Insights for the deeply romantic and deeply skeptical

Healing Our Achilles Heel Before It Kills Us

Who wouldn't want their preferences validated? Their opinions proven true? We all do, which creates problems when we have to make collective decisions while going through a clashing transition from revelation to science as our best-guess source of truth. Read More

And if we leave science alone

And if we leave science alone to 'collectively' decide it's fate, how is that a collective decision?
We don't need 'spiritualists' to tuck their elbows in and give way to 'scientific authority' - what we do need is for 'spiritualists' to come back down to earth and for scientists to open their minds to greater possibilities than they can conceive of.
And this is happening on the fringes of science and spirituality whereby some truly open minded scientists are looking at these possibilities - such as Rupert Sheldrake and Bernardo Kastrup to name two.
Scientists, adherents to scientism, don't like 'stuff' they are unable to prove - spiritualists live with their heads in the clouds - at their extremes they are both wrong and paradoxically they are BOTH right.
This isn't about either/or but about both/and where on occasions either/or can be proven correct and/or incorrect.
This is the problem with collectivism, it ignores individual subjective experience, whist individualism ignores a collective objective experience.
All these experiences exist and are interconnected as quantum entanglement suggests and until science can grasp the idea that we are both the particle and the wave it will be limited in the solutions that can be provided and additionally will be unaware of the problems that the proposed solutions can create.
Hence science and religion need to try and understand each other and work together - rather than either side 'give way' to the other's perceived authority.

And as an afterthought, both

And as an afterthought, both science and religion/spirituality are in a lot of a pickle at the moment.

After my own heart, Helen, I

After my own heart,

Helen, I agree that science is in a pickle but not one solved with quantum entanglement, Sheldrake or his kind, but still one I think you are resonating with.

The physicist's quest for the theory of everything, is for a theory of everything but what matters to living systems. We need a theory that doesn't make it absurd that we exist with our emotions and distinctly non-computer like behavior. We need a theory of how matter becomes mattering, stuff becomes information, of how function, intention, meaning, interpretation purpose starts to make physical things happen as they so clearly do at the beginning of life.

In this I agree with the intelligent designers. The simple direct cause and effect of physio-chemistry and even complexity theory aren't enough to explain living behavior. I disagree firmly with ID's proposed alternative, and quantum entanglement is not the answer either since we don't see anything like emotion, desire, interpretation going on within the quantum level.

For 18 years I've been a researcher with UC Berkeley's Terrence Deacon on how mind emerged from matter. Most scientists don't even recognize that it's a question. They don't wonder why we'd think a physicist was crazy if he said the moon pulls on the tides because it matters, but a psychologist down the hall can talk about things mattering all she wants.

I write a whole lot about this challenge here at PT. Yesterday I happened to compile a list of too many articles I've written on the subject. See below

Science has its detractors within its ranks, in ways religions don't allow. It's meant to be a bit of a brawl. Truth emerges from arguments among friends.

Thanks for writing Helen,


Well, I've skim read about

Well, I've skim read about half of those blogs - and re-read the ones that were impossible to skim read.
You're right that I resonate towards QM, Rupert and Bernardo, although I haven't studied them in any depth they do suggest ideas that go some way towards mirroring my own subjective experience, which I have my own thoughts on too.
For an atheist you're pretty keen on using the 'holy trinity' to provide explanations ;)
You've incorporated some ideas from Hermetic philosophy - which I agree with too. In fact some of your ideas parallel mine, whilst I would word them entirely differently as that's my autodidactic perogative.
The best label I've discovered and adopted for myself is a 'Dynamic paridoxicalist' whilst acknowledging a 'Unifying point' - so this is why I feel that it will be impossible to discover how mind emerges from matter unless we can also consider how matter emerges from mind. Hold the two opposing thoughts, mix them around a bit and if you're lucky enough you hit the Unifying Point where the paradox dissolves and becomes 'self-evident'.
Naturally this entails taking the 'woo' into account - and there's an awful lot of 'bad woo' and 'bad science' to trawl through. I'm afraid my theory will very likely be deemed to be absurd too, or ambiguous at the least - that's part and parcel of the paradox.

Whichever way we choose to tackle this it can only be a good thing that scientism and religion are having the finger pointed at them in a variety of ways - if greater numbers of people keep pointing the fingers then a case will be built whereby varying groups will have to start questioning themselves and the accuracy of the belief systems they've incorporated.

That's working on the assumption that we don't eradicate our species before we've worked out the answers......

I love "Dynamic paradoxicalist"...

...and would claim the same for me, though maybe a slightly different stripe. Thank you for taking the time to skim and read my too many articles.

By one interpretation I agree that matter emerges from mind, and I do think I and colleagues are trying to address it. Indeed it's embedded in our definition of mind. When mind emerges it changes physical things. Even the most basic mind, an organism that senses and responds, altering the world with its response, is one could say new configurations of the same old matter emerging from mind. If we mean that mind can manifest whole new matter, new atoms from nothing, to me that's bad woo. But minds reconfiguring matter, yes that is the question. We see none of that happening before life, or at the quantum level (unless one confuses as so many woos do, the observer (decidely a mind) altering quantum behavior), we can't help but see mind alter matter once life starts, and that's the mystery, a whole new source of behavior emergent in a world that didn't start with it.

If you'd like, here seem to be the possible moves one can make when confronted with the question how did matter become mind?

1. Wrong question, mind made matter, for example God creating the universe.
2. Wrong question, there's only matter, mind is a figment of our imaginations.
3. Wrong question, because there is no matter, only mind.
4. Unanswerable question: We can never know.

Dismissive answers:
1. Simple: There's a little mind in all matter.
2. Mush: There's a cosmic aura mesh of transcendent golden love light, etc. etc. (woo)
3. Inclusive: All things are possible and true. It's all good. No explanation is better than any other.

1. Emergentist: No it's a really good question and the burden is, as the religious suggest, on scientists to answer it. It's the right question for our generations too. We've got enough evidence to strongly suggest that nothing happened because of mind in the universe's first 10 billion years at least in any region we've visited, and nothing happening at the quantum level exhibits any of the features we associate with mind, so the burden is on us to explain it.

I'm an emergentist. And a Dynamic paradoxicalist,

Thanks for writing, Helen.


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Jeremy Sherman is an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision making.


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