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Hi Lobber,
"A house divided against itself cannot stand." is from the Bible. And it was quoted by Abraham Lincoln in one of his speeches about a country divided on the question of slavery during the civil war.

I can see that you are an explorer too Lobber, perhaps just starting your journey. Let me encourage you to keep the effort going by reading and studying as much as you can about the Bible, other religious texts and parapsychological literature as they might relate to the spirit world and an afterlife. A lot of what you read will have to be considered 'with a grain of salt', that is, take it in, keep an open mind but remember that what you read was written through the mind of man and may not be exactly the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Question everything and come to your own conclusions. Even after I have read much and thought about these things for a lifetime, there are times when doubt still takes over my mind and I find myself in the pit of despair not believing in anything. - AOD

I think the answer to the "Brain vs Mind" is probably somewhere between the two. We, our consciousness, personality, etc. is separate from our brains, but both influence the other. We have built in instincts such as self-preservation, yanking our feet away from a falling knife, looking for food when we get hungry, etc. and we can consciously choose to act contrary to those instincts. We can charge into dangerous situations to save others, we can choose to fast or starve ourselves, and we can act in many other ways that are contrary to the view of a biological machine who's imperative is to stay alive at all costs.

One other reason I think the brain can function separately from the mind is dreams. Whenever I take naps, it takes me a while to "fade out" and I very often notice my thoughts seeming to act on their own without any effort on my part. I'll be thinking about something I need to do after the nap is over, only for my thoughts to suddenly start wandering off and doing random things. It's a bizzare sensation, to say the least, especially since it's happening on two levels:

Level 1: Random thoughts I have nothing to do with.

Level 2: My thoughts on observing level 1

Though I don't have this same awareness when dreaming during normal sleep, it does raise some interesting questions: When my brain is dreaming and then becomes aware that it's dreaming even while the dream is continuing on its own, is it a case of the brain deceiving itself while being aware that it's deceiving itself? Likewise, are deathbed visions really hallucinations of a dying brain that it conjures to comfort itself without trying to make itself aware of that fact?

Now, it's possible that our selves, our conciousness really is all in the brain; Phineas Gage is a good example of how damage to the brain can affect our personality, and anyone who's seen the effects of Dementia and Alzheimers can attest to how a person can change completely, and that's not even touching on the weirdness that is Alien Hand Syndrome. But it's also possible, going to the TV reception analogy, that when our brain is damaged, we, our consciousness, is still forced to interact with the world through it, and as a result of disturbed hormones, tissue damage, etc. we are not the same we were before.

Personally, I find it more likely that mind and brain are separate, but also dependent on each other. And if the mind/consciousness/soul can be hindered when the physical body is damaged, then that also means that when the body dies, it is restored to wholeness. For the sake of everyone who has ever suffered mental illness, I hope that's true.

AOD: Are you Jewish? It's just that your rationale reminds me of that of my Jewish friends.

@ Julie. i was going qualify that statement. I am familiar with IQ tests. Heres why I say they are some what culturally biased. Although they endeavour to test traits used by all cultures e.g. data processing, problem solving, reading comprehension, spacial processing etc.

Education systems differ hugely in the world. I know here in Thailand, the quality is generally poor, with much of the lessons incorporating rote learning, not creative problem solving.

My daughter on the other hand went to a English International school here which does the International Baccalaureate and uses similar teaching methods to those of European schools.

Most of the types of questions in the IQ tests, they are well familiar with and would have done similar if not some of the same questions at school. Therefore an IQ test would not phase them. One of the methods of teaching maths for example and implemented through a number of different grades. Was mental maths- they had to answer maths problems for one hour in the morning as fast as possible, by problem solving in their heads without paper. This was to encourage creative problem solving and fast data processing.

The quality of teaching in many european schools (not all ) is generally better than some cultures, many for example are still developing. So children from different cultures sit these tests with vastly differing skill sets Lyn x.

By the way, I'n not saying its necessarily the fault of an IQ test that some cultures have better skill sets in line with it. It's a difficult problem to create a fair test, and just how it is.

Cheers Lyn.

Another thought. In a truly materialist world, why would humans (i.e., their brains) act as though they do? I read someone something that stuck with me: we spend an *awful* lot of time maintaining the integrity of our egos and emotional states, to a degree that would appear greatly contrary to evolutionary fitness.

If we are just animals who need to survive and reproduce, those two things being the *only* things that favor our genes and thus influence the characteristics of future generations, then why should we worry so much about *ourselves*? Some degree of continuity in memory and mind makes sense, but the following do not:

• Holding onto childhood trauma, often for a lifetime.

