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Spiritual Atheism?


Evolution_beyond
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I've just subjected my beliefs to rigorous rational analysis again. And I've reached some conclusions.

 

I still think that consciousness can exist on a collective level, that animals are conscious (different levels of consciousness though) and that even inanimate matter contains the seeds or building blocks of consciousness.

 

However that's about as far as it goes. There could be a collective consciousness in terms of human society, or even all life on the planet - but that is very far from postulating the existence of any kind of god. Also, I have rejected any belief in a subjective after-life experience. Consciousness will still exist on the collective level, and in a sense the possiblity of consciousness is recycled as the matter is recycled - but that doesn't equal any kind of subjective continuation of conscious experience.

 

This is pretty daunting and difficult to get a handle on. I'm used to thinking in terms of continued existence after death, and of some kind of intelligence beyond me looking out through my eyes. But I don't think there's any rational reason to take things that far.

 

However, I see no reason why consciousness, being a kind of connectedness and a form of information processing, couldn't also happen on a mass, collective level as information is passed between beings. This would be the world of memes or consensus reality I suppose.

 

The funny thing is that I can still see the value of looking at things in a 'spiritual' manner. There's no reason to believe in anything supernatural. But nature itself seems to favour balance. Evolution is the process by which whatever works is what survives - and what works according to nature is balance, a sort of co-operation between different life-forms so that they can co-exist. So in a way there is a loose form of morality in nature. Despite the 'tooth-and-claw' nature of hunter and hunted, there is also an over-arching need for balance and co-existence. True progress therefore cannot but respect harmony and peace in the dealings between human beings and between humanity and the natural world because the only other option is mutual destruction.

 

And if conscious beings learn as they grow, so too does the human race learn on a collective level. There is plenty of scope for spiritual ways of looking at things within atheism. That is perhaps why Buddhism and Taoism have some value. These are atheist forms of spirituality.

 

This is perhaps why if I am asked whether I am an atheist or a theist I'd be inclined to answer "it depends what you mean by the term God". There may well be consciousness on a greater, more collective level since consciousness is only information processing - you could refer to such a thing as a god. But I think to do that tends to make rational thinking a little fuzzy and cloudy. It's better to call it what it is - collective consciousness - and avoid anthropomorphising it.

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Do what feels right to you.

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Aaaarrrggghhhhhhh....stop it.............get out of my head!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

:HaHa:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I agree that it is in no way a continuation of a separate identity, but more experience added to the originating flow. So, in a way, it remains but as a sort of experience added to the Consciousness????

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I think what you're describing is more like Buddhism. Seems very zen, anyway. :)

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As the brain is the seat of individual consciousness, what is the seat of collective consciousness?

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As the brain is the seat of individual consciousness, what is the seat of collective consciousness?

 

I've been increasingly coming across references to the brain just being part of the process by which we are conscious. It seems there may be more to 'gut feelings' than cliche and old wives tales. If the individual seat of consciousness is now being uncovered as much more complex than something that can be tracked to a location - the same maybe true collectively.

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As the brain is the seat of individual consciousness, what is the seat of collective consciousness?

Not to defend the idea of a collective consciousness, but ask yourself if it is the whole brain being the seat of the individual consciousness or is it just a small segment or fraction of it, or a single neuron?

 

In a collective consciousness the seat is in the collective, not separated or partially. Just as much the brain is a collective of billions (or is it trillions?) of neurons, and there isn't one single neuron you can point to and say, "See, here it is!" Consciousness is the sum of its parts.

 

Currently, cultures and memeplexes that thrive in the memesphere have their own "lives" already. Ideas float and replicate and feed etc, on a different level than just the physical. Its on a "meta-level" of existence, above the individual. The individual as a collective is important and necessary for the meme to exist and "live", while just one single individual is not.

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In a collective consciousness the seat is in the collective, not separated or partially. Just as much the brain is a collective of billions (or is it trillions?) of neurons, and there isn't one single neuron you can point to and say, "See, here it is!" Consciousness is the sum of its parts.

