Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Messages 14081 - 14100 of total 22817 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 23, 2013 - 11:50pm PT
So "things" (whatever that means) do not exist apart from consciousness, an ineffable "field" that is "unborn". How can a field be unborn? Is this what Jan was talking about some time ago when she alluded to the difficulty of putting such "concepts" into words? That your vocabulary, being a discursive tool, can't keep up with and describe your insights.

I have never said that "things" do not exist apart from consciousness as I do not belong to the "mind only" school. It is only one philosophical school among many in both Hinduism and Buddhism.

What I have said is that it seems as realistic to me that the physical universe is a property of a conscious intelligence as that evolved consciousness/intelligence on the planet earth is the product of the physical only. Mainly we don't know and I doubt our little ape brains ever will and I'm fine with the mystery of that.

I feel even more fine that my experiences of meditation indicate that there is an intelligent consciousness permeating the universe that interacts with mine from time to time. It could be God, angels, space aliens, or my own delusions, I simply don't know. Whatever it is, when I'm attuned to it, my life goes better and I am happier.

I have said that it's very difficult to describe in words what the non verbal part of our brain is like but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist or isn't important. It is accessible through dreams but the most efficient method is meditation.

Edit.
Because people so easily anthropomorphize, Buddhists have invented a number of terms to describe ultimate reality. Unborn, undying, uncreated and unchanging is a typical Buddhist way of saying infinite and eternal.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
May 24, 2013 - 12:26am PT
built as it is to deal exclusively with things, qualities, effects, combinations, constructs, etc.

Yes it's dirty work but someone's got to do it. I mean little kids don't get protected from polio by people sitting around preoccupied with the "unborn" (or its Draculean opposite " the undead".) Werner cannot repair his carburetor with thoughts of non-physical eternity.
Next time you hear of a non-discursive thinker producing a real world effect, email me please.

Jan: I posted a recent Nova special on Neanderthals slightly up thread . An excellent production on recent breakthroughs in Neanderthal research.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
May 24, 2013 - 12:35am PT
Fruity posted link to a vid by Susan Blackmore that she delivered to CalTech in 2005. I looked at this closely and took the following notes for anyone who is interested.

Early on we realize that Susan Blackmore didn’t go into her 30-year investigation of consciousness open minded, rather she began with the assumption: “How does the brain do it?” So she begins with the belief that the brain “creates” consciousness, sort of like falling rocks creating gravity. It’s logical as hell, so who can fault her for this first supposition?

Next assumption is that “consciousness is the last great question of science,” or, science has a favored nation kind of exclusivity in “understanding” consciousness, which quite naturally follows from the original belief that the physical brain “creates” consciousness from whole cloth.

Pretty much Susan runs into the common conundrum that when she is pressed into trying to describe or quantify consciousness as a quality or function or thing, she simply cannot, that consciousness naturally throws off all such descriptions at every turn.

Next, she explores Nagel’s argument that consciousness is the amorphous experiential essence of “what is it like to be” a bat, a bumble bee, Ed Hartouni, or Lady Gaga. The “be” here is nothing less than the conscious subjective experience of a given subject or object. Put differently, “consciousness,” as in this sense, is the awareness and experiential process associated with the vast flow of qualia (subjective material or content – from thoughts to feelings et al). In other words, consciousness is tied to content, or the “things” and stuff of our experience. The “stream” of consciousness, as William James wrote about it 120 years ago. It follows from Nagel’s original thought experiment (What is it like to be a bat?), that minus the self-aware flow or qualia, there is no consciousness.

Susan’s take on dualism – the seeming wide gulf between body and mind – is that if they interact, they cannot be totally different, though she doesn’t explain this belief in any detail.

She then defines consciousness as an “illusion” in the sense that it DOES exist, but not in the way most people think of it or reify it. Put differently, it is not an object or a thing, so standard definitions of “existing,’ which are reserved to quantifiable objects, do not apply to consciousness. Her definition for something that exists, but which is has none of the characteristics of a physical or material property, is that “it” is an illusion, appearing to some as a thing, but only in appearance.
Next, citing Dennett, since we cannot “find” either the flow or qualia or experience “in” the brain itself (an idea dating back to Leibniz, and before), nor yet an observer, we have to abandon each as real “things” as assume they are illusions.

Here first stumble is not realizing that while the ego self or “I” is entirely provisionary, that there is no actual “I” watching, there is a flow of stuff going in and out of the watcher’s purview. And there IS watching, there IS stuff arising and falling in the field of consciousness. On the strength of there being no actual watcher, she dismisses watching as false and the flow of qualia as not actually happening. Those are fatal errors based on one correct notion – that the “I” is provisionary and just a mental trick to consolidate a sense of “self.”