• Grieving over the death of a loved one, often for years.

• Grieving over the loss of a sexual relationship (move on, reproduce!).

• Fretting managing one's pride and self-image to an inordinate degree.

• Worry about spirituality (why would people invest so much time in something that doesn't exist at all?!).

Really, is there much of a need to feel that we are the same people from day to day and year to year, other than in a superficial way? In a truly material world, I don't think any of the above makes sense. But in a spiritual world, it certainly does.

Julie,
My great, great grandfather was an English Jew who married an Irish Catholic. I am a ? - AOD

Ian said ". . . when our brain is damaged, we, our consciousness, is still forced to interact with the world through it, and as a result of disturbed hormones, tissue damage, etc. we are not the same we were before."


Yes, Ian I think that I generally agree with that thought. In the last months of my mother's life she developed senile dementia and was confused at times. In her last few months while in a nursing home she would say, "Why am I like this?" I could tell that the consciousness and emotions that I had known for more than 70 years was still there, intact but was having difficulty with a body and brain that was not functioning the way it used to. In a way she was just like someone who had had a stroke and couldn't use an arm or leg any more . It was just her brain that she couldn't use any more. - AOD

"In a truly material world, I don't think any of the above makes sense."

Good point, Matt. I might add that it's hard to see the biological utility and survival value of composing sonnets or symphonies, solving quadratic equations, pursuing knowledge for its own sake, holding on to an unpopular point of view that makes you a social outcast, or choosing celibacy and asceticism, among many other things that humans do.

In fact, taken to its extreme, materialism becomes a kind of philistinism, which has no room for art, poetry, music, spiritual seeking, or even pure (non-utilitarian) science. And though it may celebrate the lonely pioneers of knowledge who had to struggle against conventional wisdom, it really has no right to claim them as its champions, since they would have won more social acceptance (with correspondingly greater chances to produce offspring) if they had given up their quest and simply gone along with everyone else.

Micheal,

Yes, it's amazing how ignorant some materialists are about their heroes. Newton Newton Newton. Who died a virgin, made most of his discoveries before 30, and spent most of the rest of his many years on earth studying the occult.

It's actually rather hard to find a materialist icon among the great thinkers, but they will claim whomever they want as being on their side.

When we look at nature, we see utter chaos with organisms of all kind desperately trying to stay alive and killing (even their own) to do so. It all seems purposeless, and random. Human observation and reflection appear to give it meaning, but that can be argued as a mere byproduct of the ability to think critically and reason, which, arguably, was developed as a method to survive under nature's wrath against every element of nature that has kept human kind at bay for millennia. Thinking spiritually may be just a byproduct of the awareness that helps us cope with permanent extinction. Conscious awareness puts us on top and gives us that advantage to develop the world for our benefit. It's not perfect, but evolutionary theory never claimed to be.

Is the world material? This may well be deemed a fallacy.

As to whether a lot of what we do has biological utility - I think its hard to say.

We aren't Neanderthal man anymore, with our life and needs revolved around hunting and gathering.- when survival of the fittest was more apparent. And early man has been shown to show some forms of ritual- or spiritual seeking. Even asceticism (oft debated), as we live in communities and have a need for companionship, these surely involve traits such as showing care for others, giving etc.

We buy our meat at the supermarket, go to jobs in a city, use the internet etc. So our needs, wants, desires are totally different. Those with physical disability also survive now- so survival of the fittest is not exactly true anymore.

I think if our brains are shown to tab matter, and the environment helps to form our brain structure. we're really just creatures of our environment. So what we prize, need, want in our species, must be in line with that niche.

Although you could say obsession with selfie's, attractiveness in the opposite sex, fitness etc, are thinly veiled means of perpetuating survival beliefs.

Even going against the consensus, I suspect has benefits- leaders do it all the time. A sense of pride, standing up for what you believe or hold deep in your heart. Very human traits I think.

Just musing, after all many of the assumptions we make of our world are likely wrong. Its fast seeming that way at least to me.

Cheers Lyn.


