On Death

Question of the Day May 25, 2011 ~ The Veil Called Death

What do you think awaits us on the other side of the veil called death?

For me, the evidence is unequivocally clear – death is the end.

There is nothing beyond it.

Our awareness is very closely tied to the physical body from which it arises; just as a piece of computer software can only run on a computer.

Unlike a computer, we have, as yet, no way to move our awareness to any form of “backup”.

I doubt that any sort of separation of body is really possible in the near term, the linkage of pattern to the pattern of the physical body is so complex, that if we do eventually develop a backup technology, it will be a long time away – hundreds rather than 10s of years.

So, it seems very clear to me, that death is the end, just as clear as that conception was the start (of me personally).

My Dad was my best friend, and we discussed the idea of death many times, and he said he would contact me if he could.   He died over a decade ago, and nothing since.

I know many people believe differently, and it seems to me that there is a strong incentive for those in power and privilege to promote such beliefs, as it makes those who have to suffer the hardships of lack and endless unwanted toil easier to control, and less likely to revolt and demand justice sometime soon.

Personally, I’d rather everyone woke up to the reality, and started to demand the justice now.   Unlike any time in our history, it is actually technically possible now – and www.solnx.org gives one possible way of achieving it.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

Every night, that brain activity shuts down a level, and I go to sleep.
Most nights my sleep is dreamless, and some nights I have dreams, particularly hot ones, or if I eat too much before sleeping.

For me, certainly, there is a something that goes, and up to a point some or all of that something can be re-activated. That something is linked to an electrochemical pattern of brain activity, which is linked in many ways to our bodies, which are linked in many ways to all that surrounds us.

I have zero evidence that anyone who’s brain has been completely disrupted has come back to life.
I have known many who have regained function after severe brain injury.
An uncle of mine had a large chunk of his brain removed when his car collided with a train on a level crossing in fog.
A friend (Colin B) was unconscious for months after being face down in seawater in the winter for a long time, with massive injuries after a high speed car crash on the approaches to the Auckland Harbour bridge.
Both individuals regained a lot of recognisable function, and both were significantly different.

What is the “intangible catalyst” that is the computer system that allows us to communicate like this.
It is much more than the hardware, it is a pattern running on the hardware, and it is a pattern that requires a certain sort of hardware. It is a complex, multi layered piece of software, with many different functional aspects.

It seems clear to me that we are something analogous to that (though also different in many significant ways).
We are a very complex pattern, in part based on genetically controlled development, in part mimetic/cultural development, in part our own specific experience, our perceptions, our intuitions, in part the very many layers and levels of the extremely complex machine that is the human body, and in part the extremely complex pattern that is human language – infinitely flexible, and potentially infinitely extensible.
We are in some senses unlimited, in a similar sense to that “what can be expressed with the 26 letters of the alphabet” is infinite.

When our brains are no longer capable of sustaining the pattern that is us, it ends. Without that physical structure, we cannot “wake up” again.

Simple really.

Doesn’t have to go anywhere – just stops.

I guess it is potentially possible that some alien technology may exist that allows it to continue in some other matrix, but barring such (and I have no direct evidence for such at present), death is a simple end.
.
(period – full stop – no more)

Not that difficult really.
All rather simple.

It’s what happens when we are living that is complex beyond the ability of mind to comprehend.

At least – that is as it appears to me.

[followed by]

Hi OM

You seem to have inverted the logic from what I intended.

I had no intention of implying that either “obedience to authority nor devaluing of this life are necessary consequences of the view that existence continues after the body dies”.

What I said was, that there are very powerful systemic reasons that people in power should promote an idea of an afterlife.
That individuals believe such an idea is real enough for the individuals.
It is just an aspect of the evolution of certain ideas that is powerful to explore.
As a detective friend of mine drilled in to me – follow the money trail.
The currency of society has been “power and privilege”.
Look at history from the perspective of the incentive structures introduced that tend to keep power and privilege in a select few hands.

It is not the only thing involved, and it is a significant thing in the mix.

Prior to 30 years ago there was no really solid analogy for how minds and awareness developed.
Now we have several.

This is a time of massive change, and it is accelerating exponentially.

Many new and different patterns to see and the build into the structure of understanding.

Perhaps infinitely more yet to come.
Infinity can be like that, exponentially bigger every time we look at it anew.

[followed by]

Hi OM

We are still talking past each other.
I quite intentionally used the sentence:
The currency of society has been “power and privilege”
to include the time that predated “money” as such.
Power and privilege predate humanity by a considerable margin. One can see the exercise of it in many animal groups (like lion prides, or collections of birds {hence the term pecking order}).
As we humans developed complex language, the old notions and strategies would quite unconsciously come across into the new realm of language and thought.

At another level, it is very interesting to look at the evolution of terms like spirit.
It has the same common root as breath or wind – a movement of something invisible yet containing power to move things.
In ancient times, when no one knew about concepts like atoms and gases, momentum and energy, it is easy to see how intuition would link breath and wind as the motivational forces in life. When someone stopped breathing for a long time (when the spirit left them) they did not re-animate. If they were inanimate but breathing (asleep or unconscious) then they would likely wake up, but they soon observed that people did not “wake up” after they stopped breathing for a half an hour or so (today it takes a lot of very special technology to wake someone up after such a period, and usually we don’t, because not much of them will be left, much of the damage to the structure of their brains which gives them the form of behaviour that we recognise as them will be permanent).

So, as concepts developed, the term spirit came to have a newer meaning, particularly as we came to understand about gases, molecules, lungs, breathing, gas exchange, physiology etc.

When awareness in language first develops, there is a very strong tendency for it to interpret all things in terms of itself. It takes a very long time for awareness to develop concepts that allow it to see itself in any sort of really objective sense. So in this context, it is absolutely to be expected that early intuitions will interpret everything about themselves, their life, and their environment in terms of consciousness.

There is (as is always the case with any human behaviour) an interpretive schema (a way of understanding things) in which it makes perfect sense to do so, because the reality in which we find ourselves is so complex, that the nearest thing in our experience to the level of complexity involved is awareness itself. There is no simple idea that allows us to understand awareness. It requires many layers of many very complex, and interrelated ideas. Most of that complexity happens at physical levels that are too small for our eyes to resolve. It took the invention of many tools, microscopes, electron microscopes, atomic force microscopes, etc to give us some idea of the levels of complexity in the very small below the level of our vision.

So in this sense, the old beliefs were exactly what we would expect, the best guess given the information available at the time.

We have so much more information now – but most people are still ignorant of it; so the old ways, carried by culture, still tend to dominate.

I have had many near death experiences, many very strange perceptions.

