consciousness.

My take on these matters is that the brain receiving information through the senses, translates these into mental representations which through the multitude of brain interconnections result in the conscious experience.

It is understandable that depending on our particular cultural, educational or religious background, this information our brains have been conditioned with will determine our interpretations of all that presents itself to us. Hence our confusions and delusions we exhibit in trying to understand who and what we are and also with the world we inhabit.

@ Sonia

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi0TFuqj6eND-mJRf8i2Tnw/videos?disable_polymer=1

Just read the titles

Re: https://www.newsgram.com/burning-loban-is-10-times-more-effective-than-consuming-anti-depressants-science
(benzoin/frankincense/Boswellia resin)

Surprisingly, there could be something to that, and churches are secretly drugging you...
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18492727/

@Turan

Yes, but the brain always reflects what is happening on another level. Brain scans show how outside stimuli affect and change the brain. Just because neurons are rapidly firing when someone is having and NDE or OBE doesn’t necessarily mean those things are happening.

The biology of our brains always mirrors our thoughts. So, which came first, the brains shift in biology or the shift in our thoughts? They’re not one and the same. We perceive outside stimuli and our brains react. But there is something that relays the perception of outside stimuli to our brains and that is our thoughts. So, our “thoughts” are the messengers. Right or wrong in their perception, they’re still the messengers between what’s happening outside (some would argue inside during mystical experiences) and the shift in neurotransmitter activity in the brain.

Thoughts are not “material” but they influence and change the material. Thoughts are communicators from what we perceive to how are brain and body behave. Chicken/egg—which acts first, the thought or biology. I think it can be both ways like a tug of war. Psychotherapy can change the brain structure in the same way that drugs can. So, we can heal ourselves by changing our thoughts or we can take drugs to quickly shift our brain chemistry which alters our perception immediately but isn’t lasting. Which is why we continue to need more drugs until we can change the way we think about things.

So, our emotions can be changed by grown-in-the-lab chemistry, and they can also be changed by our thoughts which are not grown in a lab. Our thoughts are not our brain.

Which raises the very question—what IS a thought? It’s wave particles. It’s energy. It’s a form of consciousness. And the fact that it communes with material objects around us (I guess from a hard core material scientist, human beings and animals would also fall into the category or material objects) points to a collective, connected consciousness that could be interpreted as a Oneness of sorts.

Sonia, you're wrong. Thoughts don't produce sensations. Heat up a burner on your stove. Quickly touch your finger to it. I guarantee you will feel a hot sensation regardless of what you're thinking about.

And thoughts are produced by the brain. Functional brain scans (fMRI) show what parts of the brain are activated during thinking. There is zero evidence that thoughts are immaterial. When the brain is damaged, thinking is damaged. Alzheimers is a sad sign of this.

Please provide links to reputable peer-reviewed research that shows thoughts are immaterial. You won't be able to do this, I'm highly confident. I can't understand why people leave obviously false comments on my blog posts. Do you understand the difference between truth and untruth, fact and fiction?

Sonia, you're wrong. Thoughts don't produce sensations. Heat up a burner on your stove. Quickly touch your finger to it. I guarantee you will feel a hot sensation regardless of what you're thinking about.

And thoughts are produced by the brain. Functional brain scans (fMRI) show what parts of the brain are activated during thinking. There is zero evidence that thoughts are immaterial. When the brain is damaged, thinking is damaged. Alzheimers is a sad sign of this.

Please provide links to reputable peer-reviewed research that shows thoughts are immaterial. You won't be able to do this, I'm highly confident. I can't understand why people leave obviously false comments on my blog posts. Do you understand the difference between truth and untruth, fact and fiction?

Posted by: Brian Hines | May 23, 2020 at 10:36 AM

Well, if I had CIPA and touched a burner I probably wouldn’t feel it. Take a look at the reputable peer review article I posted in the comment prior to the one you’re responding to. I was inspired by that article and threw in my two cents—which should be allowed. I mean, what’s the point of a discussion if your not allowed to express your own interpretation of a subject.

I understand that Alzheimer’s is a frustrating diagnosis. It is a scary disease and I truly feel empathy. But thanks to the neuroplastic nature of our brains, we can change the structure of our brains through a change in our thought patterns.

