Wednesday, November 12, 2008

God and Conscoiusness

There are those who think that its contradictory of me to use analogies for God like Buddhism's Buddha mind or the Hegelian dialectic and still hold out that God loves and works miracles. This is not inconsistent, I think these people have lot sight of have lost sight of the fact that everything said about God is metaphor. All religious language is analogical. We cannot speak directly about God because we can't have direct absolute knowledge about God.

In saying that my view of God is analogus to things like he Buddha mind, I am not saying that God is an impersonal force. I never said that I thought that and Tillch never said that.Tillich said that God contains the structure from which personal nature of man is derived, the "personal itself." God is the basis of consciousness.

We need to keep in mind that God is beyond the threshold of human understanding. We can only a few things that are logically derived, such as God's eternal nature but not the personal nature or what it would be like. But it would be foolish to try and decide what God can do an what he can't do. It's just as foolish to say "God can't work miracles" as it is to say "God is a big man in the sky."

Just because we don't know the mechanisms for things doesn't mean they can't be. We don't know anything. We as a species know next to nothing about all that could be known, I'm sure (that's a guess obviously). Atheists are so narrow minded they are afraid to speculate or to ask questions about the nature of the universe. They pretend to but you have to ask the question they want asked and don't ever ask the one's they can't answer.

Perhaps faith is the mechinism that leads to healing. It's clear that one must be in 'the zone' to get healing. But be that as it may we can't rule out anything. God doesn't have to be a big man in the sky to have a form of consciousness. Its' a higher level of consciousness, one we can't understand, but it's still consciousness.

Consciousness itself is not anthropomorphic. You think it is because you are only willing to think about it in terms of what we know, and you never admit how limited our understanding is.If consciousness is just an individual effort that comes with brain function then God can't be conscious, or if he was he would have to be the big man in the sky. But God is beyond our understanding. We can't pin him down by saying he can't be conscious or work miracles anymore than we can say he is a big man in the sky.

There are thinkers and even scientist who are willing to question our presuppositions abut consciousness and nature. If consciousness a basic property of nature than ti's more than brain function and property of individual organisms, then God can be basis of the consciousness.

There is a physicist at Cambrige who studies with Hawking, Peter Russell. Here's what he says:

The 'Hard Problem' of Consciousness

The really hard problem-as David Chalmers, professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona, has said-is consciousness itself. Why should the complex processing of information in the brain lead to an inner experience? Why doesn't it all go on in the dark, without any subjective aspect? Why do we have any inner life at all?

This paradox-namely, the absolutely undeniable existence of human consciousness set against the complete absence of any satisfactory scientific account for it-suggests to me that something is seriously amiss with the contemporary scientific worldview. For a long time I could not put my finger on exactly what it was. Then suddenly, about four years ago on a flight back to San Francisco, I saw where the error lay.

If consciousness is not some emergent property of life, as Western science supposes, but is instead a primary quality of the cosmos-as fundamental as space, time, and matter, perhaps even more fundamental-then we arrive at a very different picture of reality. As far as our understanding of the material world goes, nothing much changes; but when it comes to our understanding of mind, we are led to a very different worldview indeed. I realized that the hard problem of consciousness was not a problem to be solved so much as the trigger that would, in time, push Western science into what the American philosopher Thomas Kuhn called a "paradigm shift."

The continued failure of science to make any appreciable headway into this fundamental problem suggests that, to date, all approaches may be on the wrong track. They are all based on the assumption that consciousness emerges from, or is dependent upon, the physical world of space, time, and matter. In one way or another they are trying to accommodate the anomaly of consciousness within a worldview that is intrinsically materialist. As happened with the medieval astronomers, who kept adding more and more epicycles to explain the anomalous motions of the planets, the underlying assumptions are seldom, if ever, questioned.

I now believe that rather than trying to explain consciousness in terms of the material world, we should be developing a new worldview in which consciousness is a fundamental component of reality. The key ingredients for this new paradigm-a "superparadigm"-are already in place. We need not wait for any new discoveries. All we need do is put various pieces of our existing knowledge together, and consider the new picture of reality that emerges.

Consciousness and Reality

Because the word "consciousness" can be used in so many different ways, confusion often arises around statements about its nature. The way I use the word is not in reference to a particular state of consciousness, or particular way of thinking, but to the faculty of consciousness itself-the capacity for inner experience, whatever the nature or degree of the experience.

A useful analogy is the image from a video projector. The projector shines light onto a screen, modifying the light so as to produce any one of an infinity of images. These images are like the perceptions, sensations, dreams, memories, thoughts, and feelings that we experience-what I call the "contents of consciousness." The light itself, without which no images would be possible, corresponds to the faculty of consciousness.

We know all the images on the screen are composed of this light, but we are not usually aware of the light itself; our attention is caught up in the images that appear and the stories they tell. In much the same way, we know we are conscious, but we are usually aware only of the many different experiences, thoughts, and feelings that appear in the mind. We are seldom aware of consciousness itself. Yet without this faculty there would be no experience of any kind.

The faculty of consciousness is one thing we all share, but what goes on in our consciousness, the content of our consciousness, varies widely. This is our personal reality, the reality we each know and experience. Most of the time, however, we forget that this is just our personal reality and think we are experiencing physical reality directly. We see the ground beneath our feet; we can pick up a rock, and throw it through the air; we feel the heat from a fire, and smell its burning wood. It feels as if we are in direct contact with the world "out there." But this is not so. The colors, textures, smells, and sounds we experience are not really "out there"; they are all images of reality constructed in the mind.

It was this aspect of perception that most caught my attention during my studies of experimental psychology (and amplified by my readings of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant). At that time, scientists were beginning to discover the ways in which the brain pieces together its perception of the world, and I was fascinated by the implications of these discoveries for the way we construct our picture of reality. It was clear that what we perceive and what is actually out there are two different things.

This, I know, runs counter to common sense. Right now you are aware of the pages in front of you, various objects around you, sensations in your own body, and sounds in the air. Even though you may understand that all of this is just your reconstruction of reality, it still seems as if you are having a direct perception of the physical world. And I am not suggesting you should try to see it otherwise. What is important for now is the understanding that all our experience is an image of reality constructed in the mind.

Now of course there are thsoe who say I'm trying to have it both ways. I am trying to have God be an impersonal force and a man in the sky, (the big guy in the sky). The reason they think that is because they don't understand the concept of mystery. The think it has to be either one or the other of who stark literalistic choices. But the reason its' not having it both way is because of the limiations I'm willing to put on it.

Since I have stipulated a range of attributes that we can rule out,such as the ability to do nonsense, or to defy logically necessity, then clearly I'm willing to limit the concept. Since I've stipulated that "personal nature" is not a primary attribute of God --not one of those things that makes him uniquely God--then clealry I'm not trying to have it both ways.

I've trying to account for the things I've seen in the most intelligent framework I can come up with.


tinythinker said...

You'd figure an open-minded agnostic type wouldn't object to exploring the kinds of possibilities Russell is espousing. I wonder how many atheist/agnostic folks would agree?

J.L. Hinman said...

The first thing the clowns on CARM will do is make fun of his "new age" style beliefs about TM.

J.L. Hinman said...

O right I see, you said "open minded" so why am I talking about anyone on carM?