The key difference between my experience and that of most others, is that I also have a context of interpretation which includes many other ideas – like the idea that perceptions are never directly of the outside, but rather our sensory information is an input into a predictive model of reality operating in our brains, and our perceptions are taken from that predictive model. Thus there is always an element of “we see what we expect to see” in our perceptions. Training and discipline can lessen the impact, but never entirely remove it. We are left with having to make allowance for it, in the probabilities we assign to any given perception (or set of perceptions).

This is my best effort at sharing a window on what it is like to be a Ted.

[followed by] Reason for being

Hi Andrew

For me, Charles Darwin demonstrated the reason why we exist – replication with variation is possible.

That is all that is required – given time enough everything else follows.

One can add other reasons at other levels, but none of them is really required.
Richard Dawkins demonstrate how the same principle works in the realm of ideas.
Ockhams Razor strips away all else.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

It seems to me that we can be here for a purpose, if we so chose.

In the absence of choice, we seem to be here simply because of the conditions provided by the big bang.

It seems that our awareness has developed to a level that it really can be creative – as in no longer directly and fixedly attached to any causal chain.
As human beings, we seem to have a “quantum” ability, to create from nothing – from 0 to 1.

Of course this happens in a context that is provided by genetic and mimetic (cultural) evolution; and it seems that we can in fact have an influence that has the attributes of fundamental creativity.

My “reasoning” is fundamentally intuitive.
I have not gotten to where I have by stepwise logic. I have never used that mode of thought effectively.
I operate by immersing myself in information, in systems, and then staying sensitive to the intuitions that arise.

For me, it makes zero intuitive sense to think that any complex entity can arise without going through a process of evolution, from starting simple and adding ever greater levels of complexity, by whatever series of processes.
Thus the notion of God, as an original fully complex system, is nonsensical to me – it only puts back the question (where did God evolve).

In the absence of substantive evidence to the contrary, it seems most probable to me that we have evolved on this planet, by a process of mutation and evolution by natural selection at many different levels and in at least two different realms.

That being the case, it seems entirely probable that when we die – we end.

In another sense, the creative acts that we introduced to the system that is reality continue to have their ripples of consequence, which adds to the enormous dance of consequence that is “being”.

I do not fear death, I have had to look at my mortality at many different levels many times; and if I can avoid death I will – but not at any cost.

Yes – things have beginnings and ends, and the period between can be modified, by application of appropriate system modifications.

In the sense of opinions mattering, I think they do. Opinions seem to be part of the gateway to creativity, they can exist in the boundaries between the real and the not yet real – in the realm of the potential, which through action can create the real.

[followed by]

Hi Ian

I don’t know any scientist whom I respect as truly open to question everything (ie hasn’t already been captured by some belief that prevents further challenge), who has any reasonable doubt about Darwin’s theory.
Everything we think we know is “just a theory”, in that sense you seem to be using.

If you have any specific questions, I am more than happy to address them.
The evidence for evolution by natural selection is overwhelming, and growing faster than any single mind can comprehend (there is that much of it).

[followed by]

Hi Andrew, christine & John,

@ Andrew – yes, you are right that we have access to the same information (potentially), and there are more steps in the process;
Step 2 is availing oneself of the access, as in actually directing one’s focus to read or watch or practice;
Step 3 is to contemplate the information so gained, to direct one’s focus at the implications and the connections, and to be open to any intuitions derived;
Step 4 is to test (or look for tests done by others on) any intuitions;
Step 5 is to loop back again, and do the test, or read or watch, or practice;
and round and round and round it goes…….. learning, journey without end!

Darwin provided a great deal of evidence, from a great many observations, about selection amongst small variants leading to large changes over time. He had no idea about how it was done. He had no idea about molecular genetics, no concept of cybernetics and control systems, no concept of enzymes.
Enzymes are amazing, massive molecules, with thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of atoms in them, all vibrating, sometimes with dozens of active sites on their surfaces, with each site allowing the concentration of some specific sort of molecule to play some role in modulating the activity of the system as a whole. Fascinating, amazingly complex, amazingly subtle – single molecules doing the job that would take the fastest of modern computers thousands of lines of code to do an equivalent job in anything like the same time – and every cell in our body has millions of them – all working simultaneously, interacting at many levels.
DNA and RNA, the molecules that make enzymes possible, are equally fascinating, yet until the 1950s we had no real idea of their existence; and it is only since the 1970s that we have really started to understand the multiple levels of interaction possible.
DNA makes RNA, RNA makes proteins (enzymes) enzymes make everything else (sugars, fats, lipids, ….); everything able to feedback and modify everything else at different stages and in different ways. DNA and proteins can have histone (large sugar) modifiers, lipids produce membranes, proteins modify the permeability of membranes to specific substances under certain conditions.

The history of life on this planet is “writ large” in the DNA and the embryology of every organism alive today. The evidence strongly suggests that all life on this planet shares a single common ancestor.
In the complex organisms, until very recently it was thought that eyes had evolved separately in many different organisms, yet now we know that is not so. All eyes, in all organisms, share the same genetic switching in early embryology. All eyes, spider eyes, insect eyes, human eyes, squid eyes, all share the same genetic pathways in early development, and therefore had a common ancestor, some half a billion years ago. That ancestor had very simple eyes, and all the huge variety of eyes seen on planet earth seem to have come from that simple common ancestor.

The evidence of the gradual evolution of life, of all living system, from simple non-organic systems, by gradual changes, and increases in the levels of complexity, is overwhelming, and beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt – for those who are willing to put in the time and energy required to avail themselves of sufficient of the evidence that has been accumulated to convince themselves that it is so.
I have done that time, thousands of hours of reading, of time in laboratories, learning the disciplines of experimental design, operation and analysis; observing, deducing, intuiting, contemplating, building relationships, testing connections.

All of this massive body of evidence points unequivocally to the emergence of layers of pattern “based upon” earlier levels.
There is zero evidence for the spontaneous emergence of any complex system without some form of more simple predecessor.
All the evidence is for more complex systems evolving slowly, sometimes more rapidly than at other times certainly, and always based upon some of the systems that existed previously (modulated and modified in various ways).

How, with such knowledge, is it even conceptually possible to imagine complex systems such as our awareness existing after the complex systems that allow their existence (our bodies and brains) have decomposed?

It makes no-sense what-so-ever!

It is there – simple, stark, logical, compelling – without any shadow of reasonable doubt – for anyone with the interest and courage to look, to see.

Very few people come to anything with an open mind.
Most people come to everything with a huge number of cultural biases of which they have no conscious awareness.
Some cultural patterns are so strong, with so many self supporting patterns around them, that they do not allow any concept that might possibly challenge their existence to take hold.
Most people who end up studying science at universities and end up employed in various “science fields” have many such biases, which prevent them from ever seriously questioning many things, and therefore prevent them from seeing the larger patterns that exist.

