How Consciousness Could End the War Between Science and Religion
I am not drawn to lost causes, and therefore I'd like to guide the debate away from religion. And because religion is the primary form of spirituality in most people's lives, we'll have to step away from spirituality, too, at least at first. There should be renewed admiration for science's attempts to answer the fundamental mysteries. These are well-known by now:
- How did the universe come about?
- What caused life to emerge from a soup of inorganic chemicals?
- Can evolution explain all of human development?
- What are the basic forces in nature?
- How does the brain produce intelligence?
- What place do human beings occupy in the cosmos?
What happens when you add consciousness to the mix?
The practical application of consciousness seems remote compared to technology. Would you rather be enlightened or own an iPad? In modern society, the choice is all too obvious. But it's a false choice because people don't realize that the things they most cherish and desire are born in consciousness: love, happiness, freedom from fear, the absence of depression and a vision of the future. We achieve all these things when consciousness is healthy, open, alert and expansive. We lose them when consciousness is cramped, constricted, confused and detached from its source.
I receive Google alerts every day telling me one skeptic or another calls these considerations "woo." It's not my role to defeat skepticism, which amounts in practice to a conspiracy for the suppression of curiosity. Science advances through data and experiments, but those in turn depend upon theory. Theory is the flashlight that tells an experimenter where to look; without it, he wanders at random. His data doesn't fit into a world view. I consider myself scientific at heart, so I depend upon a theory as well. Its basic premises are as follows:
- We live in a universe that exhibits intelligence, self-regulation and creativity.
- Consciousness preceded the brain. It created life and went on to create the brain itself.
- Consciousness is primary in the world; matter is secondary.
- Evolution is conscious and therefore creative. It isn't random.
- At the source of creation, one finds a field of pure awareness.
- Pure awareness is the source of every manifest quality in the universe.
In fact, nothing could be more relevant. While the general public sees atheists mounting windy charge against superstitious believers, neither side is moving forward. The future lies with anyone who seriously delves into consciousness. Why? Because with physics arriving at the quantum world, neuroscience at the most minuscule operations of brain cells and biology at the finest fabrics of DNA, all three have hit a wall. At the finest level, nature is too complex to unravel through such weak ideas as randomness, materialism and unconscious mechanics. Nature behaves, and as we know from ourselves, behavior is tricky. Science has tons of data about phenomena that don't fit any explanation. For example:
- How does an observer cause light to change from acting like a wave to acting like a particle?
- How can a group of ordinary people cause a random number generator to turn out more 1s than 0s simply by wanting it to?
- How do millions of monarch butterflies migrate to the same mountainous regions of Mexico when they've never been there before and were not born there?
- How do twins connect at a distance, so that one knows immediately when the other has been hurt or dies?
- Where in the brain does the self live? Why do I feel like myself and no one else?
- I already know the answer in advance, which makes you automatically wrong.
- I disdain your beliefs.
- You're a fraud with dishonest motives.
- I only want to make you look bad.
- You don't know as much science as I do, or perhaps none at all.
- Speculative thinking is foolish, superstitious or both.
- I'm here to win, not to find out the truth.
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