SCIENTIFIC

Origin of the Universe

"I don't know what I may seem to the world, but as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me".

Sir Isaac Newton

 

The questions we need to ask but cannot answer are ones such as: What was before the Big Bang?  Why did it occur?  What is beyond our universe or is it infinite?   Are there more dimensions than the 3 we see plus time?  Are there parallel universes?  Is our universe but a speck of dust in another much bigger universe and so on?  How was matter and energy created or where did it come from?  When did time start?  Was it an infinite time ago - it never started and has always been 'ticking'?  

These questions can probably be never answered by science as we know it and require an intelligence much greater than us to answer these for us.  Possibly, this greater being is the Creator of the universe (and maybe all universes)?

Maybe time as we understand it does not exist beyond our universe.  Beyond it, perhaps one could go backwards or forwards in time?  This could possibly mean that matter and life (and God) have always existed and there is no beginning to it all.

 

It should be noted that previously, the Big Bang was not the prevailing theory for the origin of our universe as it is now.  This Big Bang origin made many people who were against a religious explanation to the origins of the universe, uncomfortable as it does add credence to an act of creation as the start of the universe.  In fact, every question posed above indirectly infers a Creator.

Recently, physicists have practically come to the conclusion that the universe will continue to expand indefinitely.  There will be no contraction and a never ending cycle of big bangs and contractions - our universe is a one time occurrence and this is indirect evidence for a special creation.

 

® Just as the universe as we know it (and anything beyond it if that is the case) could be infinite in size, matter could be infinitely small.  So that theoretically, a universe with life in it that is as complex and diverse as our own, could exist in a single atom or even smaller quantum particle, and so on.  In other words, a speck inside of our universe may hold a universe of its own and a speck inside of that universe may in turn hold its own universe, and so on, without limit.  Likewise, our universe may be nothing more than a speck inside another universe and that universe in turn may be just another speck inside another universe and so on.

 

What is the origin of electrons, protons, and all quantum matter?  Where did this matter come from?  How did we end up with these nice building blocks called atoms?  Why are there approximately 100 unique atoms (elements) in the universe and not say millions or only one?  It all seems too ordered and convenient.

 

® Life could start and new life forms could emerge on their own if atoms and molecules (from one or more or all quantum particles) had some type of inherent intelligence.  And the sum of all of the individual intelligences of the atoms and molecules when they combine together in a life form, could be the intelligence of the life form that we observe.  However, there is little (from quantum mechanics) or no evidence to support this and thus it is highly improbable.

 

® Is it possible that the unconditional love possessed by God or the universal consciousness is the source of energy or power that allowed the universe's creation and the life in it and also sustains it?

 

If there are other worlds in this universe which contain life, we should NOT assume that:

(1) They are based upon a carbon - oxygen system; it may be even possible for life to exist based only on metals.  Or even elements we do not know about. 

(2) Life is based on cells - it may be of a different form such as a plasma type substance or even liquids and/or gases.

(3) Life would be only possible under the conditions we observe it on earth today.  It could exist under vastly different temperatures and pressures from that on earth.

(4) Life would take a physical form.  Life forms could be more like ghosts or spirit-like entities.

 

Energy/matter is never created or destroyed, only transformed (1st Law of Thermodynamics).  It would seem to be consciousness is a form of or analogous to a type of energy and therefore it is reasonable to think it cannot be destroyed and at most, only change form.  The immortality of the soul may be the spiritual equivalent of the conservation of energy.

It is a possibility that the dark matter/energy in our universe which has never been directly measured (and its existence is believed necessary by physicists in order to account for the Big Bang and the way the universe has unfolded since) could partially be made up of consciousness and the spirit world.

 

The anthropic principle states that the universe came about such that life could be possible somewhere in it because many factors just happened to work in its favour (such as the universe expanding at a special rate to allow the universe to become structured; if nuclear forces had been a little weaker only hydrogen would be stable and the periodic table of elements would not exist; if gravity had been much stronger, stars would be short-lived and living organisms would be crushed, etc.).  The laws of physics are relatively speaking, simple.  And they are such that life can be supported.  One may believe that this fine-tuning of the universe was no accident.  One may then argue that a Creator may have set the parameters favourable for life to evolve (in case it were not created under the same conditions) on its own without external interference.  In this He may also have allowed for some mechanism whereby new species could be perpetually created (not necessarily evolution; especially important not just for diversity but for new species to replace ones that become extinct - note that species are allowed to become extinct because it is the souls that occupy them that matter and not the physical form taken).

