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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Sleeping and Dreaming: Does it fit with my Soul Playing Video Game theory?

Sleep is weird. I ended up getting out of bed at 2:30am the other day to jot down some thoughts that were running through my head—I couldn’t really sleep which is abnormal for me.

But I was thinking about sleep… what happens while we are sleeping? I get that we are recharged and have dreams, organize our thoughts and fix our bodies. But I got to thinking about why 1/3 of each of our lives is supposed to be spent sleeping. That just seems like a long charge and a quick drain. I’ve always thought about how much I could get done if I only had to sleep say, 2 hours per night. Can you imagine 6 extra hours per day to write, read, work out, or just watch movies?

So browsing in the book store, I came across a book in which one section claimed to have a method of only sleeping 2 hours per day, and being fully rested and healthy. I am a skeptic… certain things I want to believe… but really? 2 hours?

The kicker was that all the sleep wouldn’t be at the same time. The two hours is supposed to be split into 6 parts throughout the day: a 20 minute nap at 10am, 20 minute nap at 2pm, same at 6pm, 10pm, 2am and 4am. But don’t oversleep, the book warns, or you will throw off your system, and possibly turn into a gremlin. I was left wondering how the hell anyone can just immediately go to sleep for 20 minutes, and then immediately get up. And obviously this schedule presents certain problems for anyone with a normal job, kids, or like, a life.

As I said I don’t believe everything I read, it has got to make sense to me. But then I thought about how I’ve heard that certain types of batteries want to be charged long before they are depleted, and that this actually gives the battery a longer life. What if humans are shortening their lives by depleting their batteries every day before we charge them? Could it be that taking the time to charge ourselves when we get down to 50%, or even 70% will make our batteries last longer?

All the talk about charging batteries got me thinking about my post, What if Life is Just our Souls Playing Video GamesAha now this whole weird sleeping thing makes a bit more sense. We need to save the game so that our data isn’t lost! Perhaps dreams are simply our soul’s experiences being uploaded to “heaven” each night, and we see those experiences all jumbled together because it happens so quickly, we only get glimpses of this and that. Maybe in dreams our friends end up in a setting they were never in, or we experience something we only saw on TV, or do something waking us wants to do. It’s just all jumbled together being uploaded, and our video game self is confused at the apparent glitch, while our souls totally get it.

But you only dream during REM sleep… which just so happens to be about 2 hours per night. See where I’m going with this? Is REM sleep the only kind of sleep that revives us, and therefore the only part we need? Are the other 6 hours wasted laying there? Perhaps there is something to the idea that we only need 2 hours of sleep per day, as long as it’s the right type of sleep. And furthermore, this makes us seem more like our phones with batteries, and if we are more like our phones than ourselves, then what is controlling that phone? In this idea, it would be our “souls” controlling the “phone” (our human bodies), the phone connecting us to “heaven”/”the afterlife” whatever you want to call it.

Maybe video game controller would be a better analogy than phone, but same idea. If our video-game-playing soul is connecting to (the game) earth through our bodies, that would mean we are simply the device. And if our souls don’t save the game often enough, things can go awry. People go crazy when they don’t get enough sleep; does our soul forget it is in a video game, or our bodies get too far separated from our souls, without the chance to upload and organize the experiences of “the game”? And in that way, uploading or saving 6 times a day could keep our bodies even more organized, and increase our battery life.

But then again I wouldn’t be so quick to discount those 6 hours “wasted” every night, when we are not dreaming in REM sleep. Maybe that time is a chance for our souls to disconnect from the game of life, and do what they need to do in whatever realm they live in.