Interestingly enough, Alzheimer’s has been associated with rigid thinking—the kind of thinking that would impede neuroplastic changes in the brain.

I don’t think that people are posting “obviously false” comments on your blog post. You make it sound like people are out to get you. In reality, people just have differing perspectives and differing interpretations. People are allowed to have their own beliefs. People are allowed to have their own experiences.

Very few commenters, if any, on your blog are on a disinformation campaign. Do you believe everyone should agree with everything you say? Do you believe everyone should think like you or be like you?

As far as truth and untruth are concerned, I believe that’s exactly what people are trying to uncover.

Just because someone isn’t an atheist doesn’t automatically make them a liar. I would encourage anyone and everyone to play devil’s advocate. I like to look at things from every facet and angle. I like to keep an open mind so that I don’t ever fall into the trap of rigid thinking and wind up with Alzheimer’s.

“Sonia, you're wrong. Thoughts don't produce sensations.”

Brian, if thoughts don’t produce sensations, then why do you feel a certain way when you think about someone you love? Why do people get aroused just by Thinking about someone or something?

Do you need a peer reviewed article to agree with that statement?

I absolutely do not think as rigidly as you do. It doesn’t necessarily make me wrong, though. Abstract concepts can help to balance out narrow constructs. Hopefully, somewhere between the two lies the truth.

I don’t own a patent on Truth. Do you?

If thoughts are made up of nanoparticles and electromagnetic waves, then clearly they ARE material. Which part of my comment did you not understand OR which part of my comment did I fail to express acutely?

Who’s to say a collect consciousness isn’t material as well?? MATERIAL as nanoparticles and brainwaves.

Do you believe quantum physics and quantum mechanics are pseudosciences?

Sonia, would you agree with these premises? If not, tell me why you disagree. I'm speaking about humans here, to keep the premises simpler.

(1) A brain is needed for consciousness. No brain, no consciousness. A damaged brain produces damaged consciousness, as in Alzheimers.

(2) A brain is hugely complex. About 90 billion neurons. Trillions of synapses, connections between neurons. Currently science doesn't fully understand how the brain functions, due to this complexity.

(3) A brain is governed by the laws of physics and chemistry. This includes the quantum laws that form the foundation of physics and chemistry. Electrochemical transmissions are how neurons operate in the brain,

(4) There is no evidence of any immaterial or supernatural forces operating in the brain.

(5) Thoughts are a product of the brain. Emotions are a product of the brain. Sensations are a product of the brain.

(6) Thoughts, emotions, and sensations lead to other thoughts, emotions, and sensations in complex loops that produce our richly complex conscious awareness, which is unique to every person.

(7) Most of what happens in the brain is outside of conscious awareness. So just because people have a certain awareness that seems to be the result of certain causes, this isn't proof of what really is happening in the brain.

@Brian

Yes, I do agree with all 7 points you listed.

I shouldn’t have said thoughts are immaterial. That was an inaccurate description especially since I was arguing that thoughts are most likely made up of electromagnetic waves and nano particles. I’m not sure what the recipe is exactly...

If nanoparticles and energy waves are part of the “material” universe (which I think everyone agrees they are) then perhaps we’ll one day discover something even smaller than nano—perhaps we will discover that what we call Superconscious is represented by the material as well. I’m open to possibilities.

(7) Most of what happens in the brain is outside of conscious awareness. So just because people have a certain awareness that seems to be the result of certain causes, this isn't proof of what really is happening in the brain.

Posted by: Brian Hines | May 23, 2020 at 01:16 PM

Wait, how would you define conscious awareness?

MIT tried to answer some of these questions in simple terms based on what we know.

“What are thought made of?”

https://engineering.mit.edu/engage/ask-an-engineer/what-are-thoughts-made-of/

“Some specialized connections send up to 1,000 signals per second. “Somehow… that’s producing thought,””

That’s about where we are. In short, nobody’s got any real clue.

http://m.nautil.us/issue/47/consciousness/roger-penrose-on-why-consciousness-does-not-compute

“Even if the human brain’s neurons, synapses and neurotransmitters could be completely mapped—which would be one of the great triumphs in the history of science—it’s not clear that we’d be any closer to explaining how this 3-pound mass of wet tissue generates the immaterial world of our thoughts and feelings. Something seems to be missing in current theories of consciousness. “

Yep, still a gazillion away even explaining the supposedly mechanical brain-mapping, let alone the infinitely harder problem of consciousness where we ain’t got no clue. None. Nada. Zip. Zero.