If there many universes (even an infinite number), then we would expect the conditions favourable for creatures like us to flourish in some of them and we just happen to exist in one such universe.  

Another way of looking at it is although the odds that everything was favourable to this outcome may be so slim, the fact of the matter is it happened.  An analogy might be if the chance of winning a lottery prize of $1M is 1 in 10 million and you just won, then it has already happened and therefore the odds no longer matter as the outcome has occurred.

 

Order in the Universe

There are no examples of structure or order in the non-living in nature (decaying life which is losing its structure is not included).  Common simple man-made shapes such a  squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, etc. are rarely seen in nature.  There are no naturally occurring Mt. Rushmores, Great Pyramids, or forests in checkerboard patterns.  We do not see a mountain in a perfect geometrical shape nor leaves arranging themselves with the aid of wind into a nice neat pile nor a pile of concrete not yet hardened, form itself into a sidewalk.  Nature does not create order, only disorder.

Nowhere in nature do we find greater order over time.  For example, instead of becoming straighter and eventually ending up like a canal, a river will always cut out a course which meanders more and  more from a straight path over time (because it erodes the weakest banks; and has no plan in mind to reach its destination for it does not 'see' ahead).  Thus man creates canals that flow straight and are ordered while nature creates rivers that meander without any purpose.  This is hard to reconcile with evolution which predicts that nature can also work in the opposite direction when it come to living things (leads to greater order, though the total entropy of the universe could still increase - I'll explain shortly).

Life being too complex to come about randomly is evidence for a Creator.  The creation of life in the universe by a Supreme Being or Force need not follow the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics or any other physical law (unlike evolution) since it is He who creates the laws of the universe.  On its own, nature does not create, it only destroys and causes chaos and disorder.  This is what the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics predicts it should.  There is no benefit to the material universe if life exists in it; life is not needed to satisfy any physical laws of the universe and if anything, is likely to contradict them.  There are two possibilities when it comes to explaining life as follows.

A) Proponents from both sides of the evolution vs. intelligent design debate use the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics to argue their position is favoured by it.  Both cannot be right.  Or can they?  Chemically, the creation of a life form leads to greater entropy in the universe (because their is an increase in free energy when the chemical reactions that make the life form occur).  However, this does not necessarily mean the randomness of the universe increases - in fact the opposite is probably true.  This is because we now have a well structured organism that is much more ordered than the sum of the order of the molecules that made it before it started to be formed.  We need to account for the non-chemical  and non-'heat' decrease in randomness when life forms come into being.  To the best of my knowledge, this is not given a component (like chemical reactions and heat transfer are).  Of course it will be hard to assign a relative value to this new component for order.  But intuitively speaking, I would expect that the actual (with the new component for order included in its calculation) entropy of the universe decreased when life first started (and possibly also if more complex higher life forms were created from less complex lower ones).

For life to have started without a Designer, the required spontaneous self organization needed to occur naturally seems impossible to explain in terms of the 2nd Law.  This effectively rules out the first cell originating purely by chance but may or may not do so for life originating from RNA molecules.

Though I would expect that the long term cumulative effect will still be an overall increase in the entropy of the universe due to the living processes of the life form contributing increases in entropy, there is no provision for planning in the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and nor should there be.  Changes in entropy can only be measured at that particular moment in time because that is how the universe behaves.  The universe cannot and does not undertake any planning whatsoever unless somehow a Designer intervenes.

B) The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is not violated when life is formed in reproduction.  If it were, then since life is continuously being formed, it would then be false and no longer a law and thrown out by now.  When life is formed, there is a net increase or no change in the entropy of the universe since life formation requires the input of energy from the surroundings (ie. the sun) -  the entropy of the life form decreases while that of the surroundings increases.  The sum total of the entropy change of the universe is greater than or equal to zero. 

