November 6, 2009
For lack of a better word, the existence of “the supernatural” is perhaps the second most foundational claim behind nearly every religion. From the monotheistic, patriarchal religions such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity, to the more esoteric Eastern mysticism, to Hinduism to today’s modern Aquarianism, the idea that existence extends beyond the physical plane is a key undercurrent. Each of these religions — and many more — claim that something akin to a supernatural realm exists. Very plainly one can see that without this “other world,” the foundational claims of many religions unravel from the core and reduce to metaphor at best. So, if I want to establish the plausibility of the MGH, establishing the plausibility of this “other world” seems a good place to start.
While I know I won’t be able to provide a proof that some scientist can repeat in a laboratory, I know I’ve got enough to utterly demolish claims that “there is absolutely no evidence for the supernatural.” That’s a common claim atheists make, and it’s simply wrong.
If reductionist materialism is correct, then there are no spiritual beings at all. Life and consciousness reduce to an arbitrary dance of molecular activity follow by permanent atomic dispersal, and thoughts, emotions and feelings become the mere results of brain chemistry. There is no free will, and all our decisions become akin to something like peculiarly well-timed forethoughts. This, in essence, are the core principles of what I refer to as cerebro-centric consciousness hypothesis (CCH), in which the brain is given ultimate priority and finality as causal explanation.
Next week, I intend to introduce a series of posts that I believe justify belief in the idea that the CCH cannot adequately explain the available data on human consciousness. Further, I will argue that a model of consciousness better described as a spiritual, waveform or holographic — one that operates irrespective of physical constraints, something like the immaterial consciousness hypothesis (ICH, introduced here) — is more consistent with the data, while retaining superior explanatory power. Before proceeding, I would like to establish clear parameters we can refer to as the discussion progresses [edit: the ICH has since been replaced with TMC as described here].
Now that we’ve introduced the hypotheses, it’s prediction time: what might we expect to observe if either hypothesis were true?
If the CCH were true, it follows that we should never see an example of consciousness existing without a brain, and that if we were to observe an instance of consciousness existing outside a brain, such would effectively falsify the CCH.
If the ICH were true, we might expect evidence suggesting that consciousness can persist after physical death, or that consciousness is not geographically located in the brain (although the latter point in and of itself would not falsify the CCH). We might expect things like ghosts and apparitions, demon possessions, alien abductions or other forms of psychic or spiritual phenomena.
What else might we expect? I want to cover all the bases and I’m hoping somebody has something to add.