It will need a maverick like a Penrose or an Einstein to completely turn things upside down. It’s way way beyond current physics, and even then I don’t think we know just how clueless we are.

I also wonder how certain atheists define the terms ‘god’ and ‘supernatural’. If you flew a 747 into the South American jungle where certain tribes have never seen the outside world - I’m sure the people there might consider us gods from the sky. Unexplained technology might as well be magic. It’s based on laws of nature but not laws that the Aztec tribe remotely understand. For all we know there may very well be a natural law or force underlying the whole caboodle that is infinitely more complex than we can ever imagine, which whom we or even Einstein may call god, which is why there is some design and not a random universe.

All I want to know is where do laws of nature come from in the first place. If there is no design, why are there laws? Makes no sense.

“? Thoughts are not “material” but they influence and change the material!

Brian has more or less said it all in his replies. I would add though that people have always looked for non-physical explanations to explain us and the physical universe – inventing numerous concepts to appease the ever present fears and insecurities that thought generated in the first place. A little examination can reveal that thoughts are not our own but stem from the languages and cultures which are passed on to us from our society; this information – stored in our brains – we regurgitate automatically.

Its amazing how our conceptual thinking has evolved, taking us away from the naturalness of life and ourselves which because of thought (in the sense of concepts) has now left us searching for hope and meaning through mind-made mental constructs (thoughts) of immaterial souls, selves, gods, heavens, life after death! and so on . With those failing we now elicit little understood aspects of life and the universe such as quantum physics, other universes and even consciousness etc. to try and justify something non-physical.

No, we are physical beings living in a physical universe – and it is thought that prevents us from just seeing the reality of it all.

Porgy. We call them laws, but they are just natural happenings - cause and effect - that are inevitable in a physical universe. We needn't make 'sense' of them, just acknowledge them and live with them.

Oh I accept the laws, or natural happenings, but don’t you wonder why they exist at all?

@...people have always looked for non-physical explanations to explain
@ us and the physical universe – inventing numerous concepts to
@ appease the ever present fears and insecurities that thought
@ generated in the first place.

To counter "appeasement" theory, there are decades of
research into those pesky accounts of past lives. An
academic setting too (Univ. of Virginia:
https://alumni.virginia.edu/learn/2018/10/16/the-question-of-past-life-memories/).

Voluminous, inexplicable, arguably very compelling too...
unless it's all "appeasement". An interesting example from
a separate study cites the case a child in the USSR:
https://ishanews.org/media/transcripts/eng/Practice_Withdrawal_of_Attention.pdf

The Russian Acad. of Sciences speculated that upper
atmosphere winds carrying brain cells from a Japanese
corpse were the source of the child's memories of a past
life in Japan. The "fears and insecurities" may be the
angst of a dismissive agenda' which can't pigeonhole
these accounts as fraud.

If thoughts exist outside of brain activity there would be no way to know this scientifically. Not yet. Commenting on it is unscientific.

But it is interesting to note that as healthy brains age they become more active, not less active. Heightened brain activity is not associated with heightened awareness. Quite the opposite.

The brain shrinks with age and becomes more active, not less.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16494683/

And interestingly enough, people with heightened brain activity live shorter lives.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326745


And while brain cortex thins over time, meditation, the practice of shutting down parts of the brain, helps thicken brain cortex.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361002/

How counterintuitive!

Brain activity actually decreases, also, when we perform cognitive functions

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855379/

So to say the brain is positively corollated to conscious awareness, while intuitive, is not proven by actual scientific results.

Practical thinking, intuitive thinking, is often disproven by science, but it is a granular process.

We cannot say thoughts exist without a brain. But it is false to claim brain activity is positively corollated with thinking. That's been disproven by science.

And further counterintuitive scientific findings....