Yes, there are many people with lots of letters after their names who have a great deal of knowledge in very narrow fields, yet who remain woefully ignorant of even the basics of vast other areas where they are “uncomfortable” going (mostly for undistinguished cultural reasons); who often espouse opinions in areas that make their ignorance clearly apparent to those with a broader understanding (yet those with the broad understanding have to acknowledge their ignorance in the realm of the specialist).

@ christine
As I have tried to very briefly sketch above, the theory of evolution gives a comprehensive background to the emergence of complexity at all levels, and demonstrates the essential need for the earlier levels of complexity to create and maintain an environment in which the higher levels of complexity may emerge.
In my mind, it is clear, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that my experience of being is such a “higher level function” of the organic systems that are my human body (which, like every other organism alive on earth today, is an expression of evolution over the last 3 billion or so years); modulated with the mimetic/cultural evolution that has been exponentially accelerating over the last 10,000 years in particular (and over the last 50 years in the more particular), but over at least the last million years also. The evidence is overwhelming, and it is not simple, yet the logic of it is compellingly simple.

I have no evidence that there is life after death.
It may be possible to create some matrix to achieve it, and I doubt it has yet been done. Certainly no such technology has been developed on this planet to allow it – perhaps alien cultures may have achieved it, and bought such technology here, but again, I have no direct evidence of such.
It seems to me to be far easier to keep bodies living indefinitely, than to try and create a matrix where awareness can survive without bodies.

@John
You very much mis-characterise Darwin’s life and motivation.
He was reluctant to publish his ideas because he knew how much it would offend many of those he loved, most particularly his beloved wife, but also the wider societies of his area and time.
The idea of evolution was not his alone and originally. His grandfather Erasmus published papers containing many clear pointers in the direction. Charles obviously grew up in a culture where at least a significant part of it involved a willingness to challenge the establishment, and to follow ones own intuitions and the evidence of one’s own senses. He also travelled the world by sailing ship – no mean achievement in those days, and explored much of the world on his own feet.
He then spent 30 years of painstaking observation and recording of evidence to build a clear case (for those willing to put in the hours of work necessary to hold their attention on the reading of the results of those 30 years of work contained in “the Origin”).
Yes Darwin lost children several of them, and he was emotionally distraught by it, as any of us would be. All the more reason for him to want to spare his wife any more grief than she had already suffered.
Hard times indeed.
He would have been less than human to feel no bitterness, and there was vastly more to Charles Darwin than bitterness, there was huge courage, in being willing to face the onslaught of public misunderstanding and rage that he knew would (and did) come.

What is an atrocity?

Is it an atrocity to design a species that is capable of love yet has children at a rate beyond replacement, thereby creating exponential growth, leading to expanding beyond the ability of the environment to support them, leading necessarily to famine, pestilence and war over diminishing resources – and to forbid them, by divine decree, from limiting their population through birth control?

I would call that an atrocity of the highest order!

I cannot conceive of a creator that would knowingly commit such an atrocity – and therefore cannot believe in a creator at all – just simple self replicating patterns, that, eventually, allow the emergence of something else – us.

[followed by]

Hi Thomas

Sorry, fails the Razor.

The presumption is that complexity pre-dates simplicity.

There is no evidence for such a presumption.

I know many people make it.
I suspect I know why they make it – because it is the only way that cultural patterns that include the notion of god can survive.

But when you look at it logically – it simply does not stand inspection.
Zero evidence.

All evidence I have inspected demonstrates that complex systems evolve from simple ancestors.
Evolution does not require that it goes in the direction of complexity, it just goes where survival dictates. Survival may push towards complexity in some cases, simplicity in others, or maintenance of status quo in others; and complexity is one of the ways that evolution may go.

Of course, when we focus in one direction, we lose awareness in all other directions. We are not omnipresent – we are finite, yet capable of infinite diversity (like a finite alphabet can deliver infinitely variable writing).

Of course we require all the sub systems, matter/light are near the base of the pyramid in the awareness of most (though there are layers below as we both know).

[followed by]

Hi OM,

There is certainly the aspect you ascribe, to evolution applying to how our minds work, and evolution very definitely has an “out there” aspect to it also.

There very definitely is complexity, “out there”.

Take a simple technological example – of steam engines.
Initially they were huge things, working at low pressures.
As we refined our technologies of manufacturing, we were able to build pressure vessels and boilers capable of sustaining higher and higher pressures, without exploding, and thence make ever more efficient and lighter, and more reliable and safer engines.
Exactly the same trends can be seen in all areas of manufacturing – internal combustion engines, jet engines, computers, …

Computers give us added examples of the layers involved.
Early computers were single bit machines, that handled information one bit at a time. Then we moved to machines that could handle more information in parallel, my first machine I built was a 4 bit machine.
The first machine I bought was an 8 bit – Z80 based machine (TRS-80 Model III).
Then we moved to 16 bit, then 32 bit, then 64 bit machines.
Now we have multi core processors, where 2 or 4 or 8 64bit machines are present on the same chip, and can work together on complex problems.
All the while the speeds of these things has been increasing. The 4 bit machine above could do about 100 thousand computations per second, the Z80 about a million, the latest generation of PCs a few billion, and the latest super-computers, a few thousand billion billion (6.5 Petaflop).

The technologies that have evolved to allow such complex things to exist and to interact reliably have been amazing, and there are only 7 basic circuits involved in any of them (leaving aside quantum computing or holographic processors for now).

All of that computer stuff has happened in the last 50 years.

Life has gone from simple replicating molecules, to the amazing complexity of life we see today, but it took somewhat more than 50 years – closer to 4 billion.

Evolution definitely does produce changes in the physical “out there” collection of patterns present.

4.5 billions years ago, there is very strong evidence that there was no life on this planet – rocks and gases and water, yes – but no life.

Complexity – out there, definitely does change.

It seems very clear to me that the sort of awareness that is present as me, that is involved in the crafting of these words, did not exist on this planet 100,000 years ago, and quite probably did not exist even 15,000 years ago.

So evolution certainly has an aspect to it that is how our minds work, and it has many other aspects to it also, and several of those have a very definite “out there” flavour to them.

[followed by]

Who to respond to OM or Thomas ??????

@Thomas,

We can have one grain of sand, and one microcomputer, both are unities, and the microcomputer, though composed of sand, contains a level of complexity orders of magnitude more complex.
So yes, both can be one, and the complexity in the one can be very different indeed from the other.

I think we would lose everyone else pushing the light thing too far, and light is an aspect of being that is essential – it is the medium of communication, of both information and energy, between physical systems. It is a state of the “sub-stuff” that is common to both matter and light, that performs this function.

Just as in the computer, we need a flow of electrons to create the complex patterns, but the electrons themselves are not changed, it is simply their flow that is modulated, to carry information – so too with light.