Plant life is given the necessary energy to start as life (eg. a seed has the energy requirements contained within it to become a plant which is much more ordered than the seed - thus the input of energy required).  Non-plant life has the same requirement for energy but needs something to 'kick start' it into action because in order for it to start functioning as a living self sustaining entity, it needs an input of energy which it has to acquire from it's surroundings (in the case of a single celled organism, it would be from the parent cell and for animals, the embryo would get this from the parent).

® Nevertheless, life itself leads to an increase in the entropy of the universe but evolution to higher more complex life forms and the origin of life itself may be a contradiction of the 2nd Law if a component is given to the resulting greater complexity of the structure.  This is where an input of energy or possibly involvement of consciousness (and/or even outside interference from a Designer or Creator) might be necessary.  The energy necessary would be extracted internally from within our own universe or it could even be possible that it comes externally from outside this universe (the former would be more likely I would guess).

Any time there is an increase in complexity (macro-evolution) at the DNA level and of the life form itself, then the entropy of the universe is reduced unless what causes the complexity increase is an external energy input at least sufficient enough to satisfy the 2nd Law (possibly from a Designer intervening/consciousness involvement).  Therefore, I think macro-evolution could only occur without design/consciousness involvement if it is the result of a series of many successful random mutations.

 

Limitations

I wish to digress for a moment and point out that although science is our primary tool for the understanding of life and the universe, it cannot possibly, nor should it be expected to, answer all of our questions - especially those of a non-empirical nature.  Sometimes we just have to rationalize and look beyond the limited scope of science, though only when we have no other choice in the pursuit of knowledge and truth.

Often, our belief system clouds our ability to rationalize and be objective.  Our belief system is something that is formed through the knowledge we acquire, our experiences, and from what we are taught by people who help shape us.  New information we receive is first 'filtered' through this belief system and this is how we decide whether or not to accept this information as true or not.  Unfortunately, many hold their beliefs as absolute and as a result are overly biased and simply just reject information they receive that contradicts their belief system.

The following would not constitute scientific evidence for life after death but many of us would give it some weight: Suppose an alien civilization visited us on earth and revealed some things to us about the universe such as it was created by a Divine Being and that we have souls that survive physical death.  Some would accept this at face value and because they have faith in what the alien beings revealed, would consider this sufficient proof for the claim.  Most of us (myself included) would take this as evidence (how good it is would depend upon the individuals own rationalization) but not proof.  Others, including atheists (and scientists who are atheists) would not consider this as evidence as it goes against their belief system and does not have any scientific value.  Of course, if they were told by the aliens that the speed of light is variable or there are at least a thousand elements in the universe (without being presented this evidence), these same people would be inclined to believe!

There is what could be considered an inherent bias that some scientists hold in that they believe that everything in the universe can be explained by materialism.  Science is open minded (and realizes its limitations where warranted) even if some scientists are not. 

Science only believes what it can measure, replicate, and understand the physical mechanism of (if it cannot do all of these, it simply dismisses the data).  It is only one way of seeking answers, and by no means a be all and end all.  It is not all encompassing.  There are many questions it cannot and will never be able to answer.  For example, we do not call on it to explain art, history, morality, ethics, human nature, philosophy, etc..  Thus if we attempt to employ present day science to explain spirituality and the existence of an immortal soul, we are bound to fail and I believe rationalization is the superior approach.  [Note: I do regularly read the atheist materialistic publications, "Skeptical Inquirer" (website: http://www.csicop.org) and sometimes "The Skeptic" in order to make sure I get the best arguments from that viewpoint].   

If we truly wish to follow science, then emotions do not exist because there is no way of physically measuring them (measuring something like seratonin levels in the brain does not do this as we cannot differentiate what it actually indicates - it's levels are influenced by various factors other than emotions).  So according to science, love, hate, and jealousy do not exist.  Science has it's limitations but somehow this fact seems to be going over the heads of some of the narrow-minded (but otherwise intelligent) scientists.  It requires faith in it to believe it has all the answers just like it requires faith to be a truly devout Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, etc..  Without realizing it, science becomes a religion for some.   