Next, and working a now-familiar them, she describes consciousness as seemingly involving a “you,” who experiences a stream of stuff (qualia) passing through awareness and in the process you make conscious decisions.
The next bit has to do with a now famous experiment that shows clearly when we are asked to do a task, the brain readies to do so long before we “decide” to do said task, and will carry out the task unless we consciously intervene. This, Susan maintains, is proof that the brain does the task mechanically, with no input from an imaginary (to her) will, or “I” who decides, and therefore we are in fact purely response mechanisms under the delusion that “we” are “deciding.”

This is an entirely mistaken view on how this all happens, akin to Dawkins mistake about the fact (in his mind) that we don’t consciously and deliberately think, but rather, thoughts arise entirely unbidden about whatever we are focused on. This is a tricky one to explain, but Dawkins fumbled it because he doesn’t understand that will is hooked up not to sourcing information (the brain does that all by itself) , but where we direct our attention. He is correct in believing that thoughts geyser up unbidden – five minutes of meditation will make that clear to anyone. The fact that the brain sources the thoughts and the impulse to move, in the woman’s case, in here mistakenly construed to mean there is no conscious action possible to humans, but rather it is all strictly blind, mechanical processes with us believing, falsely, that we are deciding what we will do and when we will do it.

Next, she describes a common belief that vision builds up a faithful and accurate mental representation of an objective world “out there,” pretty much how the world actually, and objectively, is – “out there.” Quite naturally, this bit is to show that vision is not actually a task of “building up” an objective take on what is out there, which is by Susan’s understanding, a mistaken view on how the brain functions and what it does.
We are so confused about consciousness that we need to start all over again in thinking about it, she asks.

Then she busts an totally unexpected (to me) move which is in a way a kind of nut shell view of what the Sufis have been saying for hundreds of years. That is, unless we are asking ourselves the question: Am I conscious, or put differently, unless we are intentionally practicing what the Vipassana folks call “mindfulness” of maintaining conscious contact with BEING present right now, right here, our lives proceed almost entirely on auto-pilot. We only believe that we are here, as conscious beings, but what’s actually going on is mostly fusion to our thinking and impulses and little to no self-awareness that we are even alive.

Ultimately she says that “there are no things that are in consciousness and out of consciousness. There’s no sense that we can find the content of consciousness or the neural correlates of consciousness because the contents don’t exist.”

What exists, of course, is consciousness itself, but she's flipped the entire paradigm.

I can’t expect this to find much traction on this list, or that many people will even understand what she is saying.
jogill

climber
Colorado
May 24, 2013 - 12:57am PT
Ok, that brought some clarity from Jan and JL. I appreciate JL's synopsis of that talk - I tuned out after 15 minutes or so. Afraid my heart and mind are not in it. Pretty much a physicalist, except for math and after a career in it I'm not sure where I am, only that I enjoy the thrill of exploration and creativity. Like climbing.
MH2

climber
May 24, 2013 - 12:02pm PT
I like to steer a path between too much certainty and too much doubt. It helps to have people like Jan and JL and Werner who have different notions about how things are. It also helps to have ways to test ideas and find which you can trust. Neurophysiology has made good progress since the days I was a student but I much prefer the studies of how dragonflies choose and acquire their targets to studies of consciousness.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
May 24, 2013 - 12:26pm PT
Another fun bit in Blackmore's piece was her reintroducing visual illusions and such as means to once again just getting us (consciousness students) re-used to the idea, otherwise the fact, that our innate cognition or intuition likes jumping to conclusions that are often, in these deeper subjects esp, incorrect factually.

Claim: Our brain mechanics sets us up to jump to conclusions, sometimes desperately and/or erroneously. A somewhat unsettling claim.

.....

A playful term: qualiameter.

Usage: She said it was an intense experience, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that red-lined her qualiameter to the rail, one that she wouldn't ever forget.

.....



"These discourses need to be defeated, and the developing counter-narratives to these worldviews and mindsets need to be strengthened."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22640614

(1) "What is like to be a bat?"
(2) What is it like to be an Islamic supernaturalist with no evolutionary scientific worldview as a counterpoint?

Evidence of Islamic Reformation in progress...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDwUpv90QEE
jogill

climber
Colorado
May 24, 2013 - 04:13pm PT
Evidence of Islamic Reformation in progress...

Thanks for posting that. Adds a little more perspective to the issue.


Like the idea of a qualiameter. I'll work on the mathematics and we'll have that missing numerical link between the subjective and objective!

Just kidding . . .

;>)
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
May 24, 2013 - 04:24pm PT
Claim: Our brain mechanics sets us up to jump to conclusions, sometimes desperately and/or erroneously. A somewhat unsettling claim.
-

I think this is especially true for those believing that the brain ingests a fixed, objective reality that exists the same inside our beans as it does "out there," independent of all subjective input. This is basically the equal of a classical model of consciousness, in the sense of Newtonianesque. Now hopelessly old school and quaint.

Was also looking at an old Dennett vid at lunch.

Dennett starts off with what is rapidly becoming the kind of tell-tale belief of the foggy, or classical view of “mind,” that is, the nature of mind is known through content, or what is “in” mind.