I think that's my question. Or, to extend it as Alice mentioned about "gut feelings" -- where are the collective guts and collective neurons which are the seat of a collective consciousness? Your guts aren't my guts, and my neurons aren't your neurons.

 

If you're talking about a general awareness in a given population, due to media, gossip, traditions, etc., that's one thing -- but to posit that through no known mechanism the entire planet shares a body of information is, to me, like positing that through no known mechanism there was/is a consciousness who was/is a creator of all existence.

 

I was, btw, taught to accept the concept of collective consciousness during the years that my parents were Rosicrucians. I tried very hard to make it make sense, as I did with reincarnation and, earlier, accepting Jesus as my personal savior.

 

I think that sometimes we humans want so badly that there be a force or presence greater than can be grasped, that we can't entirely give up trying to manufacture it.

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In a collective consciousness the seat is in the collective, not separated or partially. Just as much the brain is a collective of billions (or is it trillions?) of neurons, and there isn't one single neuron you can point to and say, "See, here it is!" Consciousness is the sum of its parts.

I think that's my question. Or, to extend it as Alice mentioned about "gut feelings" -- where are the collective guts and collective neurons which are the seat of a collective consciousness? Your guts aren't my guts, and my neurons aren't your neurons.

 

If you're talking about a general awareness in a given population, due to media, gossip, traditions, etc., that's one thing -- but to posit that through no known mechanism the entire planet shares a body of information is, to me, like positing that through no known mechanism there was/is a consciousness who was/is a creator of all existence.

 

I was, btw, taught to accept the concept of collective consciousness during the years that my parents were Rosicrucians. I tried very hard to make it make sense, as I did with reincarnation and, earlier, accepting Jesus as my personal savior.

 

I think that sometimes we humans want so badly that there be a force or presence greater than can be grasped, that we can't entirely give up trying to manufacture it.

 

It doesn't have to be supernatural, though. Not even "quantum physics" variety supernatural.

 

My theory is that when you step back and look at the way human interact on a large scale, we're sort of like hive insects...like ants. Very smart ants. The whole sense of "I am just an individual" is a bit of an illusion. So that "feeling" of being part of a "universal unconscious" (or whatever) might be our vague awareness of being part of the human "hive" system.

 

Just a theory...

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As the brain is the seat of individual consciousness, what is the seat of collective consciousness?

 

The human beings (and other animals, in the case of planetary consciousness) - and the words, concepts and sensory experiences that connect them.

 

This is analagous to brain cells and the connections between them. If separate entities can pass information between them so as to result in consciousness on the level of a brain, I see no reason it couldn't happen with information passed between separate entities on a larger scale.

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In a collective consciousness the seat is in the collective, not separated or partially. Just as much the brain is a collective of billions (or is it trillions?) of neurons, and there isn't one single neuron you can point to and say, "See, here it is!" Consciousness is the sum of its parts.

I think that's my question. Or, to extend it as Alice mentioned about "gut feelings" -- where are the collective guts and collective neurons which are the seat of a collective consciousness? Your guts aren't my guts, and my neurons aren't your neurons.

 

If you're talking about a general awareness in a given population, due to media, gossip, traditions, etc., that's one thing -- but to posit that through no known mechanism the entire planet shares a body of information is, to me, like positing that through no known mechanism there was/is a consciousness who was/is a creator of all existence.

 

I was, btw, taught to accept the concept of collective consciousness during the years that my parents were Rosicrucians. I tried very hard to make it make sense, as I did with reincarnation and, earlier, accepting Jesus as my personal savior.

 

I think that sometimes we humans want so badly that there be a force or presence greater than can be grasped, that we can't entirely give up trying to manufacture it.

 

It doesn't have to be supernatural, though. Not even "quantum physics" variety supernatural.