Increasing physical exercise, unless you are over 80 and completely sedentary, may do nothing to improve brain health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855379/

Playing mental games and brain exercises may do nothing to improve overall cognitive functioning, except the simple improved performance on that game. So if you want to get good at Sudoku, play it. But don't expect it to improve your overall mental functioning.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/07/10/brain-training-games-dont-really-train-brains-a-new-study-suggests/

And further counterintuitive results...
Sitting still in meditation without any mental tasks except meditation reduces brain aging, restructures the brain away from fear centers and towards higher cognitive centers, and improves concentration and cognitive performance.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#4dad18b21465

Scientific research is incredible if we use it as our was intended.

Hi Brian! You write: "Sonia, you're wrong. Thoughts don't produce sensations......
And thoughts are produced by the brain. .....There is zero evidence that thoughts are immaterial...
Please provide links to reputable peer-reviewed research that shows thoughts are immaterial. You won't be able to do this, I'm highly confident. "

Heh? How about reading a book outside of your bubble of pop-scienctific materialism philosophy?

https://www.amazon.com/Irreducible-Mind-Toward-Psychology-Century/dp/1442202068

The research within this book should keep you going for a few years at least. There is plenty, plenty more books I can provide which demonstrate incontrovertibly your comments above are speculative in places, and demonstrably false in others? Of course, you could just do a quick google search for a skeptical website that has soundbite dismissals of this (or the numerous other) research, based entirely on misrepresentation and untrue information that is rebutted in the books themselves, and feel that qualifies you to dismiss their vast body of evidence and research. This is the kind of absurd, superficial world we live in I suppose.

Listen, I love magical thinking as much as the next guy/gal/guyal, but we must outgrow childish thoughts. Sometimes, the emperor just isn't wearing any clothes:

Unbelievable and mystifying magic trick number 1): The "Big Bang", ex nihilo. More credulous than believing a rabbit literally does magically manifest within a hat!

Unbelievable and mystifying magic trick number 2): That perfectly fine tuned conditions are inbuilt within this astonishing act of ex nihilo for matter to congeal as solid atoms, molecules, gases etc. The blind forces of nature, created ex nihilo remember, just by chance happen to form stars, planets, moons etc. More credulous than believing somebody threw an axe and a tree log into a bag, shook it around for a few hours then opened the bag to find a perfectly formed mahogany table in 18th century Georgian style. Actually, the axe and the log fell into the bag by accident and the bag closed and shook itself, then reopened itself by some natural law we don't yet understand. But we will. Just believe we will.

Unbelievable and mystifying magic trick number 3): By the blind and random movement of insentient and uncaring matter, through the process of evolution by mutation and natural selection over millions of years, we find cats purring, dogs barking, kangaroos hopping and gormless humans going online to defend abstract philosophies. Yes, millions of years of evolution - even though DNA has remained completely unaltered and remains unchanged for all that time! So mind boggling is this trick, that Francis Crick couldn't account for the presence of DNA on this planet as earth isn't old enough for DNA to have - please let's remember, completely randomly - evolved to it's level of complexity. This is more credulous than imagining if one put all the chemical ingredients of an ant into a vat then stirred it for a thousand years, that an ant would eventually walk out of it!

I find it a little too magical and naive to think these things, that random, blind matter, itself produced ex nihilo and totally randomly, bumping into other matter creates even the kind of material and biological complexity we have where we are able to communicate such self-referencing concepts on the internet.

But where your pop-scientific materialism is really proven to be an insufficient way of describing reality and more of an ideological belief is in your comments about consciousness, the brain, mind etc. I'm sorry, but your arguments are incredibly short sighted and were convincingly rebutted & considered outdated decades if not centuries ago! Reading exclusively within the echo-chamber of a narrow reality-tunnel of approved atheist, materialist pop-scientific ideologues may provide you with an illusory sense of understanding, but it really is just an intellectual mirage, and your intellect is no lesser or greater than people who believe other than you.

Your unquestioned and unexamined comments about the brain's relationship to mind and consciousness is severely flawed.

