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This thread is for examining questions about the unexplained from a philosophical and/or scientific perspective. While this can include religious and mystical subject matter, please be as objective as possible. This is not a forum for sermonizing. To start off, here's a video featuring Alvin Plantinga, who was recently mentioned by an infrequent poster @smcder in this thread.
This will probably stir some controversy. My first response to one of Plantinga's video's is here: https://www.theparacast.com/forum/threads/october-20-2013-jerome-clark.14172/page-3#post-173274
To continue from the previous thread: The key point for me is that Plantinga asserts that belief in God is only rational if it is true that God exists. There are some other issues he brings into the mix that I'm not entirely comfortable with. But this one point on truth doesn't seem to be escapable.
So the real question then becomes, how do we tell whether or not God exists? We've been through that here on the forum a number of times. Plantinga argues in the video above that his personal experience is sufficient reason for him to believe. Is that really a supportable position? I think that for him ( personally ) it is. But of what relevance is that for the rest of us?
“Evolution doesn’t care about true belief.”
The average person believes in some form of a God. Atheism although more popular now than in the past, is not the norm. That being the case - if so many people, all the product of millions of years of evolution believe in God - might that propensity itself be a result of faulty perception programmed into us by evolution?
I hold firm to the idea that - spirituality, for severe lack of a better term, doesn’t necessitate a God. Companies have CEO’s. Businesses have managers. Bands have front men. We have an expectancy for there to be an alpha component in all social dynamics. We then map that out into the metaphysical. I don’t think it’s necessarily our fault though - organized religion from its inception was well aware of the psychological effect their presence had, and how to exploit archetypes. When I was a kid, I used to manipulate my little sister into doing things I wanted her to do by simply lying and saying “Dad said so.”.
Hello @Golden_Vimana. I have been away from the paracast forums for quite a long time and have not met you in the past. I wonder if you would clarify the meaning of this statement in your post --
"We have an expectancy for there to be an alpha component in all social dynamics. We then map that out into the metaphysical."
Hello constance. I’d be happy to.
“Take me to your leader.” - a sci-fi trope that says a lot about how we think.
We expect groups and organizations to be shaped like a pyramid. We expect there to be a hierarchy. When you have a dispute with a cashier at Walmart, you ask for the manager. I’m not saying any of this in a pejorative sense - I simply mean, whenever we encounter a group, organization or civilization of any type, societal norms have us expect there to be somebody “in charge”. We can even observe it when it’s just two people. There’s generally one person who’s more assertive, while the other is more passive. Since we’re steeped in that dynamic from birth, we then expect the same rule to apply when it comes to transcendent realms, or however you want to refer to consciousness that exists outside the limitations of what we can readily sense. If high schools have principals, and basketball teams have coaches, well then the universe must have - God - right? I think the answer is no, and I think some higher ups within organized religion are well aware of this, taking advantage of our nature.
Thanks Constance! Very extensive and informative.Thanks for your reply, @Golden_Vimana.
Your speculation about how our evolved and evolving species gradually developed an idea or concept of a ‘God’ or higher creative intelligence behind the manifestions of nature as we have experienced nature in succeeding historical epochs is interesting but not persuasive for me. It seems to be based in modern sociology rather than in anthropological research, the latter being essential to our understanding of our species ideations and behaviors in its long historical development.
Granted that in our own time we see increasingly top-down organization and control of human lives and human existence in general, but there have been innumerable causes and influences for the engrossment of power in the hands of current politico-economic leadership on our planet today. No doubt early humans turned to ‘leaders’ of their small communities to manage both successful hunts to acquire food for the group and survival in general. In doing so they would have been guided by preconscious orientations inherited from the evolution of species leading to our own – and supplemented by observations of the group behaviors of species other than our own.
Simultaneous with motivations for basic survival, early humans also experienced the dawning and development of affection and caring for their mates and offspring, and even extended this capability for concern (and regret) to the animals they killed to sustain their own social groups. The long record of these affective ideations and behaviors toward other living beings is striking and still operative in so-called ‘primitive’ peoples occupying ‘first peoples’ territories alongside our over-developed national power structures consuming the planet.
My own approach is based in phenomenological philosophy, cultural anthropology, and the contemporary interdisciplinary field of Consciousness Studies. If you are interested in this approach, the following paper will likely be clarifying.
“Toward a second-person neuroscience,” Toward a second-person neuroscience [Target Article]
“. . . 1.2 An alternative account of social knowing
Before the rise of recent social cognition research there was already an important body of theory and research proposing that, typically, when relating to one another, people are not engaged in a tortuous process of inferences and theorizing about one another, but immediately experience the other as a subject (see Asch 1952; Heider & Simmel 1944; Runeson & Frykholm 1983; Schutz1972; Thinès et al. 1991). This approach drew upon Gestalt theory and phenomenology. Here is Solomon Asch's lucid statement of this position:
“The quality of their actions imbues persons with living reality. When we say that a person is in pain, we see his body as feeling. We do not need to ‘impute’ consciousness to others if we directly perceive the qualities of consciousness in the qualities of action. Once we see an act that is skillful, clumsy, alert, or reckless, it is superfluous to go ‘behind’ it to its conscious substrate, for consciousness has revealed itself in the act (Asch1952, p.158).”
ps, in short, on this view consciousness has evolved and developed in the evolution of species in changing mileaus of individual and social lived experience on this planet (and doubtless on innumerable others). That which is experienced from one historical time and place to another replaces to degrees what has formerly been assumed, for better or worse. Human consciousness has long been embedded in radical existential temporality, first sensed and recognized by our prehistorical ancestors among whom the first stages of ontological thinking emerged as evidenced in their burial practices and other symbolic behaviors. Phenomenology attempts to ground an understanding of consciousness in lived experience as it has developed over our species' historical evolution and in our expressions of our sense of the being and Being of what-is.
I think more and more this theory will lead us to solve all things paranormal.Recently I've been pondering the idea that consciousness is an all encompassing field within 3D space and that we sort of swim through like a fish in the ocean, and that rather than being produced by the brain, it's a phenomenon that is mediated by the brain — filtered analogously to the way that a fish's gills filter oxygen out of the water.
This allows brains and consciousness to be two entirely separate things, but also interdependent when looked at from a holistic perspective. It doesn't do anything to support the idea of afterlives, OOBEs, and NDEs as we typically think of them, but it doesn't preclude such experiences either. It does however fit with the idea that consciousness is fundamental and universal. It also offers a path to resolves issues like the combination problem while merging theories like panpsychism with dualism, and physicalism with naturalism.
NOTE: This particular field theory of consciousness differs from classical field theories in that it doesn't presume that the brain is what is producing the field. So it's different than Köhler’s and Libet’s theories. It might be similar to someone else's. If anyone knows of a similar theory proposed by someone, please post-up a link in your comment.