 

My theory is that when you step back and look at the way human interact on a large scale, we're sort of like hive insects...like ants. Very smart ants. The whole sense of "I am just an individual" is a bit of an illusion. So that "feeling" of being part of a "universal unconscious" (or whatever) might be our vague awareness of being part of the human "hive" system.

 

Just a theory...

 

 

Exactly so.

 

Plus if animals are also conscious (admittedly a more fuzzy form of consciousness) and ecosystems form a kind of balance and sensory experiences connect animals of different species in their awareness of each other - there could be some form of shared consciousness there. I just hold it out as a possibility.

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In a collective consciousness the seat is in the collective, not separated or partially. Just as much the brain is a collective of billions (or is it trillions?) of neurons, and there isn't one single neuron you can point to and say, "See, here it is!" Consciousness is the sum of its parts.

I think that's my question. Or, to extend it as Alice mentioned about "gut feelings" -- where are the collective guts and collective neurons which are the seat of a collective consciousness? Your guts aren't my guts, and my neurons aren't your neurons.

You and I are the neurons in the collective consciousness.

 

The reason why I can't defend a collective consiousness to 100% is because what is lacking right now is the direct communication links, or the efficiency thereof. The brain does have quick com-links between the neurons, and fairly fixed ones too, and that is important for consciousness to exist. We talk and communicate, but in a very chaotic way. I'd say there is a very simple form of collective consciousness right now, and it doesn't exist with a person, but within the information that lives through words. Books works as memory, TV, face-to-face, news paper is transfering new information, and internet is a high speed communication and memory at the same time. The more we're using internet and cell phones and texting, the faster this collective consciuosness will grow.

 

If we one day have a cell-phone/internet-access implant for the brain, we'll talk much faster and more accurate, then the CC could become very tangible. Now, the tricky part is that we can't "talk" to the CC, or the CC talk to us, because we are not on the same meta level of existence. CC only exists because of us, and got its own mind and own will.

 

If you're talking about a general awareness in a given population, due to media, gossip, traditions, etc., that's one thing -- but to posit that through no known mechanism the entire planet shares a body of information is, to me, like positing that through no known mechanism there was/is a consciousness who was/is a creator of all existence.

Like I said above, I don't think this CC exists to that extreme position, it does exist in a very rudimentary form, like a given population or through computer/internet nerds like us. I'd say there are multiple CC-s, but each one of them are like the level of an ants brain in complexity. One day (maybe) we would have higher and faster "axons" and the CC brain will become more like a rat's brain maybe.

 

CC doesn't have to do anything with creator of all existence, it's rather the opposite, the existence is creating the CC.

 

But if the idea that history is a result of collapsed probabilities caused by a future observer is correct, then the possible future existence of a Universal CC is the cause of our existence through observation... :) No, I don't have any advils...

 

I was, btw, taught to accept the concept of collective consciousness during the years that my parents were Rosicrucians. I tried very hard to make it make sense, as I did with reincarnation and, earlier, accepting Jesus as my personal savior.

That's a different kind of CC, since spiritualists and mysticists believe in some supernatural way of communicating, basically that we have some form of telepathy. Maybe we do, or maybe we don't, but if we do it is for sure an extremely poor and low energy communication, worse than our verbal or written way. But who knows, maybe there is something, it's just not strong enough for us to be able to test it...

 

I think that sometimes we humans want so badly that there be a force or presence greater than can be grasped, that we can't entirely give up trying to manufacture it.

Because many of us want and need a coping mechanism, something to fall back on and help us hide our fears and our confusion over life, nature, infinite, space and all the other unknowns. For me it's enough to watch movies and dream away for a little moment. I don't need to live a fantasy 24/7, and that could be the difference. Somehow many have a need to live in a delusion, and if they failed in some of the, they just come up with new ones.

 

(And my writing is very confused right now, because I just came out of bed. Fuzzy brain and frizzy hair.)