You are like the person from a tribe in the rainforest which finds a radio on a beach. Turning it on, he hears the philharmonic orchestra playing. Amazed, he wonders how the radio is producing all these musical instrument sounds played so exquisitely. First he speculates, there must be tiny little musicians and even tinier instruments within this strange box. Getting "smarter", discovering the scientific method, he takes apart the box, carefully, noting how it is put together. He discovers there are no tiny musicians or even instruments!! He does discover that moving certain things around, damaging certain parts etc, changes or damages how the orchestra sound. All very perplexing - but one thing is absolutely certain, it is definitely the box and it's contents and nothing else that is producing the sound of the philharmonic orchestra, and sooner or later he will know exactly how such a tiny box produces such a rousing rendition of Beethoven's 5th Symphony (I prefer the version of this story where drum n bass is playing :) !!

There is an obvious reason why science has failed so utterly and unequivocally in describing, let alone explaining, consciousness. The orchestra doesn't reside within the box, you fools!

Anyone who claims that science has shown that consciousness is generated by the brain is lying both to themselves as well as others - ask them, precisely, how it is generated and why we are unable to generate artificial consciousness ourselves. Yes, ask THEM for the peer-reviewed scientific research which shows how consciousness is generated :) They will not be able to answer the question, because they have conflated their ideological promissory materialism with scientific fact and data, and simple correlation with causation. Current, cutting edge science has absolutely no idea how, where or even if consciousness is generated. The mystery now is even greater than it was 2 millennia ago! Again, this is simply commonly accepted scientific fact and anyone who claims otherwise is lying to themselves as well as others.

If you're interested in Emil du Bois-Reymond, consider my biography. Here's a taste:

https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/the-greatest-unknown-intellectual-of-the-19th-century/

@mannjit

OK, this awesome;

“More credulous than believing somebody threw an axe and a tree log into a bag, shook it around for a few hours then opened the bag to find a perfectly formed mahogany table in 18th century Georgian style. Actually, the axe and the log fell into the bag by accident and the bag closed and shook itself, then reopened itself by some natural law we don't yet understand.”

😂😂😂

If you're interested in Emil du Bois-Reymond, consider my biography. Here's a taste:

https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/the-greatest-unknown-intellectual-of-the-19th-century/

Posted by: Gabriel Finkelstein | May 24, 2020 at 10:19 AM

Good God he was a prolific polymath!

Looks like an exceptionally well written book too.

Thanks for sharing the link!

@Georgy

Really enjoyed reading the articles you posted links to. And I’m going to continue using this quote of yours, “Unexplained technology might as well be magic.”

That’s a good one.

Hi guys

Been looking over the recent comments, thanks - great discussion, what I like about this blog! I believe there are few other places where you can get lots of cool input and perspectives, particularly from people who have and are practicing various meditation and other approaches to understand ‘themselves’. The big question - is this mysterious thing called ‘consciousness’ purely a result of what goes on (mostly?) in our brains or does ‘it’ somehow exist both within and outside of the brain? Brian seems to be always throwing out the challenge - look prove to me that what you’re harping on about is real, back it up with peer-reviewed science and I’ll consider it. This is good because it continues to make us reflect on what our experience is and how to communicate it. Part of the ‘problem’ is how this is done, given the limitations imposed by our own minds and language. Likewise, saying that ‘I’m only going to consider it, if it comes from a peer-reviewed journal’, also limits things by framing the issue in terms of the scientific world-view and language only - quite likely uninformed on meditational practice/expanded consciousness/non-dual experience. Weather it’s just in the brain or not, it’s my view and experience that we can access/become a state of expanded unitive consciousness - just like folks have done for millennia.

I’m certainly no expert in neuroscience, but I particularly like perspectives put by people who are both neuroscientists and meditators such as Majorie Woollacott. In light of her experience she believes the brain acts like a filter to wider consciousness. It’s like this consciousness is in a contracted state in order for us to operate in life as ‘individuals’. Such contraction is responsible for the development of a sense of self and belief in being a ‘separate’ entity. Thinking is integral to this. So logically if this individual thinking (some say linked to a place in the brain called the Default Mode Network - yes there are peer-reviewed papers on this), is reduced, the possibility of removing/lessening the filter exists and a wider experience of consciousness becomes accessible, (what Spencer is referring to when he says that meditation shuts down parts of the brain?- some good links btw).
This makes sense to me, as does the use of other ‘methodologies’ to access wider consciousness such as entheogens.

