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As I change and learn, I like to re-examine the things I believe in. I now believe that ideas can be true, partly true, false, or the answer is unknowable. One of my beliefs that I have re-eamined is my view on Evolution. I used to think that clearly evolution was true and the fossil record was proof of this fact. Then came intelligent design

wikipedia definition - Intelligent design

Which I initially dismissed as an idea pushed by people with an agenda, but then I looked deeper at their ideas. I also researched things like Rupert Sheldrake's morphic fields and the changes in wing color of the Peppered Moth in England as the amount of air pollution had changed in the last 70 years.

What if both sides of the debate are partially correct? What if a force occansionally stepped in to modify the traits of a population so it could surive, but sometimes this force did not act in time. Perhaps we could call this force Gaia or The Force. This force might appear to some to be a god, but it might possibly be more accurately described as the consciousness of this planet. This consciousness is aware and it thinks but in a way that is very alien to our way of thinking.

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I don't really think it's important WHAT we believe but WHY we believe it.

Whether it's religion, philosophy, science or whatever- we are going to learn more about all these things everyday of our lives and what we "believe" is probably going to not so much change over time but expand continuously.

When we learn something or pick up a new viewpoint, what we learned isn't new, it was already there waiting to be discovered by you. The information didn't change, what was available didn't change but your awareness changed.

The word "changed" is really a poor word though. "Expanded" is a more accurate word. Have you ever met someone you haven't seen in a few years and you were surprised by how much they've "changed?" They didn't change at all. Aspects of them that you remember are now dormant and new characteristics that you don't recognize are now active. They expanded.

I think it's most important to know why you have a belief. What are you doing with it? Why even think about it? What's it's purpose? What does it serve? Where is it taking you?

I find it useful to deturmine if an idea can stand alone without my belief in it. Then I know I've found a truth. I can feel the wind, I can feel the suns rays, I can be still and know peace. But if I'm angry I need to look at things in a certain way in order to even be angry so it's not a truth, it's just a program. It's a set of ideas that all give rise to an idea. By itself it has no reality.

The problem with everything I've said here is that you can argue endlessly about the semantics or about "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" type statements. That's why I stick to usefull things. If it's useful, I use it. If not, I'm too busy using the useful to ponder or debate the unusefull.

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Funny, I can no longer think of these theories as being in opposition to one another. They are all quite possibly in support of one another, if you chunk up to a frame big enouph.

I like what Bian Swimme, the mathematical cosmologist who wrote "The Universe is a Green Dragon" and other books. In it, he points out that physicists now know that all atoms are mede of the same stuff, all molecules are made of the same stuff, yet there is Carbon, Nitrogen, etc. Further, trees and people and cats and rocks are made of the same stuff too...he poses the questions "How does a tree know to pull this matter into the form of a tree?" or for that matter, a person or a cat or an elephant? This suggests a greater inteligence at work.

Interesting how physicists are sounding more like theologians lately...

vitaman

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Debating belief systems is great. I'm all for it. In fact I do it a lot.
It's not science though and I think it's not a good idea to merge disciplines that are fundamentally different.
Intelligent design cannot be substantiated with objectively gathered evidence to support it. An omniscient omnipresent force cannot be observed from outside of itself. It is fundamentally a hypothesis without scientific foundation - ie an idea, a belief. In philosophy, theology etc., that's fine of course, but in science all theories are by their very essence substantiated. Science is not based on subjective belief systems, it's based on observable and recordable proof.

Yes of course there are unanswered questions about the origin of the universe - but just because science cannot or hasn't answered some of these yet doesn't mean that one or more religions automatically can. (and let's face it - the chicken and egg question is logically unanswerable even on the abstract conceptual level of philosophical debate without turning into a neverending circular argument - if the answer is that the only solution to the origin of the Universe is God or the existence of some intelligent "creator" then, the obvious question remains, what or who created the creator?) Another way of looking at it is this; at the end of the day we cannot prove scientifically that God exists - now of course we also cannot prove that God doesn't exist, but that doesn't really mean anything in scientific terms. It's an avenue not even worth going down as far as science is concerned.

I'm not contesting anyone's belief systems here, by the way - I of course have my own too. But they're not scientific.