But science does moves forward and come to our aid on different things.  This is because science is always evolving and expanding its scope.  Newton's Laws of Physics were found to fall apart for matter moving near the speed of light by Einstein and he replaced them with the General Theory of Relativity.  Now at the quantum (sub-atomic) level, Relativity does not hold and some other physical explanation(s) is needed.  At one time, phenomena such as electromagnetism (it was also once thought  incorrectly that electricity and magnetism were separate forces) and radio waves were unknown.  This did not mean they did not exist.  Later, they were understood and became part of science.  Science simply has to progress to the stage where it can measure and quantify the phenomena. This is likely what will happen with some of the psychic phenomena one day and we may be in the initial stages of this in the near future with our improving understanding of quantum mechanics. 

 

Origin of Life

Nearly everyone will agree that complex non-living things, such as a car, could not possibly form on their own randomly (not to mention sustaining themselves by fueling, performing maintenance, repairing, and reproducing new models of itself).  But some of these same people choose to believe that the first living organism (a single cell) on earth could have or did all this by random chance.  Actually, we will make the probability more likely by allowing for the construction of just a RNA molecule from a simulated primordial soup in the laboratory (this is known as the RNA World hypothesis).  This is the most basic self-replicating molecule known (from which DNA could have 'evolved') and 'one step' less complex than DNA which makes it.  RNA forming by random chance is so much more probable than a cell coming about in whole randomly.  Even so, no one has been able to do this no matter how favourably they tweak the conditions and even though the incentive to succeed is great.  To be fair though, in actual fact random chance had in its favour perhaps a billion or so years for this to happen and so much of the earth's area to utilize for such a chance event to take place.  On a side note, we should be careful not to give organic matter any special treatment.  For there is nothing especially different between organic and inorganic molecules other than that the former are carbon based and able to form long chained molecules (polymers).  

Prior to the origin of life, carbon (most likely in the form of carbon dioxide or methane) would have to somehow react with amino and carboxylic acid groups to form nucleotides which are the building blocks of RNA.  To the best of my knowledge, we still do not see nucleotides occurring naturally anywhere except where associated with living systems (plant and animal life). Of course in the natural world, there is a bias (due to free energy considerations) towards the formation of molecules made up of fewer rather than greater numbers of carbon atoms and this is the problem for the formation of nucleotides.  So if nucleotides are not to be found today on their own, there is really nothing to suggest they would have formed before life began on earth (even if there may have been more favourable conditions for there synthesis which is debatable), and then arranged themselves in order to start something so incredibly complex as RNA, then DNA, and then a living cell.   Are we then left to thinking someone or something synthesized the nucleotides necessary and arranged them into the RNA and DNA so that life could start?  Additionally, amino acids would have to be synthesized into the necessary proteins to construct a cell.  In cells, this is done in ribosomes.  Outside of a cell it might be possible (though it has not really been demonstrated) that ribozymes (catalytic RNA), though relatively rare, could have taken this role that ended up resulting in the first cell.

There are extra-terrestrial theories for the origin of life also (for example, Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe's theory that life on earth was 'seeded' from space).

® We are so advanced in terms of science and technology, yet why is it that we cannot make a living cell?  Put another way, if the first living cell could have just come about by random chance as some believe, and even if we cannot replicate the randomness of such an event, then it would really not be that miraculous if we were to create a living cell from scratch in a laboratory (if it were only a chance event, surely we should be able to replicate it if we take the chance element out?).  Not only can we not do this, but we cannot even create a dead cell!  This being the case, it just makes it harder to believe something so complicated and complex could have appeared through random chance.

A simple analogy is the formation of a plastic bag or pouch (like the type that is used to hold frozen vegetables in the grocery store).  If we compare this to a cell membrane, we will see both are made of organic compounds.  Since it is a relatively simple structure formed from petroleum, why does it not arise by chance?  No matter what temperature, pressure, and atmospheric conditions petroleum is subjected to, we do not get a plastic pouch.  It has to be intentionally created.