I think the true nature of thought can be revealed in meditation, as can the true nature of meditation be revealed in the absence of thought. Mindfulness gives insight into the busyness/fleeting/coming and going nature of thought and helps one to not get wound up in such thought. Going deeper in possibly longer sessions (using other techniques also) can shift one into more of a witness mode, where ‘Awareness’ starts to gain the upper-hand so to speak, as thoughts fall away. It is my view such awareness is tied to this ‘wider consciousness’. In her book Infinite Awareness, Woollacott says ‘Meditation is a state of awareness without thoughts’ (p.14), ‘there is a level accessed in meditation that is beyond the neuron’ (p. 23), ‘experience of this subtler-than-subatomic reality’ (p.73). While I’m not that into discussing things in terms of ‘levels’ I like what she says. Be good if more neuroscientists could actually start practicing techniques such as meditation. They could then use their own insight to better inform and accurately portray the nature of this terrane ‘beyond the neuron’. As Spencer says: ‘It's far too early to claim a dark room is empty.’ Well said.

Best wishes

Hi Georgy. No. I don't wonder 'why' they exist - the 'why' has no answer. I do wonder though on the 'how' - which is what science is about. The 'why' on the other hand is the domain of the perpetually confused.

The brain is a mystery and human thought is a greater mystery. How can a ball of chemicals that can fit in your hand follow the known laws of biochemistry alone and function as fast as our brain? It can't. Something else is going on we haven't discovered yet. We aren't even close to anything like a proven answer.

Scientists have recently discovered what was long suspected. The brain doesn't rely only on biochemical signal transmission, which is abysmally slow. It also uses electromagnetic signal transmission to regulate itself, just like blue tooth and wifi.

http://thescienceexplorer.com/brain-and-body/our-brain-waves-can-be-transmitted-electrical-fields-scientists-find

The human brain is built to interact with our environment and is part of it. To presume it is a closed system, when we are so far from understanding how it does what it does, so very far from simulating human thought in real time, is not scientific.

It is likely that other mechanisms, maybe even interacting with the environment on quantum levels, will come to light as a means to answer the most glaring and persistently unanswered question in neuroscience: How is it even possible to perceive and think in real time with the considerable constraints of this biochemical ball of wet tissue we call the human brain?

There is no shortage of conjecture of course. Parallel processes among the network of dendrite tree connections, which dwarf the number of synaptic connections in numbers, for example. It's human nature to conjecture in a linear fashion about all the things we don't know on the basis of what we do know. And that's fine for identifying new areas of investigation. But nothing has actually been proven to work. Proof happens when you set intuitive and rational biases aside and start with, "I don't actually know."

Proof isn't just a nice explanation that fits our current way of thinking. Proof isn't even a reasonable computer simulation, whenever that might be achieved. Proof is independent evidence that has been replicated and peer reviewed by independent scientists without a stake in the results. Proof is scientific experimental evidence that the biochemical processes that have been discovered in the brain can be recreated in the lab with the same unexplainable speeds and resultant thoughts and measurable effects. And so far that proof is zero.

What will work to accurately model the human brain, and the human mind that it is connected to, inevitably will be something scientists today might call crazy and ridiculous. That may be one reason why it's taking so long to figure it out. It will most definitely have elements that are counterintuitive.

"Your theory is crazy. But it's not crazy enough to be true."
Niels Bohr

The biochemical brain functions too slowly to explain human thought. Neuron signal transmission at its peak is 275 miles per hour.

"Nerve impulses are extremely slow compared to the speed of electricity, where the electric field can propagate with a speed on the order of 50–99% of the speed of light; however, it is very fast compared to the speed of blood flow, with some myelinated neurons conducting at speeds up to 120 m/s (432 km/h or 275 mph)."

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nerve_conduction_velocity#Normal_conduction_velocities


The human nervous system has about 100,000 miles of interconnected brain and body pathways.

https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/numbers-the-nervous-system-from-268-mph-signals-to-trillions-of-synapses


With an overestimate of 1,000 processes running in parallel all at once at top speed, leaving a distance for each process of a meager 100 miles, every stimulus would still require 3.6 seconds before it reached its destination and we became aware of it.