There is no necessary connection between light and awareness (other than the ability to carry information in various ways, including modulation).

The historical reasons for such occurring in our language seem very simple and obvious.
Our major information gathering systems are visual.
We gather most of our information via light.
When we have a major neural storm, it is those visual processing systems that are most affected, and the effect is perceived as “white light”.
Thus major intuitions are frequently accompanied by the experience of “seeing the light”.
It is a very simple physical thing, and I have experienced it myself 3 times – first in respect of understanding how holographic processors and intuition itself works, another in respect of evolution while reading “Selfish Gene” and another in respect of systems while working on Goedel’s incompleteness theorem.

I understand the anatomy and neurophysiology behind the term “I’ve seen the light” (in this context) – because I have “seen the light”, and the first time I did, I just happened to be doing a major in neurophysiology, and was spending a lot of my time working on experiments in Faraday cages measuring neuronal potentials.

They are not the sort of event that one can replicate and study easily, they are very rare, and most people never experience one, let alone several, and some people experience many.

@ OM

Our minds a very definitely not “just filters”.
Certainly our minds can, and do, do a great deal of filtering and sorting, and it is not all that they do.

Our minds can also create.

Our minds are capable of creating pattern that had not previously existed.

There are many mechanisms by which they can do that, quite a few of them involve errors at some level, so that something that was attached to one conceptual realm gets accidentally cross linked to another realm, and it works.

Some of the mechanisms are of a very different sort indeed.

The mechanism behind most of our intuitions seems to come from the way that we store and retrieve some forms of information as interference patterns. It is the recall process itself that generates cross linkage in this case. The cross linkages generated are very sensitive to context, and initially they are very fleeting (if we fail to capture them and transfer them to long term memory, they are lost within milliseconds).

So MOST EMPHATICALLY – our minds are NOT “merely filters”.

Our minds are the most creative and powerful entities that I am aware of.

The nature of holographic relatedness has a lot to do with that creativity, and there are a lot of other systems in the mix also.

[followed by]

Hi Thomas

As I see it, your thesis still has an implication of complexity within it that is not supported by experience.

Let me stay with the example of a motor.
If we take an internal combustion engine.
The matter for it exists, as iron and copper ores, and various other substances.
It is not until those ores are refined, and the various parts are manufactured and assembled that the machine exists. And it is not until it has fuel running into it, and it is sustaining internal combustion that it can be said to be running.

So at the time of its assembly we can say we have one internal combustion engine. Prior to that we just have pieces of metal shaped in particular ways that serve no apparent useful purpose (other than paper weights or sinkers or whatever).

The unity of internal combustion engine comes into being when all of the parts are assembled, and becomes an operational engine when all the bits are working together and fuel is being converted to torque.

Similarly with consciousness. The unity of awareness exists when we become aware, in the instant of that awareness, and not before. Awareness has many levels, and we shift through those levels as we develop.

Each one is a distinctly different thing, and becomes part of a greater whole.
As a solenoid can be a thing in itself, then become part of an electric motor.
An electric motor can be a thing in itself, then become a starter motor for an internal combustion engine.
The engine can be a thing in itself, then become part of a motor vehicle. ……

So too it is with awareness.
Each level a thing in itself, then part of something greater, but only when it is assembled and connected appropriately, and fueled etc.

[followed by]

Hi Thomas

You seem to be implying something mysterious in life that I do not see.

I see layers of pattern emerging, sequentially, over time.

Certainly, with complex organisms like ourselves, there is a sense in which the original zygote (the union of egg and sperm) contains a recipe for the organism that is to become us, and the environment plays a very large part in the organism that develops. Very small changes in the chemical environment of the womb at crucial points in development can have major impacts (like thalidomide) on what develops. The instructions in the DNA of the zygote are much more like a recipe than a blue print, the the recipe is a sequencing of processes, over both space and time, very sensitive to chemical and physical parameters.

In a sense one can say the potential is in the cell, but the potential does not become the real until all the developmental phases are complete.
There are many firsts in that process.
There is the first firing of the first neuron.
There is the first coordinated beat of the heart.
There is the first coordinate pulse of brain-wave activity.
Each of those things is a first for that particular organism.
Awareness comes much later, and it will have a first too.

Certainly I acknowledge that there are very many more levels of complexity in living organisms than in something as simple as an internal combustion engine, and an internal combustion engine is more complex than some of the life precursors that were around some 4 billion years ago.

Certainly some of today’s computer systems are similar in orders of complexity to some of the earliest cellular life forms.

My intent was not to imply that cars had awareness.
My intent was to show that awareness – at the level we experience, is something that emerges from the very complex series of levels of feedback and control and interaction that are a human child.
The process of producing a human child took some 4 billion years of evolution by natural selection operating at the genetic level.

I don’t see anything particularly mysterious in how cells develop. I see huge complexity, beyond the ability of any mind to follow in detail, and the principles of most of the systems involved are fairly well understood now.

I don’t see “purpose” in cells, I just see pattern, like water flowing down hill. Water flows downhill because of gravity.
Particular lines of cells develop in the way they do because that is what evolution by natural selection has selected them to do given the particular environments and experiences of those ancestral lines.

All the evidence suggests that all living organisms on earth had the same ancestral single celled organism some 3.5 billion years ago.
In all the organic soup that was the oceans, it seems that cellular life started once, and once only in some billion odd years of molecules getting created destroyed and bumped together.
The descendants of that single organism have diversified into all the life we know.

It seems that sex was successfully evolved once, and once only, about a billion years ago, and all complex multicellular organisms share that single common ancestor (from us to trees).
So there are many different levels at which different life forms share different characteristics; but the notion that awareness (as in anything we would recognise as volition) is part of it, is not a starter in my mind. It is one of the key areas where Ken Wilber has made a huge mistake.

Awareness is not carried in the DNA.
Different levels of ability to respond to the environment start in each organism at different stages.
Awareness, as we recognise in ourselves, takes several years to emerge in a human child.
I have watched the process with great interest in both of my children – the balance of different levels of pattern and automata competing for control.
I see it in myself, and in all those around me.

There is no single wholeness of awareness.
We each have the awareness we have, when we have it – that is all.

Certainly no machine has yet attained the level of complexity of the human mind, and it is not that far away, the optimists say 10 years, the pessimists say 100 years, but no one seriously involved argues for any period greater than 100 years. I’m about middle of the pack. I think Ray Kurzweil underestimates the sub-cellular processing capacity involved, and Roger Penrose over estimates the importance of the capacity, and somewhere in between – around 30 to 50 years, we will have machines that are, in all respects, our equals in terms of awareness and creativity.

[followed by]

Hi Thomas,

I don’t see anything particularly significant in the seeming fact that all life shares a common single ancestral cell, other than the implied extreme improbability of the origin of cellular life.