 

Consciousness

Science does not understand how the mind works (contrary to how the well known psychologist, Steven Pinker, misleads us).  There is no mechanism for how the brain can generate thoughts let alone how consciousness could come about.  Brain cells have not been shown to give us thoughts and consciousness.  Having a soul would explain all this if we choose to or deem it necessary to invoke the soul.

® We are conscious of our existence but also are capable of being conscious of our mortality or immortality, and coming to the realization that it is all for naught if we do not have eternal life – one could kind of think of this as the next level beyond consciousness.  Considering we have such a high level of consciousness, I think we all have (to varying extents just like other traits) some part of our brain (coded for genetically which was probably designed for although it could have evolved also) which somehow stops us from thinking about the possibility we could cease to exist.  Because the anxiety would be too great and would be such a detriment to us.  For there is no evolutionary benefit to having such a level of consciousness if this anxiety comes with it and in fact would be a really harmful trait to have for any species with this accompanying burden.  To later evolve a compensating trait (this ‘filter’ to stop us from thinking about ceasing to exist) would not make sense in terms of evolution – it would have to come about at the same time as the jump in consciousness and this is so highly improbable (much like an irreducible complexity scenario).  Otherwise, this level of consciousness would be filled with such anxiety that it would be too much of an impediment for survival and would not be passed on – it would be a very negative mutation indeed.

The other possibility is that to keep us from being too anxious of our own mortality, our consciousness would have to be held back and evolve to this higher level we now possess in a series of steps.  In between somewhere along the way to this advancement in mans consciousness, before it got to the point we were aware of our mortality/immortality implications and the state of hopelessness we would have been put in, this limitation on such thoughts would have to have evolved.  Of course this would mean evolution is planning ahead and this is not what it does and we should not have to put it down to evolution being very lucky.  Nor does the evidence showing the evolution of our consciousness show it occurred in a series of steps and instead the evidence shows a one time big jump in consciousness.

One can try to think about ceasing to exist or an afterlife but I have noticed (even though I can contemplate this more freely than most), that even with myself I feel the thoughts are to a certain extent usually 'blocked' (and its always been like this with little change since over time, and only a bit less 'blocking' of these thoughts when working on this subject) and the brain doesn't always 'allow it'.

Even with so called learned people who take interest in all kinds of subject areas, including many that would be considered by most to be obscure ones, if this topic of life after death comes up, they can't even bring themselves to think about it let alone discuss it (though I personally hardly ever really try to engage with others in this area and more so indirectly the very limited times I do).

  

® From birth to say the age of 5 there is such a jump in our cognitive abilities and consciousness and thereafter at a much slower rate.  It seems as if the brain develops just enough to allow some of our consciousness through (otherwise the ‘reducing valve’ is too strong – for example, prior to the age of 2).  Consciousness is what likely gives us this “jump” to our brains.  It hardly seems it can all just be attributable to some extra neural connections and accounted for by the brain alone.  Thus, it looks like we start with a blank state for memories (along with life experiences) but not for consciousness.  As we develop (and get older), further neural connections formed in the brain, allow us to utilize our consciousness better.

 

® Consciousness likely has to ‘latch on’ to the brain in order for the soul to inhabit a body and the ‘better’ the brain (even if it is a reducing valve), the better the consciousness can express itself (ie. consciousness or aspects to the soul likely need the brain to allow them to be expressed and even then the expression is not full and only a partial one).  A deficient brain may not allow consciousness to be well expressed.

 

® The soul (consciousness) probably interacts with the brain through an intermediary which, if this is the case, would most likely have to be the subconscious.  Direct 'leakage' is likely limited or non-existent and is at least 'filtered'.

 

® The latest research on human DNA (Journal Nature of 23Nov2006 – Volume 444, pages 444-454; Links: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6174510.stm?ls or http://www.sanger.ac.uk/Info/Press/2006/061122.shtml or http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v444/n7118/full/nature05329.html ) shows we humans do not share 99.9% of the same DNA with each other as was previously thought.  Instead there are chunks of DNA coding for genes missing in different individuals (as well as parts of the DNA having variable multiple copies that is different across the population).