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Then I conclude that what you currently see as CC, Han, is public awareness made more aware through advancements in technology. As I said before, I've no quarrel with that, but I'd call it "advanced public awareness" rather than the somewhat mysti-meta-psi "collective consciousness".

 

Your fuzzy brain is forgiveable. Dunno about the frizzy hair. :scratch:

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Have you heard about the Technological Singularity or Transhumanism?

I read both links. Seems the first can mainly be found in science fiction and the latter in Southern California. And, as we all know, science fiction and Southern California are interchangeable terms, right? :wicked:

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I guess it would be Sci-Cali-Fiction.

 

These guys takes it pretty serious though: http://www.singinst.org/. It's not completely crazy stuff. If tech continues the way it does today, we'll see huge changes in our way of life.

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I sorta believe this too. I have no belief whatsoever in an all knowing man in the sky. But I do believe that everything originates from a field of energy or something. It is just all encompassing, and it isn't divine perfection either. It just is. The saying goes, "Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It just transforms." That is what I think everyone and everything does. We are just in this continous cycle of existence on some level or another...Just not all heavenly surburbia like X-tians believe.

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You and I are the neurons in the collective consciousness.

 

Interesting... :scratch:

 

Though I'm inclined to agree with you on this, on a tangible social level wouldn't this mean that all individuals in the world co-operate and that there is a harmonious cohesion among humanity? Because I don't really see that happening...Just a thought. :)

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I sorta believe this too. I have no belief whatsoever in an all knowing man in the sky. But I do believe that everything originates from a field of energy or something. It is just all encompassing, and it isn't divine perfection either. It just is. The saying goes, "Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It just transforms." That is what I think everyone and everything does. We are just in this continous cycle of existence on some level or another...Just not all heavenly surburbia like X-tians believe.

 

Doesn't that apply to matter? (Matter is neither created nor destroyed, it merely changes states.")

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Though I'm inclined to agree with you on this, on a tangible social level wouldn't this mean that all individuals in the world co-operate and that there is a harmonious cohesion among humanity? Because I don't really see that happening...Just a thought. :)

Maybe "world" is to wide of a scope in this current time, but in the future it might get to the point (or maybe not). Some level of homogeny occurs in smaller groups, and even in larger groups in some areas of ideas and thought (at least so it seems). The masses of people tend to behave in some level of cohesion, but it's also dependent on what it is about. Like the stock market, a huge number of people go crazy, all together, but not all, and not in all areas of life. Society as a "thinking being" isn't as clear or as function compared to an individual mind, at least not yet, but I do think it could happen in the future and we see only a small taste of it today with Internet and Media overall. The faster ideas and information can flow between individual minds, the less individual identity will we have. For instance, if we had the cell phone directly connected to some parts of our brain, and lets say I felt pain and some level of this pain was transfered to some individuals in my vicinity, and their pain were transfered to me as well, both them and me would start acting differently. We would start acting truly "altruistic" because I would make sure pain was not inflicted on my close neigbor since it would effect me directly. And the same thing would happen (I think) with learning and knowledge etc, if someone reads a book and I get some of their ideas straight to my brain, my understanding would grow with the help of others, and vice versa. Scary things, but possible in the future.

 

Wood, I think it's energy since they collide particles in those accelerators and get pure energy. E=mc^2

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As the brain is the seat of individual consciousness, what is the seat of collective consciousness?

 

Empathy; a sence that others have feelings and concerns like you.

 

However... it still resides in the brain.

 

Mongo

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There may well be consciousness on a greater, more collective level since consciousness is only information processing - you could refer to such a thing as a god. But I think to do that tends to make rational thinking a little fuzzy and cloudy. It's better to call it what it is - collective consciousness - and avoid anthropomorphising it.

 

Isn't thinking for yourself great?

 

The one true thing I know is that all people want to be part of something bigger than themselves.

 

Religion -- to me -- is a huge exaggeration that the church, which is bigger than the individual, is also bigger than the church. The church is bigger than humanity because it is part of god who is bigger than humanity. Bla bla bla...