But the brain is much faster. For example, the human brain perceives visual stimuli in 80 ms. That's 8/1,000 of one second from stimuli to perception. And that happens after a lot of brain processing of the image along the way.

Some scientists estimate our brain operates 30 times faster than the best supercomputers.

Supercomputers rely heavily upon parallel processing using thousands of simultaneous electronic signals each one moving hundreds of thousands of times faster than our biochemical brain signals. But even that is not enough to keep up with the actual functioning speed of the human brain.

https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/networks/estimate-human-brain-30-times-faster-than-best-supercomputers


Our brain runs 30 times as fast as the fastest supercomputers? In actual testing the difference was far greater. Using the fourth most powerful supercomputer in the world, scientists found the supercomputer clocked out at 40 minutes to simulate one single second of human brain activity.

https://www.livescience.com/42561-supercomputer-models-brain-activity.html


That's one second for the human brain. And 40 minutes x 60 seconds per minute = 2,400 seconds for the supercomputer. By this measure our brain functions 2,400 times faster than the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world today.


And scientists are trying to build even larger supercomputers to simulate more, knowing this will be limited at best.

“Even with a million processors, we can only approach 1 percent of the scale of the human brain, and that’s with a lot of simplifying assumptions,”

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-new-supercomputer-is-the-worlds-fastest-brain-mimicking-machine/

Augh. When I used to believe that some sort of non-physical human entity might exist, I too followed all the "reasonings" that writers have mentioned above. In fact I was pretty determined to find any excuse or invention that made such a soul ( or whatever) possible).
I'm not sure how I came to realize the real depth of what the brain / body system can do. It was probably by repetitive study of what is so far known and tested. But with the proviso that I had the motivation to discover truth instead of what I hoped.
The total faith in evident in some commentators here, and there desire to give us the "real other worldly explanation" cannot be answered. As I was, I could not accept arguements against my hopes,..however questionable they were. And some of these arguments really do push logic. And face a certain way.

I had to lose the desire for that sort of truth.
This is almost hopeless once you have built your thinking around some initial assumption that seems to you justified and true. You have spotted the inadequacy of scientists and materialists.
"Hah! I've got it. How can they be so limited."

For what it's worth, it seems to me that the whole of this magic experience of life and transcendent beauty and emotion and perception ..and, yes all the mundane life and pain, is built into the brain and body. Depends upon it. Live as well as you can while it lasts.

David L.

For what it's worth, it seems to me that the whole of this magic experience of life and transcendent beauty and emotion and perception ..and, yes all the mundane life and pain, is built into the brain and body. Depends upon it. Live as well as you can while it lasts.

David L.

Posted by: david lawrence | May 26, 2020 at 03:19 PM

Why science can’t replace religion—
John Gray on the myths “New Atheists” tell themselves
https://www.vox.com/2018/10/30/17936564/new-atheism-religion-science-god-john-gray

The brain is an otherworldly miracle of soul and magic.
It defies analysis even while it lay prone lovingly offering itself for analysis.
All reality is happy to be inspected. And that is a very pleasurable life indeed, the life of science. Though she raises more questions than she answers. There is more mystery in each discovery than the knowledge gained in discovery. With every finding we learn more about what we don't know than we learn. Science is that woman so beautiful you can't stop looking at her, and every expression is new and charismatic. You learn more about her all the time, wanting more but never really knowing her. And what you thought you knew? It was wrong. Revealing herself and with each discovery, amazement. What is amazement? Being confronted with things we don't understand, struggling to understand, and when we do, finding another veil behind which more beauty and amazement we haven't a clue about.

But life and death? Life beyond death?

Why ask about what no one can know? Why make bold statements about what no one can know? When there is so much amazing stuff to learn and discover about life? When there are worlds to explore?


We confuse the terms 'life and death'. Rather we should talk of birth and death - leaving life to look after itself as it always has done without 'us' ('I') trying to impose our opinions on it.

And by life I am meaning everything.

Hmm so “The why is for the perpetually confused.”