What’s more, to Dennett, consciousness is recognized by breadth or volume of said content.

Since we are not fully conscious of what is “out there,” as many visual experiments have shown, our consciousness is “limited.”

Going on, Dennett makes the claim, also common to the old school, that mind, and informational processing, are the very same things, and since info processing is very likely mechanical in whole or part, then it follows that “mind” is likewise mechanical.

Lastly, Dennett states that “what’s not there,” in the physical and mechanical sense, "need’s not be explained," since it is “not there.” This lead him to the label the very aspects of his own experience (qualia) as “illusory” because as has been well established, we can fine no trace of “experience” in the objective brain, which is like trying to find “Cry of Love” inside of an electric guitar. It’s “just not there,” right?

JL
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
May 24, 2013 - 06:46pm PT
Heh, quite the facile analogy there, but speaking of which, this is going around the interwebs lately, gotta love the casualness:



Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
May 24, 2013 - 06:52pm PT
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mu0mhDDtd9A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ItF0YLHRLU

Another crusher female guitar player who doesn't overplay.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
May 24, 2013 - 07:47pm PT

Claim: Our brain mechanics sets us up to jump to conclusions, sometimes desperately and/or erroneously. A somewhat unsettling claim.

This is because the dictates of survival in the uncompromising world of tooth and claw frequently won't allow humans to just sit around pre -possessed with alternative optional and well- considered introspection. Things like lions and tigers and imminent starvation call for action first and contemplation later.

We as a species are still wired to face danger with mental pacing appropriate to the opposing threat which dictates the timing of our responses. ( You have no doubt heard the saying : "the aggressor sets the rules")
As with many stress responses they have become somewhat vestigial. Fight or flight is way cool out on the predator infested savannah but not stuck on the freeway driving home , or at a genteel dinner party.

"Act in haste--repent in leisure" is an old saying indicative of the hit and miss nature of the quick response--it doesn't always work, in fact it frequently fails. Nonetheless ,in the face of failure, opposition ,and danger, nature has decreed that action is better than words.Apparently it has a better genomic track record.

Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
SoCal
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2013 - 08:28pm PT
I guess the Pope just said the Fundamentalist Christians are wrong about everything


Fundamentalists In Panic After Pope Declares Good Deeds More Important Than Faith

by Nathaniel Downes • May 24, 2013


With this week’s discussion of salvation, Pope Francis demonstrated a deep wisdom which has been lacking from the Holy See. Rather than proclaim that only through belief in Christ is one saved, Pope Francis made a remarkably different, and refreshing:

The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.

good for him, there is hope


Read more: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/05/24/fundamentalists-in-panic-after-pope-declares-good-deeds-more-important-than-faith/#ixzz2UG9uyQbB
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
SoCal
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2013 - 08:31pm PT
Credit: Dr. F.
Credit: Dr. F.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
May 24, 2013 - 10:20pm PT
^^^^ that thing is beautiful !!

Not just to my eyes, because of the shape and color.., but mostly because I can see that it acheived what it set out to do from its birth as a seed - till blossom. It acheived what it aspired to do.


good for him, there is hope

But to the pope; i say nope.

This is the negative side of saying something in a positive manner. Just because it makes you feel good doesn't make it the truth. Paul warned of this way back in Corinth.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
May 24, 2013 - 10:55pm PT
Athiests in heaven, hmm.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
May 24, 2013 - 11:37pm PT
^^^^ it wouldn't make sense, in a nature-ualistic manner.

Unles saying ur an atheist means you dont believe in Gods, or a one God,trinity,
Father-Son-Holy Ghost, type of "Creator", or any type of ominous, knowledgable, entiny.
That has any prior understanding or prediction in said atheist's life.

Is it that the atheist can't acknowledge that anyone( or anything) could have had a plan(or map) of their life before they were born?
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
May 24, 2013 - 11:43pm PT



 Afraid Pope Benedict is still wrong… There is no heaven, there is no hell… But at least he's more accepting of the different peoples of the world.
MH2

climber
May 24, 2013 - 11:49pm PT
I feel safe in guessing that our brains did not evolve to provide us with a dispassionate and comprehensive report of everything going on around us, nor to deal with weird stuff that psychologists may test us with.

I think that a good idea of the jobs our brains are tuned to handle can be seen today in what the Hadza do for a living and where they do it.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/12/hadza/finkel-text/1

BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
May 25, 2013 - 12:26am PT

… But at least he's more accepting of the different peoples of the world.

More accepting of what differences in people? The difference of good and evil? You surely know there's a difference?

Could you say, stealing is ok if you are hungry? Or killing someone is ok, if they killed someone else?

Is this the popes message? Maybe this is the message of Jesus?
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
May 25, 2013 - 01:32am PT
Is it that the atheist can't acknowledge that anyone( or anything) could have had a plan(or map) of their life before they were born?

No, it's that the atheist sees no the need for a 'plan'. And honestly, if this is your idea of a plan, then you really do need a god.
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