Similarly for all sexual life, it took some 2.5 billion years after cellular life evolved before sex evolved, and evolution stepped up a gear (as mutations in one cell line could now be shared with other lines, through sex – rather than every line having to develop each variation itself). All the diversity of multicellular life seems to have evolved in the last billion years.

I agree that currently computers do not incorporate quantum or holographic devices, and both are in development.

The development of computers is something very different from any previous evolution by natural selection. Now we have imagination and not simply random variation, in the set of drivers in the process.

The development and evolution of non-human awareness will likely be on a timescale many orders of magnitude in advance of our own development, when it starts.

[followed by]

Hi Thomas,

You said “I think it’s basically consensus, is it not, that scientists do not now know how cells divide into the very cells they divide into. And what a given cell divides into is not a small part of cellular replication: it is the central core developmental principle guiding the process.

I think we understand very well now the general principles involved in such differentiation. Most of it drives off the HOX genes, and the expression of chemical gradients and the development of histone expression modifiers that result. And there are many other processes involved – mostly around contact identification and growth inhibition. Many subtle gradients within the cells.

I’m not sufficiently current to be able to recite chapter and verse, and I try and keep up with some of the key abstracts.
There is still a great deal we don’t know about the exact mechanisms of feedback across systems, and the general principles are fairly well understood. I’d say we’re fairly confident of about 60% of the system principles at present.
And having said that, I expect that many will still be surprised by the subtlety of some of the specific systems we discover in 50 years time.
I don’t expect light to be particularly involved in any major way above the level that is already appreciated in terms of chemistry; and maybe I will be proved wrong.

[followed by]
[after a couple of – Meet you on “the other side” Ted comments]

Hi Andrew

If I’m right, no one can know for certain, for in death, all knowing stops.

And if I happen to wake up after death, I will happily concede to any entity present that I was wrong. I don’t expect to have to do that.

Cheers
Ted

[followed by]

With Laurie that makes three, might get crowded 😉 – or maybe not – we’ll never know! LOL !!!

[followed by]

Hi Thomas

I seem to have a very different understanding of probability from you.

For me, nothing is certain, and all things have probability functions.
Even the phrase “I am that I am” has a finite probability that by the time that packet of information reaches you, “I am” might not be any more – for a host of possible reasons.

So there is a sense, yes, in which the possibility of life is contained in the formation of stars and the heavy atoms that result from the explosion of a first generation star; and there are a lot of other factors involved that make the actual event of the formation of the first self replicating cell far from certain.

The first rare set of conditions is that which allows molecular replication.
It seems probable (though we had no cameras there to record), that RNA replication was powered in the first instance by heating and cooling. It actually takes quite a temperature change to do the job, for some very small part of the system that would be provided by diurnal variation. but then there would be disrupting factors like wind and rain and currents. It seems likely that the formation of the moon played a critical role in life forming on earth in two very different ways, and two very different times.
It seems probable that tides from the early moon combined with hot lava fields could have provided much of the energy for much of the early replication of RNA on earth. And it seems that the collision that formed the moon was also responsible for starting plate tectonics, and without plate tectonics we would be a water world, not a world of land and water; and it is very difficult to develop chemistry and technology on a water world (read extremely improbable).

Thus there seem to be a lot of conditions that are finely balanced in terms of probabilities involved in life evolving on this planet. From what evidence we have it seems that it may have taken almost a billion years for the first replicating cells to form, and a further two and a half billion for the first complex multicellular life to form. Each of those things seems to have happened only once – not many times.

Thus they are far from certain events – possible certainly, but far more like 50/50 possible rather than 100:1 probable.

Speculation about biophotonic interference is not required. We have sufficient chemical mechanisms to explain simple cells, and basic cellular relationships.

Newtonian physics remains a great first order approximation that works within most people’s limits of measurement in almost all circumstances known to ordinary men. All dwellings ever built have been designed and built within its constraints, and they work fine.

Evolution by natural selection is proven beyond all reasonable doubt to be the major driving force of life, which is not to say the only thing involved. We have already identified a collection of different mechanisms that have evolved that allow the direction of evolution in non-random ways. That is totally expected, and seems to be taking over from random variation in significant ways – the existence of humanity can be seen as the highest expression of this trend that we are as yet aware of – in one sense.

There is no real mystery to cellular division, all of the major mechanisms have been identified, centriols, spindle apparatus, chromosomal alignment and replication, and cell splitting.

Ultimately, in logic, it comes down to this – either one allows the possibility of randomness, of things that break pattern, and we have free will; or everything is linked by unbroken and unbreakable patterns, and we are all automata acting out the illusions of free will predestined before the big bang.

I put my bet on free will, on a fundamental degree of freedom and randomness that exists alongside order, in the substructure of the stuff of the universe.

I believe in that freedom, above all else, in the face of all (the very many doubts and “proofs” against it).

[followed by]

Hi Thomas

I agree with you entirely for the first 5 paragraphs.

Obviously, life did emerge here on earth, we are it, and see it all around us.

It is entirely possible (probable), that life emerged somewhere else in the universe, and it is also possible that it didn’t/hasn’t yet.
I think it quite likely that it has, but it certainly isn’t letting us know about it yet.

I agree, that the underpinning of Newton’s belief of what matter was has been proven incorrect.
My question is, why are you holding on to essentially the same underpinning (but in a slightly different guise) – divinity – primacy of consciousness – whatever you wish to call it.

Either there is freedom in the universe, and “random things” can happen, within certain limits; or everything is fixed into patterns, and we just don’t know what all of those patterns are yet (nor can we ever expect to – infinity being too vast for any finite mind; and free will is an illusion, and there is no point to anything, we cannot choose, it is all a great nihilistic illusion, ……..).

Thus, for me, I choose to believe that there is in fact freedom within certain limits.
The really neat thing about such limited freedom is that it has the same characteristics as error margins, in that they must be multiplied as more levels are added. Thus, by the time one is at the peak of a pyramid of 20 or more levels, where each level has a very small degree of freedom in and of itself, the freedom available at the top level is very high – approaching infinity – viewed from a whole system perspective.

[followed by]

Hi Thomas

I disagree that it (god/whatever) is implied.
I agree that most people infer it – which is a very different thing.

We seem to have very different understandings of distinctions.

For me, distinctions are things created within the human mind.
The simplest distinction we can make is a binary, “thing” and “not thing” (like hot/cold, dark/light etc). They often seem initially to be absolutes, but are usually only separated by a relatively short distance on some greater spectrum). As we gather more information, we are able to make ever finer distinctions.
At some point, after making many thousands of distinctions, and studying many different areas, some of us approach the mathematical concept of infinity.
Once one has some sort of conceptual grasp of infinity, it is possible to see that most distinctions are potentially poor shadows of the infinite gradations available. Often our minds can work well with the low order values of an infinite spectrum (0,1,2,3,…) but have much more difficulty when the numbers start to get up the scale a bit. Infinity really is big, and one can spend an infinite amount of time exploring just one infinity, let alone an infinitude of infinities (which seems to be the logical end point of all distinctions).