Lyn
I hunt and gather every time I go to the grocery store. ;)

It's just that I don't have to kill or slash my way through the brushes and brambles to get what I need. Actually without some of my brothers (and sisters) killing and gathering for me, I'm sure I would quickly revert to hunting and gathering in the wild for myself to stay alive. At my age I would be left behind however and it would be time for me to find the nearest iceberg to float away on. - AOD

Sleepers wrote,

||When we look at nature, we see utter chaos with organisms of all kind desperately trying to stay alive and killing (even their own) to do so.||

I think the tendency for humans has been to apply a template of order on the world, whether true or false. I don't think we "see utter chaos" unless that's our mindset. The trouble with materialism is that there is no external source of truth to confirm your perception of order or chaos. It's just your thought, your opinion.

||It all seems purposeless, and random.||

This too!

||Human observation and reflection appear to give it meaning,||

So do we see utter chaos or meaning?

||but that can be argued as a mere byproduct of the ability to think critically and reason, which, arguably, was developed as a method to survive under nature's wrath against every element of nature that has kept human kind at bay for millennia.||

So if seeing the meaning is adaptive, then is the meaning there or not?

||Thinking spiritually may be just a byproduct of the awareness that helps us cope with permanent extinction.||

The thing is, why cope? Sure, all animals avoid death *in the moment,* but I think a much, *much* better coping mechanism in the face of awareness of death is simply not to care about it all that much.

||Conscious awareness puts us on top and gives us that advantage to develop the world for our benefit. It's not perfect, but evolutionary theory never claimed to be.||

True.

"Most of history is the story of human beings trying to hold nature at bay - and for good reason, since nature, for the most part, wants to kill us and eat us! "

That really made me laugh.

Now I'm probably going to upset some people - I'm not a Paleo advocate for that reason too- as one scientist said, why pick that era? We were evolving before that and our genes have been evolving ever since. I notice very recent research suggests that the Italian way of eating is still a good one- but would benefit by being tweaked with three whole grain meals a day. Suggesting this can prevent Alzheimer's by as much as 53% - and this is a large study. Perhaps as whole grains have a lot of B vitamins essential to neurone health. Science has it's good points, we are learning more than we used to know in the good old days - even cancer, atherosclerosis, arthritis etc, are all diseases that come from our evolutionary past.

Perhaps having evolved a bigger forebrain - used for critical thinking, may also mean we are less creatures governed by instinct now than ever.

I remember years ago reading of an experiment for example in which they stated although they could get chickens to hit a ball with a bat, they couldn't prevent them from pecking at it, i.e. instinct over rode learned behaviour. And the picture in my head just cracked me up- chickens hitting a ball with a bat? But then I guess you could tape it to their wings. I don't know, something like that, lol.

Lyn x.

||Human observation and reflection appear to give it meaning,||

I think this is true. IMO, All people and cultures have always created myths to explain what it's all about and what each individual's role in it is.

A good myth works because it addresses all of the different kinds of experiences - internal and external - that humans have. And it addresses them in a way that resonates as being true. A bad myth fails to function as a road map for society and individuals because there are too many gaps between it and what people experience and/or there is a lack of resonance with the people. They can't fully relate to it.

Science/Materialism as religion is a bad myth.

However, the old religions - like the Bible - are also bad myths for us moderns.

There is a real danger when people take their myth(s) as being literally true. They lose the sense of awe, perception narrows and they fight wars against people who believe, often just as stridently, in other myths.

The idea that there is a single objective all encompassing TRUTH out there that we could discover and own is a little crazy, IMO. Yet, this is what Materialist Science tells us; as do certain religions when taken in their concrete form.

All I know is that the older I get, the more interested I am in the truth as I know it (the truth of me) and less interested I am in finding an objective truth that applies to all. I am much happier and peaceful the further down this road I go.
True and False are becoming less meaningful distinctions.

"When we look at nature, we see utter chaos with organisms of all kind desperately trying to stay alive and killing (even their own) to do so. It all seems purposeless, and random."

I agree. However, that is not against the cases of apparitions, mediumship, etc. that are pointing to the existence of an afterlife, because these phenomena are compatible with a purely naturalistic world.

"In a truly materialist world, why would humans (i.e., their brains) act as though they do? I read someone something that stuck with me: we spend an *awful* lot of time maintaining the integrity of our egos and emotional states, to a degree that would appear greatly contrary to evolutionary fitness."

Well, according to evolutionism, not everything has to be evolutionary advantage. That can cultural products not governed by biological evolution.

Sleepers: || Human observation and reflection appear to give it (nature) meaning, but that can be argued as a mere byproduct of the ability to think critically and reason, which, arguably, was developed as a method to survive under nature's wrath against every element of nature that has kept human kind at bay for millennia. ||

For me the evidence for human evolution from paleontology, anthropology and archaeology is very persuasive. It looks like everything that makes us human in the present world was gradually constructed over vast periods of time through two major forces: over the greatest expanse of time a natural biological evolutionary process, and most recently in particular with Homo Sapiens, cultural/social evolution. When considering prehominid and hominid evolution over the last several million years the main driving forces appear to have been random circumstances, and latterly, human creativity - no external inputs from spiritual sources seem to be required for explanation.

