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Greta You say “An overwhelming body of evidence from the fields of neurology and neuropsychology strongly suggest that, whatever consciousness is, it is a biological product of the brain.” Once again I would distinguish between conscious awareness and the brain functions of thought perception personality etc. These references you cite are not describing consciousness or the cause of awareness, but the effects of consciousness within the brain. In my first post I described the case of a young lady whos heart stopped in the operating theatre after an horrific car accident. Her consciousness left her body and floated out of the operating theatre. Eventually she saw her relatives in the waiting room in another area of the Hospital. She was able to describe a conversation which took place between her Mother and Grandnother, in which the Grandmother who was a non smoker, asked the Mother for a cigarette. The Mother confirmed this conversation did in fact take place just as her daughter described. She went on to say there was no way her daughter could have known this unless she was actually there . This was reported in an episode of the program “I Survived” called “Death and Back” which aired on the Biography channel. The reason I repeat this anecdote is because it shows that consciousness may exist independently of the brain. This story cannot be explained away by an hallucination caused by lack of oxygen. If you watch this episode you may judge for yourself. There are numerous other documented examples where consciousness existed independently of the physical body http://www.victorzammit.com/book/chapter07.html These stories cannot be refuted on the grounds that there is no scientifically acceptable explanation for them. I include a short extract from the website for your convenience. There is also a detailed Bibliography provided. The consistency of OBEs Dr Dean Sheils analyzed over a thousand studies of OBEs in seventy non-Western cultures. His conclusive results showed that whereas it was expected that there would be significant variation in the experience there was absolute consistency. Dr Sheils claimed that the results were so universal that the phenomenon had to be genuine (Lazarus 1993: 167). Many of the literary giants of this century publicly stated that they had an OBE: Ernest Hemingway; Tolstoy; Dostoevsky; Tennyson; Edgar Alan Poe; D H Lawrence; Virginia Woolf (Lazarus 1993:166). Seven hundred cases A most highly credible scientist, Dr Robert Crookall, analyzed over seven hundred reports of OBEs. He found that 81% of those who had experienced them had a firm conviction of life after death owing to their personal experience. What astounded Crookall, a meticulous scientist, was the consistency of the reports of OBEs coming from all over the world with near death experiences and with the communications coming from high level mediums (Crookall 1970).
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Greta I read a book by a man named Eckhart Tolle called "The Power Of Now" This book describes the consciousness/mind connection. I based my observations in my previous post about the egos need for control on his ideas. Ironically it is the same dynamic driving religious dogmatism and atheism. I do not have a definition of God. There is no commonly accepted definition of God. That is why I do not even like to use the word. What do I believe? Perhaps even the word belief is a little presumptuous. My approach is to try and form a reasonable working hypothesis for understanding the nature of the Universe and our reality. I constantly refine my model based on new information. It is a work in progress. I have a degree in Chemistry, and I am confident that Darwins theory of evolution is correct. I have also read many books on metaphysics. There are definitely many gaps in our scientific understanding. I think about these ideas quite a lot and contemplate the nature of reality. The theory I have adopted so far is, this:- The Universe and everything in it were created by consciousness. I really cannot be more specific than that. This consciousness animates all life in the Universe. It is the same consciousness we all experience. It is the feeling of being alive or aware. This is contrary to the Atheistic viewpoint which I think says the Universe is here because its here, and any questions about its origins are meaningless. This is where I beg to differ from your viewpoint. Not that there is or is not a God, but that our Universe was created, and for this I can offer no proof whatsoever. I realize it is a slippery slope when you entertain ideas that cannot be scientifically proved. The source for my anecdote about the young lady injured in a car accident was from a Television program called "I Survived" and the name of the episode was "Death and Back". It describes three people who died and were brought back to life, who had extraordinary experiences while they were clinically dead. It was shown on the Biography channel. Here is a link to a short video extract of that episode http://www.biography.com/video.do?name=isurvived&bcpid=1859671334&bclid=35532232001&bctid=35570650001. This series "I Survived" does not normally deal with cases like this. Finally acupuncture may well be a "placebo" effect, but it definitely helps my wife.