The example often cited is of the giant teapot in space. Let's just say I believe a giant teapot exists in space and controls what happens on earth. Satellites cannot pick it up because it's out of range, but I believe it is there (perhaps lots of other people join me in this belief and before long lots of people believe in the teapot and do so for many centuries). At the end of the day you can challenge me by saying that I cannot prove that the Giant Teapot exists - I can respond by saying that you cannot disprove its existence. Now where does that leave us? You can perhaps understand in this context why scientists would be reticent to waste valuable time, money and resources trying to find the teapot in space just because myself and a large group of people have either learnt or decided to believe it exists? Where would they even begin their search? How could objective, observational methodology work in pursuit of an inferred belief?

Science and religion don't mix. Science is a methodology not a concept and we are in danger of thwarting the mysteries and adventures of true, unhampered scientific investigation and exploration if we begin burdening and restricting it with preconceived socio-cultural or religious ideas and concepts which happen to be popular or predominant at a given time in history.

Ingrid

PS: I'm not even a scientist by the way - I was really bad at it in school!
PPS: I am, no doubt like others on this forum, also very excited about the discoveries of quantum sub-atomic physics and how they have recently been linked with a melting pot of Eastern philosophies and ancient healing disciplines - I even enjoy a bit of Fritjof Capra and Deepak Chopra, but that still doesn't make any of this philosophical conceptualising scientific!

Last edited by Ingrid; 06/07/06 10:41 PM.
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Dear Friends,

As a scientist and educator, I sincerely appreciate what Ingrid wrote in the last post. Well put! I also appreciate Coldrayne and vita-man's perspectives, which are most enlightened.

By its very nature, the scientific method is a tool by which we try to minimize subjectivity and maximize objectivity in evaluating the workings of the material universe, which is already abundant enough in its mysteries to keep us fully occupied for the foreseeable future. At the same time, scientists are human, too, and we are as fallible as anyone else. And, of course, our instruments are imperfect, too. We can only do our best, and we try as much as humanly possible to conduct experiments and interpret the results with as much intelligence, integrity, and honestly as possible. The method itself is self-correcting, and when mistakes happen (intentionally or accidentally), the truth eventually surfaces, because while researchers are fallible, the scientific method itself is robust.

In doing science, we try to minimize the number of assumptions we have to make, and if we assume something, it must be for a good reason. With regard to evolution vs. creationism, a possible approach is to assume a creator exists at the beginning, and then everything else follows according to the natural laws which that creator put in place. Okay ... but that's an awfully big assumption. So, we play a game ... let's not make the assumption of a creator ... is there enough evidence to support the theory of evolution. Oh, yes, there certainly is. But does that necessarily mean there is no creator? Not at all. Science does not try to prove or disprove the existence of God, god, or gods. It merely tries to construct a rational model of the universe based on the fewest assumptions, reproducible experiments, and verifiable observations. At the same time, a model is not the real thing, of course, and certainly not unique.

Why the line between physics and metaphysics seems to be growing more and more blurry is very interesting. Extra-dimensions, time-travel, and non-locality were not too long ago found only inside colorful sci-fi novels, but are now topics of serious research upon which the brightest minds today build entire careers. Some have popularized these ideas and extended them quite liberally beyond their original context. While they help to feed the imagination, it's a bit premature to become religiously attached to them. We are merely beginning as a community of conscious beings to discover the truth of it all. Paradigms come and go, and tomorrow may bring a completely new way of seeing things.

Until then, may your step and path be light,

HF

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So may we all pick up our test tubes, beakers and bunsen burners and head down that path with a spring in our step!

(there's a scientist in me yet just waiting to get out...!)

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Quote:

I think it's not a good idea to merge disciplines that are fundamentally different.




I love this forum. It's so much fun.

There are so many directions this thread could go now. We could talk about how science changes one funeral at a time (from Max Planck). Or how people have so much invested in their belief systems (such as x years of education and x years of research).

But here is the second part of my first post. While I was thinking about the possibility that science and religion are both partly correct, I was walking my dogs through this huge nature filled canyon by my house (which, by the way is frequented by a pack of Coyotes. A small female almost always comes to see me and I can usually feel her prescence before I can find her. I think she can feel my presence when I arrive. In the past I have had my awareness shift inside her head, and I could see through her eyes, and feel through her body.)

Anyways, my consciousness sometimes shifts to another (presumably) higher state when I walk here. I focus on my breathing. Then I focus on the sounds of my footsteps. Then I focus on the sounds around me like the birds and the insects. By this time I am in a much deeper state.

In this state, I find that I can focus on or "scan" things and understanding seems to come to me. I understand things to a level that does always translate back to words. This is certainly not the scientific method, but after all, how did people like Einstein come up with special and general relativity (it looks like he worked backwards from the answer) or how did Tesla come with the many, many things he invented.