In this context the spiritual world view that the human is a reflection of the Divine, or at least of innate qualities of the Soul, and spiritual teachings in general including New Age thinking and channelling seems jarringly incompatible.

However, there is still a vast body of evidence for the paranormal and for survival, that has to be recognized in order to be rational and objective.

One solution to this apparent conundrum would be, as Juan is saying, that these phenomena are indeed real and there is some form of survival of some sort, but that this does not imply the reality of the various "spiritual" belief systems. Unfortunately, this resolution of the apparent incompatibility of two bodies of evidence would make some spiritual world views and teachings derived from paranormal sources invalid (such as those coming from deep NDEs and other instances of "cosmic consciousness").

This is kind of unpalatable, but seems to be a rational resolution of the problem.

Great comments, no one!

Juan wrote,

||Well, according to evolutionism, not everything has to be evolutionary advantage. That can cultural products not governed by biological evolution.||

Right, there will always be "spandrels" and things that are disadvantageous that trade-offs with things that are advantageous (such as the gene that conveys resistance to malaria causing sickle cell anemia in a subset of the population that has it).

BUT, the emotional life of humans would seem in *very* large part to be disadvantageous to fitness. And its such a major part of our existence that I don't think it can be written off as either spandrel or reasonable tradeoff. It's at our core. We simply burn too much time and energy on things that don't help us fit into society, reproduce, or contribute to the continuance of the species as a whole.

"BUT, the emotional life of humans would seem in *very* large part to be disadvantageous to fitness."

But that will not be as important for fitness as humans have developed an overpopulation, right?

Juan,

||But that will not be as important for fitness as humans have developed an overpopulation, right?||

Well... in a spiritual universe, having spiritual yearnings probably *is* required to be as fit as humans are. So we are back to Ian's point about the falsifiability of fundamentals.

I think the point still holds that, in a material universe, there is no incentive to develop characteristics that could be described as "spiritual."

"True or False are becoming less meaningful distinctions"

Agreed. Which brings us to a type of 'moral relativism' that's based solely on opinion, as Matt eludes to. Is the world meaningful? Well, no two people see the world in the exact same way. Does this throw out any type of natural law? If there's no natural law and the way we are is what we create, then, well, that, to me, lends itself more to the chaos theory of the world. If I see everything as a miracle, then it's a miracle, if it's not, it's not.

That being said, I agree with Juan that the evidence for the paranormal is extremely compelling. And the chaos theory does nothing to even dent that evidence. But the old question of why extremely bad things happen (things that can be worse than death - inter family child sexual abuse, extreme forms of torture - things of that caliber), appear to have no reason to exist outside of some very primal reptilian longings. It makes little sense at all. Most of what we hear does not jive with a world that is meaningful, but rather of living creatures terrorizing each other (and I know it's my opinion and perception of the world).

I definitely enjoy your posts Matt and truly appreciate what you have to say. Your knowledge on these matters (along with the other frequent flyers), far surpass my own. I am firmly and steadfastly convinced (unless shown differently why I'm wrong) that there is something much greater and deeper in this world. I don't know what it is, or how the hell it functions, but it's there.

I take the "materialist mantra" here because Im thoroughly convinced by their logic and views of the world, as far as that goes, when I look around at the incredible suffering around the world and think "they might be on to something". Knowing there's a greater force at work (again, whatever that is), and seeing with our own eyes the real picture from an earthbound perspective, makes it hard to make those ever evasive connections.

the final debunking of the Olaf Blanke OBE imposture( only in french, sorry )
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I550cpA0FQ8

Sleepers,

Thanks! I agree that the "problem of evil" is sufficient proof against the Abrahamic "God," but that merely leaves us with a different type of Divine, and a better one, I think...

Doubter -Although you suggest we have not had spiritual inputs, I disagree.

Throughout early history- Hinduism we know predated Christianity - people have adhered to religious beliefs, devotions, gods etc, for thousands of years. Religion entirely governed society up until recent times and people have experienced near death and unusual spiritual phenomena throughout history as well. We also know that early man laid out his dead using ritual as some of these ornaments have survived. We just can't interview them I guess and ask for example whether they have used PSI, had OBE's, seen spirits and communicated with the dead!

I don't think its rational to assume that all the unusual phenomena that humans undergo is illogical either, or debunk it simply as it cannot be explained by an existing materialist paradigm.

Or that materialism is the entire truth ( a fait accompli ). Just as plants and animals are ever physically evolving, so is our thinking and understanding.