Thus people can be comfortable with 7 colours (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet), but not with an infinite spectrum of visible colours, and greater infinities of spectra above (UV) and below (IR) that are invisible to our senses. Our senses cannot distinguish infinite colour, there are limits to the ability of our eyes to distinguish between the energy levels of photons, and they are amazingly powerful tools.

Your logic does not hold true.

There is not some unity of motor-vehicles that all motor-vehicles are patterned off.
Up until a few hundred years ago there were no motor vehicles. Then someone made the very first one.

Why is it so difficult for you to think that consciousness should be any different?

I know we are conscious, and that gives us a huge bias towards primacy of consciousness, because we are it, it seems like it must have primacy – it is just sort of overwhelming in its reality. But really – when one gets as objective as possible, does the evidence really support such a notion?

For me, the answer is a very definite no, at this time.

Should I find new evidence, I am open to re-evaluation – that is, and must always, be so (nothing certain except existence and uncertainty itself).

If there is freedom, and randomness is allowed at some level, within some limits, then that is all that evolution requires.

I agree freedom is very important, and so are the logical implications of where that freedom derives from.

[followed by]

Hi christine

To me the essential question about god is very simple, and it revolves around the concept of intentionality.

For me, the essential thing about any concept of god is that of intentionality.

The question comes down to, is there some entity out there that has planned almost everything that has happened in the last 14 billion years?

That entity that does the planning would be god – whatever other characteristics it may or may not have.

The alternative hypothesis, is that there is no requirement for a planning agency to produce life as we know it, and all of the complexity of life we experience, including ourselves, is the product of evolution by natural selection recursively acting on ever more complex sets of cooperating and competing systems, with certain degrees of freedom and essentially random variability at some level.

It seems to me that the evidence available supports the latter hypothesis, and I acknowledge that it does take a great deal of time to gather sufficient evidence and abstract sufficient levels of understanding for that to be the case.

I acknowledge, that in the absence of such understanding, the god hypothesis does have a great deal of intuitive appeal, and delivers some very strong incentives towards cooperative behaviour.

It takes of great deal of systems knowledge to achieve the same degree of intuitive incentives to cooperative behaviour without the god hypothesis, and I believe I have achieved such a state.

[followed by]

Hi Thomas

I agree that there is fundamental connectedness of everything.
Where we seem to disagree fundamentally is the definition of consciousness.

Ultimately, all I have is my own consciousness.
That consciousness has a lot of memories of percepts, concepts and intuitions, going back over 50+ years.

That you have chosen to redefine consciousness to mean something that it certainly does not mean by any definition in the Oxford English Dictionary may be a cause of confusion.

Infinite simply means without end (in finis – without finish), it most certainly does not mean “no thing”.

I disagree about infinities not being things. Certainly they are not material things, and they can be sets, and to my understanding anything that can be defined is a thing. Thus in my lexicon, thing can apply to infinite conceptual sets, such as the set of positive whole numbers, the set of fractions between 0 and 1, etc

I agree that we cannot make any infinite set in a finite reality, and it seems that we can create many defined subsets of an infinity within reality. Reality seems to have a great deal of flexibility in what of the infinite range of the possible actually becomes the real. Our volition and imagination seem to be able to do a lot more, a lot quicker, than anything else we are aware of in the history of the universe.

I completely disagree with your conception of “conscious” – it is simply a tautology – and essentially meaningless.

[followed by]

Hi Thomas

Now I have no idea what you meant, when you wrote in the 5th para of your third post back – the one starting with “Ted, the very movement”…

You stated: “Now conceive of everything, the infinity of infinities. Is there anything to compare that to? I say no, there is not. I call that whateverness consciousness.
To me, that is a definition of something as consciousness.
To me, there is no evidence for such an assertion.
You seem to have crossed a line.
Reality seems to be finite.
What seems to be infinite is possibility.
We seem to be able to create almost anything, but we most certainly do not seem to be able to create everything.
Therefore – I see a huge logical hole in the transition from discussing mathematical abstracts (like infinities) or the realm of the possible (which also seems to contain infinities); to invoking infinities in the realm of the real (which all evidence to date suggests is finite).

As to your latest post, to me it seems full of logical and evidential errors.

You say “those evidently separate components of my experience exist in an inseparable (call it) field of awareness“, but I see no evidence for such a thing.
What I have evidence for, is that when someone administers an anaesthetic to me, my awareness ceases, and I experience no time, until I wake up, very groggy, and unable to hold deep coherence of contemplative thought.
During my recent (13 months ago) 5.5hr operation, my wife reported to me that in her awareness, I simply flopped, like I had gone to sleep, and was wheeled off into the theatre at that point. For her, existence continued, and I was unconscious.

Evidence such as this seems to me to very clearly indicate the primacy of reality over consciousness. It took quite a few hours after I first regained consciousness before I was able to regain sufficient focus to deal with complex abstract thought. Again, this evidence seems to indicate quite clearly that awareness is an emergent property of very complex coherent function within the brain.

I see no evidence that separate components of awareness exist in an inseparable field.

What seems to me to be the case is that much of the recall of models and percepts and concepts is done via “holographic memory” and the linkages to everything else supplied by “holographic recall” give the impression of something like an “inseparable (call it) field of awareness“, but that is not actually what it is.

Again, the linked nature of things is provided by “holographic recall”. Holographically stored information has a great many very different attributes from sequentially stored information.

I do not experience all things as one experience.
What I notice, is that I usually experience that which is within my focus. When I am extremely focussed on some complex abstract model I can become completely unaware of my physical situation, and vice versa. When I am totally focused on making a golf swing there is no abstract thought, just being present to relaxing by body and holding an image of what I intend (ball flight path and final finishing position).

For me, it seems abundantly clear that awareness is way less than infinite – because there is so much we do not know, and so much we cannot yet do.

[followed by]
Awareness

Hi christine and Thomas

So much to respond to, you two were very creative while I was sleeping.

@christine
You say you have never met anyone who thought that god had intention, a plan.
My experience is the reverse. I cannot recall ever engaging anyone in face to face conversation who claimed to believe in god who did not think that god had a plan, that god could change things, and could intercede (could express intention).

Maybe that comes from always living in small towns in a small country far from anywhere (our nearest neighbour, Australia {Hi Andrew} is 1200 miles away).

In this part of the world, most people still believe in a god that can and often does control, that can and does have intention.