Possibly (if one assumes we possess a soul), some of the genetic material for the brain which codes for ‘filtering’ of consciousness or a ‘reducing valve’ for consciousness is missing (thereby lessening the effect) and results in greater amounts of consciousness coming through in these individuals.  Some of this missing DNA may be what codes for the limiting of our thoughts on life after death and mortality/immortality implications.

Something similar may explain past lives coming through (although interestingly we never seem to get cases where a person has conscious memories of an existence in a spiritual dimension prior to incarnation on earth), various psychic abilities, the ability to recall NDEs if experienced, etc..  Each of these would likely have their own individual filters. 

Alternatively, It could be that the default genetic outcome is that there are no filters and the ‘reducing valve’ effect of the brain limits us and only if either part of it is developed more genetically or is missing do we get to realize one of these abilities.

This may also be the case with people who have the interest and take the time to read a website such as this (not to patronize anyone of course).

I think we may have genetic coding for this awareness and it could be in the form of how much of a filter on “awareness” of something beyond this life that is part of the brain.  In people where this filter is absent or hardly there, they would ‘just know’ there is something beyond this life.  People pre-disposed to not having any beliefs (eg. atheists) may have a very strong filter.  Of course, as one acquires information and thinks about things like this, one may over-ride this awareness to varying extents with other deductions and end up with lesser belief in an afterlife or to the extreme of even atheism.

This ‘extra’ consciousness coming through possibly may have other benefits and manifest itself in other ways also such as giving one more insight, better able to see the ‘bigger picture’ and make connections better between things that may normally appear to be unrelated, more introspection (better self evaluation which is usually but not always a positive) and knowing oneself better and at an earlier age than others, better rationalizing ability (an additional 'second tier' or higher rationalizing ability), and even possibly a more deeper level of wisdom.  But I have to give this whole idea more thought.

In fact, an alternative model in psychology may better explain personality and other behaviours.  A third component of pre-existing consciousness (brought into the body around or before birth) would be added in this model to the existing ones of genetics and environment.  In this model, consciousness may to a certain degree ‘over-ride’ our genetics and conditioning.

Some of to do with what we observe with the mind/brain can be explained better by dualism but scientists are only taught in terms of reductionist materialism during their education and unfortunately that is their confined referencing system and the core understanding they rely upon.

  

® There may be self-regulation of awareness of a spiritual realm beyond our own (awareness of an afterlife).  This awareness of an afterlife is possibly controlled by the brain and genetically coded for.  Further, it may in fact be a self-regulating type of loop with anxiety and awareness as the parameters that are balanced for in it.  So for example, if ones anxiety of ceasing to exist at physical death is increased for whatever reason (eg. say from reading some atheist material and being swayed by it) and becomes too great, then some additional awareness is allowed for to compensate and the persons thoughts are brought to a state of ‘normal’ functioning.  This type of anxiety can be controlled in the brain by increasing awareness and/or putting limits on these type of thoughts.  Physiologically, one or both should be possible.  Some kind of ‘processor’ may distribute the relative influence upon awareness and thought limitations.

Anxiety can go up from new thoughts generated due to new beliefs, influences, changes to accepting evidence for an afterlife or against one, death of a loved one, serious illness, etc..  It is brought back to a tolerable level through this self-regulating mechanism in the brain.

I think there would be four factors that regulate this loop.  If one of them knocks the system out of equilibrium, then one or more of the others are adjusted to bring back the system to an equilibrium state.  The four factors would be: 1) Awareness; 2) Anxiety; 3) Limits on thinking about mortality/immortality and the implications; and 4) Thoughts we generate which can increase (or decrease - but this might not need to come into the equation) anxiety on ceasing to exist.  These thoughts would come about from what we learn, are taught, perceive, experience, etc..

In looking at the flowchart below one can better see how increased awareness as a response (allowing more consciousness through) by the brain would a) effect the type of thoughts (more positive) and b) reduce anxiety directly.  A response by the brain of limiting these types of thoughts (labelled as "Limitations" in the flowchart) would indirectly reduce anxiety by decreasing (but not changing) these types of thoughts.  A "Processor" would determine the relative influence to be put on "Awareness" and "Limitations".

