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Friday, 30 April 2010

Science

It is wonderful. It brought us out of the dark ages, sanitised our minds, freed us from hocus-pocus, witches, black magic and all those nightmares that live like maggots in the half light. How did it do it? It did it simply by not believing in the unprovable. Science is therefore directly responsible for cleaning the sheets of our minds and making us nearly pure. A good scientist is what a priest should be: honest, diligent and a searcher-after-truth. How like religion science is! Psychologists are our confessors, social workers our parish priests, physicists our cosmogenists - and all trained in what we call different branches of science.

But let us be careful: you can't arrive at the truth without someone wanting to own it and then make a living out of it. This of course is what happened to Christianity: the great accumulated wealth of the Church and the self-indulgence that followed, brought about the Reformation and gave Luther and Henry VIII (amongst others) something to complain about.

Who then are the Saints of Science? They are the independent workers who stand firm in the presence of the scientific industries (which only want to endorse research that leads to profit). They are the great men and women who manage to keep their physical bodies intact while pursuing an unbiased search for truth.

Is there any way in which Science is an unsatisfying religion? It can satisfy our need to advance towards truth, to find meaning in our lives, to investigate the origins of the world and of the universe, to heal our spiritual malaise, to hand out healing and mind-enhancing drugs, to unite like-minded truth-seekers in social fraternities. What then, can't it do?

There is one place where it might fall a little short. Science, in demanding that experiments must be repeatable, is not very good with one-offs. A lot of our most crucial experiences consist of one-offs.

Secondly, science tends to regard 'outside' as more real than 'inside'. In other words, the visible universe is the bedrock of science and generally considered more 'real' than we are ourselves. So something we glean from electrodes in our brain is considered much more reliable knowledge than something we actually experience directly for ourselves.

It goes without saying that from a scientific point of view when we die, we stop and the world continues, whereas if we put a lot of store by our own consciousness we might well believe that the world stops and we continue; or at least, in the spirit of mature compromise, that both we and the world continue.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Vampires

As I have already said, we have no evidence that everybody is conscious. We can only speak for ourselves. Consciousness is extraordinary. It doesn't tally with an exclusively mechanistic universe. I strongly suspect that people who do not find anything remarkable in it, have not actually experienced it. In other words, Richard Dawkins is partly right: there are people around us who are biological machines, the unconscious product of a mindless and random biological process - they say they have conscious minds, but only because they are programmed to say that.

The only way Jesus Christ was able to forgive his murderers was by recognising that they were in the unconscious category. "They know not what they do."

The people who are conscious are living out a drama set in an ocean of shadows. No wonder they are beset by acts of psychopathic cruelty: the psychopaths are completely unconscious of what they are doing. Resentment or revenge by those who are conscious is completely pointless and forgiveness is easy: you can forgive an insect for biting you because it is merely manifesting its nature.

It may be that people can drift or switch in and out of consciousness.

This is where vampires come in. Unconscious people are the living dead. They cannot be killed because they are dead already. They themselves have no qualms about hurting others, because, being unconscious, they cannot feel sympathy; they can only make a computation about the most opportune behaviour to bring about their own 'survival'. Of course, their survival is not real because they do not actually experience their lives: they are only shadows.

Real consciousness is quite different from the medical definition of consciousness. Someone whose speech or memory is impaired by brain damage (eg as a result of a stroke or Alzheimer's) may be more conscious than someone with a fully functioning brain. A child or even a foetus may be much more conscious than a functioning adult. Real consciousness means knowing that you exist. It is a perpetual state of wonder.

The vampires are dedicated to the 'survival' of their empty shells. This is the process of evolution, the 'survival of the fittest', the relentless sifting and sorting of material nature towards the perfection of a receptacle which may one day shine with real light.

So currently there is a war on between those who are conscious versus the unconscious 'vampires'. Vampire 'survival' amounts merely to genetic survival through a family tree, and ironically enough, survival of the vampire 'culture'. Vampires are programmed to steer themselves to genetic survival - and that means having children.

That doesn't mean all parents are vampires! But it does mean a sort of struggle between those who are conscious and those who are not, about who should spend time with children. Consciousness is an attractive feature and a great threat to vampires. Modern children pretty well always start their lives by being strongly conscious, but as they fall under the influence of the 'living dead' that spontaneous light becomes clouded and polluted. They are, so to speak, 'bitten on the neck' and although those who 'know the light' fight hard to preserve their god-like inner life, politically the vampires are very strong at the moment.