Not to believe that, in these parts defines one as an atheist.
Around here, if you spoke of god in the terms you did, that there is no plan, that there is no choice on the part of god – then you would be called an atheist.

I quite liked the start of your creation myth, except that it almost certainly wasn’t prions in the first instance, but RNAs doing the replication thing. Viruses are for the most part RNAs that hijack the replication machinery of a cell, to do their own thing – thus most viruses seems to have come after cellular life, not before; but in other respects, the original replicators were most probably virus like in many aspects, in that they were RNA based.

Where I part company with your myth is in the origination of the observer.
I agree that systems have evolved that allow response to environment.
These systems seem to have started at the molecular level, specifically with RNAs.
After a certain point, RNAs seem to have organised into cells, with DNAs, ribosomes (constructed of RNA), making proteins, making fats and sugars etc.
The initial cell seems to have been quite simple when compared to modern cells, yet still quite complex.

From my perspective and understanding, the interesting thing is the mechanisms of interaction and control (feedback).
There are so very many of them.
A huge number at the molecular level within the cell, mostly the controlling agents are proteins, but sometimes RNAs and complex sugars (histones) and occasionally fats (particularly lipids).
At the cellular level, there are so many more, mostly involving molecular elements, but adding new levels of complexity.

As life has developed, the layers of complexity and responsiveness have increased in some lines (most notably our own), they have increased in the extreme.

In our own case, we have a huge number of systems that operate simultaneously.
There are all the cellular systems, that allow cells to work, to grow, to metabolise, to stop growing when required to sustain the cooperative.
There are all the higher level systems to sustain the cooperative of the body of a hundred billion or so cells, that beat the heart, that regulate blood flow, the regulate sugar and fat and oxygen and CO2 and …..
Then there are yet higher systems, that give us balance, that control reflexes, that support walking, running catching, leaping.
Then yet higher systems, that recognise and link context with response. Systems that allow us to distinguish words from noise, distinguish faces, create models of many aspects of the world around us.

It seems to me, that it is only when all of those systems are in place, and there is enough surplus capacity and flexibility within the systems, that the contextual systems that allow us to manipulate symbolic language come into being.

Symbolic language evolves over time. Much of it is cultural.
As children we mimic language, often without much depth of understanding. What is important is getting the context correct, depth of understanding comes later.

All of this developmental psychology is what we see in children.

They start with very simple distinctions.
The simplest distinction is a binary – left/right, up/down, loud/quiet, hard/soft, true/false, right/wrong, hot/cold, …..
The young child starts with such simple distinctions, and then builds greater depth into them, brings them into closer alignment with reality; except that some become cherished.

The most cherished is the one that actually seems to give birth to self-consciousness – right/wrong or good/bad. Many people never move beyond that one – most hold on to it at some deep level. It does seem to be at the core of the declaration in language that bootstraps our self awareness.

So here I link to Thomas:

@Thomas

You said “For reality to be finite, one would have to define reality perfectly, no?” – to which I say “No”.
One doesn’t need to define something perfectly to determine that it is finite at some level, one only needs to establish that at that level it is bounded (has an end – if it has an end, it cannot be without end – in finis).

Cosmology has done that.
The rationale is actually quite simple, yet totally compelling.
It the universe were infinite, and ever lasting, then there would be stars wherever we looked, there would be light coming from all directions.
That is not what we observe.
What we observe is consistent with the universe having had a beginning, a time before which no stars existed, and to be bounded, in the sense of although it is vast (wider than light could have travelled since its beginning), it does have boundaries.

Thus, the reality we observe, the totality of energy/mass {stuff of the universe} seems to have a limit that is (while vast) limited within fairly tight parameters.

We seem to again bump into the same tautology.
Your model seems to demand a definition, then because no such “proper definition” is found, uses this as some sort of evidence that distinction itself is at fault.

Turn the telescope round the other way!

The evidence of our own development is that distinctions mature, become more complex and more related the more information we have.
We move from the simple distinctions of the child, to more complex distinctions, based upon related contexts and concepts.

One problem is, that often we refuse to look closely at the simple distinctions at the core.
And sometimes the simplicity of the child’s view can cut through a lot of self serving looping logic (hidden tautology).

Leading further in to the sense data, percept, concept problem – that I have already heavily led into.
Yes, most certainly there is a two way feedback system in process as we learn.
We have sense data, from which our neural networks learn to distinguish percepts.
From this our brains develop sets of perceptual models of the contexts of our existence.
From those perceptual models the next level of mind develops concepts.
This conceptual level of mind is the one which seems to be built on the holographic basis.
The mechanism of context formation is the “holographic” linkages provided by the similarity of context when the data is stored as interference pattern. It is the similarity that provides the linkage via the recall process.
Similarity can occur at any level of context.
There does not appear to be any logical limit to the levels of recursive context that can be generated.

The notion of sense data is not at all suspect.
What happens is that many people do not have a distinction between sense data and percept, and that lack of distinction leads to a confusion that you seem to be exhibiting.

The process is long and has many possibilities of error.
Look just at vision as an example.
There are so many sources of possible error.
Our eyes are very complex organs, that do a lot of data processing.
Incoming photons are focused on the retina – and just there are two major and several minor sources of error possible. Here are just a few.
1/ The focus mechanism can be out, leading to blurred images.
2/ Chromatic aberration (the fact that photons of different energies deflect at different angles) can lead to burred images (red stuff and green stuff can appear to be at different distances).
3/ Too many photons can swamp the retina, and exhaust the supply of light detecting molecules, leading to “white out” and the inability to distinguish subtle shading.
4/ Imperfections in the lens leads to distortion of the image on the retina.
5/ We have blind spots on our retina where the nerves pass out through the retina and out the back of the eye.
6/ Our cone cells that give us colour vision are concentrated in the center of the eye, and give good resolution in highish light conditions, but only over a very narrow field of vision {thus the colours of a panoramic view are provided by the models built by our brain and retained from previous scans, and not directly from perception in the moment}.
7/ In low light conditions our cone cells have very poor response, so our primary vision switches to the rod cells that are monochromatic (grey scale only), but there are very few of them in the center of the eye. Thus our maximum resolution in low light is off to the side of what we are looking at, so we need to learn to not look directly at things we wish to see in low light, but to look to the side if we wish to see them.
…… and on the list goes.

And this list of errors is only at the primary sense data level – I have not yet begun to address the sources of error as that information gets translated to nerve impulses in the retina, and transmitted to the brain where it is again assembled into an image, but now in electric form.

So I disagree completely with your statement “as one must have a concept of what a particular type of datum is before that datum can be localized in a sensory impression“. It is not the datum that is localised, it is a context that is associated.

You have missed several steps in the process.