                                       

I think the more one is engaged in the material world, the more this awareness may be reduced which is not a problem unless thinking about mortality/immortality implications is done.  Then increased awareness and/or greater limits on these types of thoughts would likely be the brains response when needed.  Something like meditation could have the effect of increasing awareness and limitations put on these types of thoughts could be reduced.  The brains parietal lobes give us our sense of time and space and may as a first order guess regulate for “awareness”.

Atheists (as well as some others who hardly give an afterlife a passing thought) would have brains with tightly controlled thoughts on this and would hardly think about the implications of if one were to cease to exist.  This is why they are so comfortable with their position but many religious/spiritual people could never be if they were atheists.

Since atheists likely possess near or total limiting on these types of thoughts as well as lesser awareness, they typically see no need for an afterlife.  Thus, they may often feel empowered to not care about an afterlife and usually in conjunction with their own distaste for organized religion, may adopt a strict atheistic position where an agnostic position is more rational and warranted.  This may explain why some people have varying degrees of belief in an afterlife for which personality traits along with environmental conditioning do not seem to fully account for.

Even with a very high IQ (like many academics possess), with this low or non-existent "awareness", which I think probably helps with ones rationalizing ability, and if one additionally possesses a poor or mediocre rationalizing ability anyway due to their brain, one can end up being predisposed to an atheist belief system.  Insight will probably be lacking as a result of the lack of "awareness" as this is likely where some or all of it originates.  I haven't stated this in the preceding to demean or insult anyone but I think there is a good probability this could be a relevant factor in why some irrationally come to this position of an atheist (I'm not referring to an agnostic one) belief system.

Further, it seems atheism and religious fundamentalism usually have two things in common more than the norm: 1) a bit of irrationality and 2) a degree of narrow-mindedness.  What might account for an individual ending up on one extreme or the other could be the block on "awareness" (how much "awareness" comes through for that individual), all other considerations being equal (eg. religious influences, upbringing, etc.).

 

® When a person is forced to come to terms with their death (when they know they will soon die of disease, injury, or poor physical health), the excessive fear or anxiety about ones own mortality might trigger the 'barrier' to this "awareness" to somehow be lowered.  Thus, a sufficient amount of additional awareness comes through to enable one to come to terms with their imminent death without too much anxiety. And this is what seems to be all too commonly observed and people in this situation normally die peacefully (which incidentally can be argued is against what evolution would predict).  

 

® The block on this spiritual "awareness" it seems increases as the brain develops (during infancy into childhood) and less of it is allowed through.

  

® Our consciousness (soul) may bring with it some ‘software’ which determines to an extent how the brain and body are to develop and thereby this become an additional influence on us as people (along with genes, environment, and also highly likely, our souls).  This software may act on the ‘junk DNA’ and this may be one of junk DNA's purposes.  This may be the case with awareness and limitations of thoughts of ceasing to exist also.

 

® Maybe the brain stores working memories for a period as well as long term memories and thoughts.  Then whatever is deemed important enough to be remembered is passed on to the consciousness of that person.  But it has to first go through the persons filter in the brain to do this and also again to reaccess from the consciousness.  Thus, something like an NDE with OBE or OBE only (if they are as claimed by their proponents) is only filtered once (not twice like the brain filtered experiences of the physical being are).  The NDE with OBE or OBE by itself is only filtered when retrieved back to the brain but not when first registered in the consciousness.  This is why the NDE is often described as being 'more vivid than life itself'.

It could even be that the people who recall their NDEs may be the ones who have less of a block on their "awareness".  Of course I am only speculating here.

The NDE with OBE (and OBEs by themselves) may not be recalled always because the memory of the soul when out of body has to be 'downloaded' to the brain upon re-entry.  Or more likely, a certain specific pathway is needed to be created in the brain that allows access to the memory of the experience upon re-entry to the body or it is inaccessible from the soul.

 

® A certain amount of our spiritual/religious predisposition is probably genetic (resulting from consciousness acting on the junk DNA).  The other determinants being influences from others, what we are exposed to and learn, how we reason, etc..

