The Brain and Consciousness: Science and Spirituality

I have a lot of weird musings about the mind, dreams, and consciousness. What is awesome, is learning the science behind some of the things I discuss.

It’s not so much that I am “right” per say when I say that maybe life is just our souls playing video games, but the science leaves open the possibility. My sister and brother-in-law got me a book for Christmas called The Future of the Mind, by Micho Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics.

I started making some connections when I read a chapter about dreaming. In the past, I’ve wondered if perhaps earth is somewhat like a computer simulation, and that when we sleep, information is uploaded to “the heavens” or whatever dimension, and we view this jumbled upload as dreams.

But recently I was thinking, maybe dreams are just random noise most of the time, unless a message needs to be beamed into us. So usually dreams seem random because they are (just random signals in our brains), but that particular dreams could have meaning, not all of them.

This would mean there is essentially a two way radio in our heads if both theories are true, but at least a receiver. So when I read the following in The Future of the Mind, I was somewhat taken aback. Kaku was discussing how a large percentage of temporal lobe epileptics had deep religious experiences, and felt connections with God, Buddha, the universe, or whatever fit with their religious and world view. Dr. Ramachandran who studies these patients said:

“I sometimes wonder whether such patients who have temporal lobe epilepsy have access to another dimension of reality, a wormhole of sorts into a parallel universe. But I usually don’t say this to my colleagues, lest they doubt my sanity.”

Now atheists and theists alike use this information to claim victory in the existential debate. Since a particular section of the brain can be pinpointed that causes these close to God feelings, atheists might assert that it is proof our brain chemistry makes up the existence of God.

But those who are religious and spiritual have a different explanation. God, the universe, or whatever, included in the human design a receiver, in order to communicate. You know, sort of like where the video game controller might plug in. If in fact we are in a massive simulation to help our souls “come of age”, it would make sense that sometimes the signals get jumbled which could create a seizure, or allow us a glimpse into the true nature of existence.

Likewise, if we are not really individuals, but only split up while on earth to feel the loneliness of separation from the whole, pings of feedback from the greater energy could give our earthly forms a taste of heaven, or oneness. So could the temporal lobe simply be a receiver built into the simulation, included in the human design by God, or accessing  another more “real” dimension?

The same Godly effect epileptics sometimes feel can be simulated by a “God helmet” which sends magnetism into specific areas of the brain. Kaku described what happened when 15 Carmelite nuns agreed to try out the “God helmet”.

…the nuns concluded that God placed this “radio” in the brain so that we can communicate with Him.

Their conclusion was that God created humans to have this ability, so the brain has a divine antenna given to us by God so that we can feel his presence. David Biello concludes, “Although atheists might argue that finding spirituality in the brain implies that religion is nothing more than divine delusion, the nuns were thrilled by their brain scans for precisely the opposite reason: they seemed to provide confirmation of God’s interactions with them.”

And I’ve said similar things in the past. Based solely on the brain, you cannot conclude there either is, or is not a God, or afterlife, or eternal energy from whence we came and will return. If there is such higher life, it would be easy for God to create the human brain as such. Or in the simulation theory, if our souls are playing an intricate video game, our brains are simply programmed to work with the simulation, just like we program computers with certain rules in order to run the way we want it to run.

If a little computer chip gained consciousness, would it conclude that the electrical signals entering and exiting were simply an accident of nature, evident in the design of the chip, or would it consider its own programming a gift designed by a higher being? And if your initial reaction is to say, “So what, computer chips are not conscious,” does that not suggest a more intricate reason for our own ability of introspection?

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