Friday, October 24, 2008


Dualist religious thinkers, who believe in a soul separate from the 'material' brain, point to evidence from brain scans showing that people can alter their patterns of neural firing at will, and argue that since the mind can change the brain, the mind must be something other than the brain, something non-material. In fact such experiments are entirely consistent with mainstream neurology - the material brain is changing the material brain.
Advocates of Science and religion fight over whether or not 'materialism' is right, but the conflict turns on definitions. What is matter? What do we mean by 'material'?
"At one time it looked like all physical causation was push/pull Newtonianism", says Owen Flanagan, professor of philosophy and neurobiology at Duke University, North Carolina. "Now we have a new understanding of physics. What counts as material has changed. Some respectable philosophers think that we might have to posit sentience as a fundamental force of nature or use quantum gravity to understand consciousness. These stretch beyond the bounds of what we today call 'material', and we haven't discovered everything about nature yet. But what we do discover will be natural, not supernatural."
New Scientist 25 October 2008
For thousands of years, non-dualist philosophers have stated that the natural origin of the world is the Self, pure Existence. It is not 'supernatural' in the sense that it is separate from the world. It is not only a fundamental characteristic of the world (like space, time and energy) but the underlying characteristic, the substrate of reality. They have said that, from the viewpoint of the Self, there is no distinction between 'matter' and 'spirit', 'material world' and 'Self'. Perhaps It is superior to the world (super-natural) in the sense that it is the origin - the world emerges from Self, not Self from world - but when we are talking about a non-dual, beginningless, endless continuum, even the distinction between origin and emerged manifestation is probably meaningless.

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