  

® The most recent research on testing the hypothesis that there is a specific area in the brain or a ‘God spot’ responsible for or a receiver for mystical and religious experiences shows there is none (Beauregard, M.; Paquette, V.; Neuroscience Letters, Vol.405, Issue3, 1Sept2006, pages 186-190).  The one flaw possible (and acknowledged as a limitation of the research by the authors) in the study however is that it was based upon subjects reliving their past experiences from memory and were not actually experiencing the event while their brains were being scanned.  The study was done this way because the researchers were informed prior by the subjects that are not capable of reaching a mystical state at will.

Nevertheless, transcendental and mystical experiences can be brought about easier with stimulations to the brain by electric charges (typically to the right frontal lobe), certain drugs (such as dimethyltryptamine or DMT), seizures, and even brain injury.  This is probably due to the resulting lesser ‘filter’ of the brain on ones consciousness.

Instead of a ‘God gene’ (or even ‘God spot’), I think it is as least as plausible that we have some kind of ‘block’ which keeps us from thinking about life after death – our level of consciousness is so high and yet, we as a species are not relatively speaking, preoccupied with life after death.  This ‘block’ allows us to function without this great debilitating anxiety hanging over us constantly and may have been designed for.

Neither do I think it is likely this "awareness" is simply explainable as some genetic component that somehow pre-disposes one to some sort of belief in something 'greater' (analogous to the 'God gene/spot').  One reason I tend to think this is because there are other what would seem to be probably unintended and beneficial enhancing traits that seem to come with this.  Such as improved rationalizing ability, greater insightfulness, a deeper wisdom, seeing the bigger picture better, and maybe more introspection (though this could be a negative trait if there is too much of it for some and if there is far too much it, then I think it might even be negative for all due to the influence of the brain on thoughts).

  

® If the mind and brain are one and the same, then it should be theoretically possible (though not technically possible at the present time) to fully 'download' its contents (personality traits are analogous to programs or software and memories to data) to that of another brain (real or artificial).  But if the two are separate (consciousness survives physical death of the brain), then only a partial 'download' would be a possibility (memories and learning experiences experienced in the current brain).

  

® Consciousness existing as something separate from the brain (and therefore not part of it) could be said to be analogous to dark energy (as compared to known energy).  Dark energy has never been directly measured but scientists believe it most likely exists and is used to explain the state of the universe, as we know it.

  

Attempts have been made by some in recent years to try to understand consciousness through quantum mechanics.  It may be possible that consciousness behaves the same way as the non-locality of quantum particles in that once connected with other consciousness, will always stay connected and influence one another, no matter how far apart.  It is all still relatively new (really only at the hypothesis level) and I think it is too early to make any definite determinations from the current state of knowledge that has been advanced so far.

 

 

Other

If we have a soul, it may be of a form of energy (not yet known to physics) that cannot be created or destroyed by nature.  This energy might be the same as or similar to the energy associated with ghosts (if they indeed exist).  Somewhat similarly, Einstein did refer to matter as 'frozen energy'.

 

® If a person or animal does not have a soul, then it should be possible to have it die (not just near death; and with no physical damage) and then immediately freeze it.  Then after sometime  (say a month later), unfreeze it and have it come back to life.  Just like we restart a car or machine after having it shut down for a while.  Maybe this should be tried with an insect as there probably is a greater theoretical chance of success.  But being able to successfully do this revival would not rule out the existence of a soul - the soul could come back or may never have left in the first place.  Can do this with viruses already but it is not quite established if they are 'alive'.  But maybe they do not have any consciousness?  Or is it because they do but the consciousness does not leave during this 'temporary' death?

 

Science may want to try to assess if the soul has any mass (assuming living things have souls).  This has been attempted before by weighing a body just prior to and just after death and mass was lost but there were flaws in the experiment that may have accounted for the results.  Of course even if there are souls, it would be highly unlikely that they would have mass since it is expected that they are a form of energy only which does not consist of matter.

 

The molecules of our body are continually being replaced and our emotions, thoughts, and memories outlast them.  The memories are still there even after all the cells in the brain that were in place at the time the memory was formed have died off and been replaced.  Thus, this is a very indirect form of evidence showing how our consciousness transcends the body.

 

 

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Harinder S. Sandhu
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