And a species whether it is a plant, fish, mammal etc; has to adapt to its environment in order to survive i.e. Darwin theory. Just living on the planet, ensures you evolve.

Since the double split experiments we know materialism does not explain quantum mechanics. We also now know that - we influence matter, that a scientific measure cannot be precise due to our influencing the results of an outcome, and that consciousness travels outside our body i.e. it affects our environment. Personally I think this opens a means to explain phenomena such as PSI, OBE'S and even possibly NDE.

After all, when we talk of PSI, OBE's etc, much like the double slit experiment- we are talking about the measure of consciousness. So it makes sense to apply quantum measures rather than material ones.

It seems apparent to me, that physicists have for sometime had trouble letting go of seeing a material measure in science as the ultimate truth. A big part of the problem I think is quantum physics is hard to understand, even for physicists, and its even harder to do and it takes a lot of money. It may even take a physicist working career, to have developed the ability to carry out a measure. So scientists stick with good old easy material experiments- to measure the causal variables and their effect on another. You get it published, you make some money, you get your name out there etc, etc. Lyn x.

le francais,
Quelle surprise! les Sceptiques ont menti. Je n'aurait jamais devine ;-)

http://www.techswarm.com/2015/05/consciousness-does-not-compute-and.html
May be this is OOT, but it's a very exciting news!

Lynn: || Doubter -Although you suggest we have not had spiritual inputs, I disagree.||

By suggesting there is no need to postulate external inputs I was referring mainly to the apparent sources of material cultural/technological innovation over the ages. It doesn't seem to be necessary to postulate any sources for this new information that were other than entirely "home grown" or internal in origin, with each slow and painful advance in thought, ideas, understanding of the world, and technology coming about purely from creative and imaginative human beings, based on the previous stage of knowledge. Certainly the spiritual realm has not seen fit to alleviate at least some suffering by merely transmitting a little basic information once in a while. For example, about the germ theory of disease as it relates to the bubonic plague.

But even beyond the area of material culture, spiritual systems seem also to have gone through an evolutionary process apparently based at least to a major degree on the gradual development of human ideas. Of course we can postulate that also mixed in this there has been an element of progressive enlightenment from an external source.

"It doesn't seem to be necessary to postulate any sources for this new information that were other than entirely "home grown" or internal in origin, with each slow and painful advance in thought, ideas, understanding of the world, and technology coming about purely from creative and imaginative human beings, based on the previous stage of knowledge"

Doubter, how I see it is.. you could argue that the whole of human life is about the evolution of a species- we came down from the trees, grew a bigger forebrain, hunted and gathered, then learnt to cultivate crops and breed animals, subsequently taking advantage of what our environment supplied us with to create stone, metal, technology etc, over time.

At the same time, the physical and mental challenges in life / experiences brought about an evolution in people / a species, thinking and understanding. And this knowledge base has allowed them to investigate our world / universe, and finally ask the bigger questions about our existence, the universe etc.

To me this leads to the other question that has long been debated on this site - internal input.

"Certainly the spiritual realm has not seen fit to alleviate at least some suffering by merely transmitting a little basic information once in a while".

I guess you could say life is all about experience- the good, and the bad. And I suggest that by having bad experiences, we learn more than perpetually only having good ones- although this would be impossible in life anyway.

I think too, that if human life is a but a speck of a continued life of what we call 'after death'. A life of a human is an experiential learning curve. And helps to puts suffering into perspective.

Sure this is just conjecture, we don't know- science is still evolving. But I think the many spiritual phenomena experienced by our species over time really does suggest there are spiritual inputs to aid people and advance our species.

I am rereading George Riches book- Ordered To Return, where he talks of visiting a 'mental' realm where spirits worked on intellectual, scientific, and religious knowledge for example.

"The beings were more advanced". " motivated by making the universe a better place to live. They were so advanced it would be like taking my six year old son to the research laboratory of Virginia and expecting him to comprehend". Mellon Thomas experienced much the same. Seeing angelic beings or receiving help from spiritual beings is also common.

Many major discoveries/ inventions have also been shown to come in dreams.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/12763/11-creative-breakthroughs-people-had-their-sleep

Even Einstein's relativity theory he himself suggests, was prompted by a dream.

So as I mentioned before, as we evolve as a species and learn more about the universe, perhaps we will come to understand the quantum affects on reality. This alone well may lead us to a better understanding of consciousness, how it survives outside the body, creates PSI, OBE's, tabs our universe etc. Along with the vast spiritual phenomena indicating a possible afterlife. Lyn x.

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