 

Some people can only aspire to be part of an big illusion rather than plugging into the real collective specis.

 

By the way -- animals with consciousness seems perfectly logical to me now that I'm not hung up on humans being somehow special. To me they are like modern honda civics. Animals don't have all the mental gadgets we humans have -- we're loaded... mental Hummers -- but they are no longer Edsels or the old little civic... they have highly advanced technology. Each of their traits have evolved significantly and in many cases have evolved in significant superiority to humans.

 

Mongo

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Your guts aren't my guts, and my neurons aren't your neurons.

 

Yes, I can see your point. But the conscious arises from the communications and interactions that happens between your individual neurons. What arises from the communications and interactions between individual people? between people and their environment? among the environmental entities themselves?

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The outlook I'm attempting to support in this thread is the wisdom of not making conclusions beyond what we know.

 

As Mongo rightly points out, empathy exists -- but it's a sense/feeling that arises from one's perceptual and cognitive processes. It becomes messy and mystical and maybe anti-rational to suppose that empathy, or any other individual human emotion or body of thought, can become a free-floating entity of some kind with its own name and identity separate from its function within the makeup of an individual being.

 

Can the empathic behavior of a whole bunch of empathic humans sway a whole bunch of others to become more empathic? Of course. But that's still the result of many individuals processing information.

 

HuaiDan:

Yes, I can see your point. But the conscious arises from the communications and interactions that happens between your individual neurons. What arises from the communications and interactions between individual people? between people and their environment? among the environmental entities themselves?

 

I think it's in error to suppose that what happens within an individual brain/mind is a process which can be extrapolated to apply to what happens among socially-engaged individuals.

****************************

 

If we stop at what we know we avoid the pitfall of attaching extra meaning, identity and significance to that which is unknown.

 

If religionists had avoided making conclusions beyond the known and demonstrable; if they had regarded anything unknown as merely "As-of-now Unknown," eons of misery might have been avoided.

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As the brain is the seat of individual consciousness, what is the seat of collective consciousness?

 

Empathy; a sence that others have feelings and concerns like you.

 

However... it still resides in the brain.

 

Mongo

Yes, but why does the brain invoke the experience of empathy?

 

Neuroscience/biology can answer all the easy questions of consciousness by addressing their functions, but they haven't been able to answer the hard question of experience. Empathy would seem to be a reaction to environmental stimuli, but why do we experience the emotion of it? How do we experience what it is like to be in an empathatic state?

 

David Chalmers states this:

 

The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought. What unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.

 

It is undeniable that some organisms are subjects of experience. But the question of how it is that these systems are subjects of experience is perplexing. Why is it that when our cognitive systems engage in visual and auditory information-processing, we have visual or auditory experience: the quality of deep blue, the sensation of middle C? How can we explain why there is something it is like to entertain a mental image, or to experience an emotion? It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does.

 

He goes on to address the reductionist's views and shows why the explanation still doesn't address the problem of experience. He then goes on to propose the answer to the question may be a non-reductive theory of experience and that this major element of consciousness is a fundamental property of nature.

 

I suggest that a theory of consciousness should take experience as fundamental. We know that a theory of consciousness requires the addition of something fundamental to our ontology, as everything in physical theory is compatible with the absence of consciousness. We might add some entirely new nonphysical feature, from which experience can be derived, but it is hard to see what such a feature would be like. More likely, we will take experience itself as a fundamental feature of the world, alongside mass, charge, and space-time. If we take experience as fundamental, then we can go about the business of constructing a theory of experience.

 

Both quotes are from here: Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness

 

He puts forth that although physical processes and experience are required for consciousness, one aspect of information processing may be phenomenal.

 

The informational view allows us to understand how experience might have a subtle kind of causal relevance in virtue of its status as the intrinsic nature of the physical. This metaphysical speculation is probably best ignored for the purposes of developing a scientific theory, but in addressing some philosophical issues it is quite suggestive.
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