Before the sense data gets to awareness it goes through several layers of processing.
We have areas in our brain devoted to recognition of faces (social structure in primates requires knowing who is who).
We have other areas that distinguish that which is unusual.
We have a host of other processes (20 – 25 of them in most people) operating simultaneously (concurrently) on that sense data, and providing inputs to the integrating levels of brain that support consciousness.

Our conscious awareness is the top of a massive pyramid of processes, about which it usually knows little or nothing, in most people – just a few weird geeks like me who are the exception to the rule.

Our consciousness is slow, and limited in what it can give focus to.
When we direct our conscious focus narrowly, we can inspect individual elements of our perceptions and via them our environment.
When we spread our awareness broadly, and turn down it’s internal chatter, we can become aware of the amazing mass of connectedness to all things that is seething away at the next level of awareness below that of our consciousness – this is the holographic level, where intuitions and connections and contextual relatedness abound.
It is extremely powerful, and is prone to a suite of errors also (but in the absence of better information – better to trust it rather than ignore it – never ignore it, and sometimes over-ride it).

Yes young children are limited by their conceptual grid – we all are.

The really interesting question, is how is a conceptual grid built at all, and how does it evolve?

The answers seem to be that it is built from the way in which brain stores and retrieves information as interference patterns, and the way that the contextual framework of recall leads to a linkage between the patterns that are recalled to awareness.
In children these start as very simple things, independent binaries.
As we grow they get more complex, and with greater linkage.

This growth is the result of ever greater numbers of percepts, and concepts, and the addition of abstractions (which is the appearance in awareness of a pattern that was inherent in a set of percepts {or concepts or abstracts} when linked in a particular context).

This ability of brain, to instantaneously relink percepts and concepts and abstracts when there is a change of context at any level – including the context of abstract intuition, seems to me to be the basis of creativity, and an essential part of the ability of consciousness to develop within the human brain.

The whole process is recursive – it can fold back on itself, in potentially infinite nests of complexity – each new fold able to generate its own folding in an infinitely dimensional abstract “space”. Any fold able to create linkages between any points in any dimension thus far distinguished.

Certainly the child is simply in the present, with linkages only to the last immediate percept – ball goes, new ball.
It is our ability to link percepts and concepts over longer time periods that allows us to create ever more complex and comprehensive models of reality.
These models allow us to experiment with things in the models, without having to try them in reality. Saves a lot of time over trying everything in reality.

In you last paragraph of the “Christine, ha ha, yes” post, you seem to have collapsed two very separate things into one.

Certainly our awareness and our distinctions play a huge role in what we are easily able to distinguish in reality.
We absolutely require all those automatic classification systems, that enable us to make sense of, and respond to, very complex contexts in reality.
Our percepts are not reality. They are just our percepts.
With a great deal of training and experience, we can become aware of the very many sources of potential error in the conversion of sense data to percept, and adjust our confidence in the percepts accordingly.
In this way, we can start to build reliable models of what it is that provides us with percepts (objective reality), and part of that is the effect that we have on that reality (which is not inconsiderable).

So yes, it is a two way system, all the way, up and down.
Yes we have consciousness.
Yes there is objective reality.
Yes each can influence the other.

And the evidence is overwhelmingly clear, that objective reality was present long before awareness came on the scene. It must logically be so – there is no avoiding it.

Even if one allows for that some entity created the current universe in which we find ourselves, that entity would surely have evolved in some other matrix, some other “objective reality”.
At some point the chain ends with some sort of objective reality, some sort of simplicity with the potential of greater complexity, but not yet the reality of it.

[followed by 5th June 2011]

Hi christine and Gil,

I acknowledge the deep connectedness of all things, at several different levels.

What makes no sense to me is to give that connectedness the characteristic of intention.

What seals it for me is the way in which evolution appears to work, the sheer degree of randomness and non-design in it.
The human eye is a case in point.
One can see from the evidence of embryology how eyes have evolved from simple pits, and how the nerves connect on the front of the light detector cell.
If one was going to design the eye, one would put the nerves on the back of the light sensitive layer, to avoid the blind spot where the nerves pass from the front to the back of the eye. But once evolution goes down a particular track, the only way it can go back is if there is advantage at every step in the process. And obviously that isn’t the case, and we have a blind spot.
No designer would ever design a blind spot.
There are thousands of other examples, when you look closely at the genetics of life, the degree of randomness is overwhelmingly clear. There simply is no sign of design – just overwhelming evidence for evolution by natural selection.

It is possible that there is some technology developed by some alien race that preserves our awareness after death, but I have no evidence of such. Certainly no evidence that it could happen without a very advanced technology.

My mum and dad are both dead, and we had an agreement that they would contact me if possible. No contact.
A very good friend of mine – Paul Revell – believed such contact was possible, and was certain he could contact me. He suicided some 30 years ago, and no contact. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and combined with all the genetic data, it does build a compelling case for me.

@ christine
I know several priests who are atheists, a couple are friends; but the vast majority of people in this town have a very strong belief in the direct ability of god to respond to prayer.
Last year I had people in 5 different churches in this town praying for me.
I appreciated the sentiment very much.
It felt great to be a self declared atheist and to still be prayed for by so many people; most of whom I have helped, or worked with on various worthy projects in the community.

I acknowledge the power of prayer, yet from my understanding that power comes from the process which produces an alignment of conscious and subconscious processes.

I agree with you, that there is a lot in the bible. That awareness of the power of the word was a profound insight. To me it points to the amazing power of intuition that it can produce such insights without any knowledge of the deep processes that underly the outcome.

I find the first couple of chapters of Genisis in particular to have a lot of profound analogies and insights.

It is easy for me to see possible reasons why people would believe in the level of connectedness in the universe that many call god, and for me, it seems more probable that the actual process that produce those appearances do not involve intention.

Anyho- back to trees – cut two more down today – forearms quite tired – I really don’t like standing atop a stepladder using a chainsaw one handed to take large limbs off trees; but I don’t have enough money to employ anyone else to do it, so …..

Continued on https://tedhowardnz.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/continuing-the-on-death-thread-which-is-more-about-life/

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
This entry was posted in Nature, Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to On Death

  1. holessence says:

    Ted – As I’m sure you can guess I don’t share (even remotely) your idea that death is the end. On the contrary. But that’s okay — differences are what make the world go round.

    Oh, and by the way — I’ll see you on the other side.

    [Sorry, I couldn’t help myself]…

    Like

  2. If I see you on the other side Laurie I will be very happy to admit my error (in the face of such overwhelming evidence).

    Until then – I’ll stick with the intuitions I have from the evidence that I have.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Bed bugs and going green, link to consciousness | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

  4. Pingback: Bed bugs and going green, link to consciousness | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

  5. Pingback: Continuing the On Death thread – which is more about life | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

  6. Pingback: Human Evolution | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s