Melding the worlds of Science and Consciousness Part 1
Melding the worlds of Science and Consciousness
For years I’ve marveled at how the world of science and the world of consciousness have been kept firmly and thoroughly apart. You almost never read in science websites or books or magazines about anything other than the physical sciences. And on the other hand sites and books about consciousness, including those about imagination, spirit, religion, faith, or even psychology, rarely talk about the physical sciences. It is as if they dislike each other so much they can’t even bear to mention the other’s name.
That may be a bit overdrawn, but it is not easy to find people who pull these things together.
I have read, and tried mightily to understand, books written by physical scientists from various disciplines about cosmology—how everything came to be. I’ve also read a biography of Einstein and learned that he unsuccessfully labored for the last decades of his life trying to come up with a single “theory of everything.” What he meant by this, however, was everything physical. I don’t believe he ever thought he was trying to explain where consciousness came from. That just wasn’t his concern.
Maybe I’ve just missed it, but my rather random reading list hasn’t come across scientists such as theoretical physicists talking about things like consciousness and imagination. Even my beloved futurist and all-around hero Ray Kurzweil barely mentions these topics in his books. If I’ve missed it, please enlighten me with reading suggestions!
Alternatively, I thought that perhaps in archeology, anthropology or psychology there might be some effort to reconcile these two worlds. This search has been a little more rewarding. We have many social scientists, folklorists and others pointing out that there are ancient stories from cultures all over the earth that are highly similar. These are often handed down verbally, or carved in tablets or on the sides of megalithic structures. They have been the subject of art since art first appeared. The scholars investigating such things call them myths or archetypes or some other words that generally implies that they are the products of the human imagination.
OK, so where do all these similar things come from? What’s the “Big Bang” theory in this area? My readings have shown that many have ventured opinions as to the source of this art and these images and why there is such worldwide similarity. Some attribute all this to Man’s desperate need for answers to the BIG QUESTIONS such as “Where did we come from? Why are we here?” They say these stories are a reflection of the answers we’ve come up with. Yet others disagree. They say that these stories are based on something that actually happened in the “real world.”
If one accepts this last perspective, then all these similar stories and images are not really a result of “imagination” but rather of “recollection.” If you accept that the stories on the Sumerian tablets are actual accounts of a time when people came down from the skies and taught the hapless Sumerians all about everything, then you run the risk of being marginalized by “serious” scholars.
I went down that path for some time, but have now moved on. There might or might not have been “ancient aliens”, but for me that is less interesting that trying to understand as much as possible about where consciousness came from in the first place. After all, without consciousness we couldn’t have either imagination or recollection.
So then the quest became: Where does consciousness come from? I listened to a number of “Great Courses” audiobooks on the origins of Man and human civilization. While highly interesting, I marveled at how often the lecturers brought us so quickly and efficiently through the various stages of evolution from apes through Neanderthals, to homo sapiens sapiens. Things seem pretty well buttoned-up (although other books I’ve read such as “Forbidden Archeology” by Cremo and Thompson suggest that a lot of inconvenient facts have been swept aside for the sake of maintaining the mainstream narrative).
But what is amazing to me as that after focusing in great detail on the physiology and morphology of the various types of humans, the lecturers nearly all simply jumped from the times when cave people first appeared and sat around looking at each other, to the time when they first got the idea to make a tool or make their first artwork. Not one of the good professors I’ve listen to have addressed the issue of how these grimy folks’ consciousness appeared in the first place and then evolved to the point where they could make stone tools and draw beautiful pictures on the walls of their caves.
In other words, where is the investigation into the origins of human consciousness? Again, if there’s a huge literature out there, please let me know. Whenever I computer search on “consciousness” I get descriptions of human capabilities, but not on the origins or evolution.
I’m aware that there are books written on the “mind” of dogs. Being a dog-owner and lover, I attend to those. A number of them describe things I think I see in my dog, so I can easily believe that some animals—at least dogs and cats—have some degree of consciousness. Clearly apes, gorillas, chimps and others do too. There are even books on experiments done on plants that strongly suggest that these too have some degree of consciousness!
Given all this, it seems pretty likely to me that consciousness really comes in a variety of types. And then it is only a small step to imagine that one type of consciousness might have (for some reason) morphed into a new and more capable type.
OK, so if you grant that all these “living” creatures have some degree of consciousness, where did it come from?
Some say the answer is simple: It came from God.
Others say the answer is simple: It is a byproduct of the increasingly complex network of neurons and electrons whizzing around.
To me, neither of those answers is very satisfying. Even if God did gift us consciousness, that must have come about here on the Earthly plane in some way, and evidence of it should be findable. And for all the advances science has made into understanding the brain and its functioning, it is my understanding that there many scientists not say are not nearly enough neural networks, and not nearly enough shear speed of neural transmissions to account for our minds’ many capabilities.
So my quest to understand the origins of human conscious continues. The latest book I’ve read FINALLY seems to be hitting the nail on the head. It is called “Science and the Akashic Field: An integrated theory of everything” by Ervin Laszlo. I’ve not finished it yet, but it seems to be doing exactly what we started out here talking about: pulling together the worlds of science and the world spirit (or at least consciousness).
My next update will discuss what this fascinating book has to say.
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