I would say it takes a special kind of ignorance, or dare I say arrogance, to stop asking why.

I’d say the universe is God and ‘natural laws’ are the mind of God.

And that God is:

(a) ‘supernatural’ if the universe is ‘acausal’ or ‘immortal’, since nothing else that we know of in nature has either ability;

(b) ‘unfathomable’ and work in ways we will never fully understand. Dawkins talks about a God of the gaps - those who equate the unknowable with god. God would almost certainly be unknowable such is the complexity of the universe even in its material form, let alone the questions of its origins. 99.999999% of God would be unknowable or uncomprehendible to a bunch of hairless apes who’ve existed for an eye blink of time. The only parts of God’s mind we will ever understand using our limited intellect is going to be the low-hanging fruit. It would be illogical for it to be any other way. Yet got schmuckaroo scientists who for the last 70 years have proclaimed they’re the verge on the grand ‘unified theory of everything’. Get real.

(c) omnipotent and all powerful. All the energy that we know of is in the universe. So God is all powerful.

(d) omnipresent as far as we know space-time and various field exists everywhere throughout the universe. Don’t the atheist Buddhists (oxymoron) on this site argue that all things are connected?

(e) omniscient and knows all. God created us and we are sentient beings with a consciousness so the universe is conscious. The universe has created, or expressed itself in, many different forms of consciousness. Human beings being just one, but human being don’t know what it feels like to be an aardvark. In such a large universe, there are bound to many other forms of consciousness, and beings whose awareness, intelligence, knowledge and abilities are so superior to human beings that we might be the equivalent of ants to them, and they may as well be like gods to us. God knows all this, as these are all God’s creations. What is definitely unknoable from a scientific viewpoint is whether there is an ever deeper more profound consciousness or god-awareness or Tao or shabd or Buddha nature or soul that pervades all things.

So yes I can easily imagine God having many of the abilities humans and their religions have already imagined, and I suspect God has many other qualities that we have not even begun to, and cannot ever, imagine (if Sagan and Feynman were right).

But there may be different ways of understanding the mind of God:

- Science may be one way, based on an ‘objective’ approach (using material, rational, and logical aspects of our own mind).

- Spirituality may be another way, based on a ‘subjective’ approach (using meditative, emotive, and intuitive/artistic aspects of our own mind).

Both ways may tell us part of the picture, but would seem to be limited.

Science is limited in several ways as I explained in a previous post, not least what can be objectively observed. Spirituality is based on subjective experience so we cannot confirm or deny the validity of someone else’s experience.

Scientific textbooks and holy scriptures, and their associated professors and priests, are hugely influenced by their own generational biases (i.e. of a certain time / era). A reader at a later period should interpret them as such. Anyone applying an overly literal or skewed interpretation to the Bible or Koran is an idiot or a fundamentalist. These ancient books were written in a different time and place. They are not the word of god, but very rough approximations as written by flawed individuals with their own personal and generational biases.

Individuals have biases, many of which are unknown to the individual. For example, I suspect there are many satsangis and exes who’ve completely distorted the teachings of the rssb guru. They listened to him for decades and yet didn’t hear a friggin word. I suspect, this is probably why a living master is needed, and also why they tell you to ignore the rssb books, because they are often incorrect approximates of the teaching. For example, there is a constant reference to the guru as GIHF by both believers and exes. This is just outright nonsense. The guru has repeatedly said “I’m not the master, the shabd is the true master”. He is constantly telling everyone he is not even the master and yet they constantly create a god out of him, despite him telling them not too.

And yet there is a reason for the enduring popularity of these holy scriptures. If nothing else, the best are works of art, of great poetry and allegory, that come closest to describing the indescribable mind of god, and of putting into words the transcendental experience of union with God. Some might be more receptive to these books than others, perhaps if brought up in a more contemplative culture.

I personally used to think the Bible was compete bullshit, but there are undoubtedly extremely powerful poetic passages to it, or at least the King James Version. But I think the Bible actually becomes quite profound if many of its passages are interpreted in a more ‘mystical’ way, where they then make a lot more sense.

I believe this is what Huxley was hinting at in his ‘perennial philosophy’, and what James thinks is core to all religions.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Welcome


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.