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Thank you for your thoughtful response to my comment. I'm afraid you misunderstood me. I am not arguing in favor of the "God Hypothesis". I am saying that we are not limited to just two choices in searching for an explanations for our existence. Either the "God Hypothesis" or atheism. It is not that simple. The problem is with the word "God". Unfortunately because this word has acquired some very negative connotations, it has closed many peoples minds to other possibilities. There may be some things we will never understand about the universe and about ourselves. This is very unsatisfying to the ego, which always must be in control. Creating this false choice and then vigorously defending one side of it, does not really provide any answers, but it does give a sense of control which is very pleasing to the ego. Now to answer your points specifically:- "Change the brain chemistry, and consciousness/ self-awareness/ the qualia of experience all change. We don't know exactly how it does that... but the evidence is overwhelming that it does." Here you are mistaking the cause with the effect. It is true that perceptions, thoughts and emotions are susceptible to drugs. However all of these phenomena spring from the seat of our consciousness. They are attributes of consciousness Let me give an example. Say a beam of light is passing through a window. If we put some blue transparent plastic over the window, the light will appear to change. In this example the beam of light is our consciousness, and the window is the physical and biological processes which comprise our minds. The blue transparent plastic is a drug which alters our perceptions. In this example I am distinguishing between conscious awareness and the functions of the mind. Now to your point about evolution:- "Quite the contrary. If there had been a divine hand tinkering with the process, we would expect evolution to have proceeded radically differently than it has." Here you are making the assumption that if evolution were guided, it would proceed in a manner which you consider logical or orderly. This assumes a knowledge of the motives and intentions of the guider. Your objections to this perceived flaw prove nothing. In my previous post I referred to a number of metaphysical phenomena for which science has no explanation. The near death experience or NDE is one of these. It has certainly not been discredited as you assert. There have been numerous reports of this phenomena. I mentioned several of these reports. In particular, a case of a young woman who was involved in a horrible car accident. She was clinically dead for several minutes. During that time she found herself floating above her body and moving into other areas of the hospital until she saw her relatives sitting around in the waiting room. She overheard a conversation between her Mother and her Grandmother. The Grandmother was a non smoker asked for a cigarette from her Mother. She was able to describe this incident later much to the astonishment of everyone. I mention this case and the other cases in my previous post because they cannot be explained by that old chestnut of "diminished oxygen to the dying brain". It is certainly possible for all these people to have made it up and then conspired together. However it is hard to see what possible motive they could have to do so. In closing, my wife like you also suffers from knee pain. She gets real relief for her symptoms from an acupuncturist. The swelling is reduced, and she is able to climb stairs without pain.
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In your introduction you state:- "Therefore, atheism is just as much a matter of faith as religion. And atheists who think atheism is better supported by evidence are just as dogmatic and close-minded as religious believers." In support of this statement you cite several obviously wrong and completely ridiculous belief systems, which should be easily rejected by any sane educated person. However the logical flaw in your argument is that of all the infinite possible explanations for the existence of our Universe and ourselves, you reject the possibility that it/we might be the product of purposeful conscious creation. Without concrete evidence this does require a "leap of faith". Agnosticism is a more logical approach to the question. I believe the difficulty lies in the use of the word God to describe this being. Due to the negative influence of religions, hijacking this word and narrowing the meaning to describe a hateful vindictive male entity. It is no wonder that no rational person would want to believe in such a thing. The truth is that nobody really knows the answer to this question and probably never will. I have a good solid background in Science, and I have no belief in a particular religion or the contents of the Bible or any other so called "Holy Book". That said despite our impressive Scientific achievements in understanding our Physical reality, there is still much to be learned. It is quite possible that some aspects of our Universe, such as the phenomena of consciousness for example are not accessible to the scientific process. Your article describes thinking and perception in a very mechanistic way. Describing experiments which highlight areas of the brain which become excited when experiencing certain stimuli for example. This does not explain the phenomena of conscious awareness. as opposed to when the brain is engaged in perceiving, thinking or remembering. I am speaking of pure conscious awareness, the experience of being alive. If you can stop the constant stream of thoughts in your head, there is still a sensation of being, or just the feeling pure awareness. What is that feeling? How could you describe it scientifically? There is no doubt that evolution is correct, and it plays an important role in the development of species. However this neither proves nor disproves anything. There have been at least two articles in Scientific American recently in which the author of the paper attempts to explain the existence of life based purely on classical chemistry and physics. It is true that certain amino acids will form in the presence of water nitrogen and lightning. However this is a long way from dna or even rna. In each article the authors ultimately resorted to describing the chemical soup from which life emerged as if it were purposefully attempting to create life. At some point they begin describing it no longer as just a collection of chemical molecules, but rather as if it were trying to assemble itself into a very specific configuration, compatible with the creation of life. In fact there is no credible description for how life was created. We simply do not know. There are many examples of people who experience conscious awareness beyond the physical confines of their body. It can happen during what is known as a NDE or Near Death Experience. During surgical procedures or after accidents, people have reported being aware of leaving their bodies but still retaining their sense of self awareness. More importantly some of them in their disembodied state have overheard discussions between their relatives gathered outside in the waiting room and reported them later much to the amazement of their relatives. Others are able to describe medical procedures being performed on them while their doctors worked on them. These people who had no medical training were able to describe what the doctors did, and many details of their time in the operating theater, all while their eyes were taped shut, and their hearts had stopped beating, i.e. they were "clinically dead". There are some people who have the ability to intuit the future, and others who are able to communicate with spirits. Unfortunately there are some who have no talent in this direction, but would rather take advantage of grieving relatives for monetary gain. This has discredited the few genuine people that have the gift and bought the whole subject into disrepute. "Lisa Williams" is an example of a genuine psychic. Even the physical body is not that well understood by modern medicine. In China they have studied the subject of subtle energy or "chi" for centuries, and use it to effectively cure many medical conditions, manipulating the bodies energy field with acupuncture needles at certain specific points. Do these subtle energy fields exist? I am not claiming to know any more about these things than anyone else, however, I like to keep an open mind on the subject. There are simply too many unexplained phenomena to ignore, I think it would be prudent refrain from making any assertions about these deeper questions and wait until there is more evidence, for or against.
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Is this thread closed I cant post?
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