Coyote

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Dear Coyote,

Regarding higher states of consciousness, well, there is still no rigorous
scientific model to explain even normal states of consciousness to begin
with, let alone higher ones. We're just barely scratching the surface
with our EEG scans, neurochemistry, and neuroanatomy, let alone the more
daring theories involving quantum gravity and consciousness (e.g. Roger
Penrose).

One thing that comes to mind regarding higher states of consciousness is
how easily it can be induced with chemical substances, the mind-altering
drugs which we are currently at war with. I can't speak from personal
experience, as I've never felt the need or desire to try these drugs, but
the effects are well documented in the literature. Indeed, when cocaine
was first popularized, Sigmund Freud experimented with it extensively on
himself and his patients, at one time declaring it to be the miracle drug
which was the answer to many psychoses and the cure for morphine
addiction. Of course, he quickly became a cocaine addict himself, but
after the health detriments of using cocaine were eventually demonstrated,
he was able to recover from his addiction quickly. Ironically, it was
cocaine which induced in him the wild, vivid dreams that later motivated
him to conduct his monumental work on dreams.

And it's well known that tribal rituals involving spiritual journeys
incorporate hallucinatory agents to induce the seeker into states of
higher consciousness, that is, drug-induced trances.

So there is clearly a physical route to what may be experienced as a
"higher state of consciousness." And I'm sure many a poet, artist,
musician, writer, philosopher, scientist, etc., benefited from such
experiences to inspire their works. I've always found it curious that
many great scientists, such as Feynman and Einstein, were chain smokers,
for instance. And the great mathematician Erdos openly declared that when
he did not take amphetamines, he could not come up with any new
mathematical ideas.

Many other experiences have also been tied in one way or another to higher
states of consciousness: meditation, prayer, near-death-experiences,
extreme mental/physical traumas, nootropics, being "in-the-zone",
enlightenment, hypnosis, back-to-nature type of experiences (such as your
walks in the canyon) come immediately to mind.

Well, I'm not sure whether my rambling addressed your original concern. I
look forward to our continued discussions and wish you many more states
in the higher realm,

HF

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My partner had a similar experience once when a friend of ours lost her dog and he was able to tell us quite frankly exactly where the dog was by literally suddenly "being in its head" (it had found its way to one of the local Chinese restaurants and was rummaging through the bins!). My partner is a major skeptic mind, so he doesn't promote the fact that he has these "moments", but we joke about it sometimes and call it his "Jedi mind trick". Apparently it worked very well one time on a train journey in London when my partner had forgotten his pass and a ticket inspector was coming up the aisle - he totally didn't ask Mik for a ticket, even though Mik had just got on the train!
On a more serious note, a close friend of my Mum's was having triple by-pass surgery and it wasn't looking good. Mum woke up in the middle of the night and for some reason just "knew" that her friend wasn't going to die, even though by all accounts it was very much on the cards. She was so calmly confident that she in fact phoned his wife to reassure her. (we had him round for dinner last week!).
Notably my mother is also a skeptic (having taught Philosophy of Mind, of Religion and also Medical Ethics before she retired - she was also a nurse in her younger years). But she has lived all her life with Lupus and does feel drawn to a search for healing - which she believes can only be fundamentally found through the mind and through spiritual connection. (she's come a long way from being brought up in a very narrow-minded fear-inducing convent school in Vienna!) She constantly reminds me when we're in the process of talking about the Gnostic gospels, Mysticism, Joel Goldsmith, Krishnamurti, Alan Watts or whatever, how many of her former philosophy colleagues would be rolling about laughing at even the mention of metaphysics.
It still allows for good conversation and well, we're now both level III Reiki practitioners - I know the theoretical and conceptual explanation for how Reiki works but there is still always that element of mystery. It does definitely work in practice though and it is definitely not the placebo effect (I've treated extreme skeptics for migraines and it seems to have worked on them despite their indignation!)
I am understandably interested in how Reiki, Qigong and other forms of energetic healing have been performing in clinical tests in the West. I know that there are a number of initiatives in the UK's NHS to incorporate these practices particularly into hospice care (where it has apparently proven very popular). Maybe the proof will catch up with the pudding!
best wishes
Ingrid

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Hi again ...

Michael Persinger's work also came to mind. He induced religious-type experiences in subjects by using magnetic field stimulation.

More about Persinger here (see "Spirituality and the brain" link at the bottom of the page):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Persinger

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