Ross Douthat is a conservative American writer whose recent opinion piece in the New York Times constitutes a digest of present-day Christian apologetics, one written by a respected layman and published on the front page of a major newspaper. As such, that piece cries out for a reply. This essay thus constitutes Michael Reynolds' response to and analysis of the common apologetic themes that Douthat parrots.
Do you meditate? If so, why? Is it because you are spiritual? Do you hope that it may lead to enlightenment? What is enlightenment anyway? Does it even exist? In this article Anthony Campell considers these questions in the light of his experience of two methods of meditation, Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Buddhist insight meditation (mindfulness).
Deepak Chopra operates a business that offers "life-changing retreats" and courses instructing clients in meditation and "alternative medicine," especially Indian techniques. In How to Know God he postulates seven responses of the brain to God. From this notion he constructs a detailed theistic scheme. A prominent theme of the book is an attempt to relate his ideas to quantum physics. Readers and reviewers have heaped praise on the work, but it contains numerous errors of fact and logic. In this essay Michael D. Reynolds demonstrates some of the errors in the foundational first chapter of the book.
Once again a news magazine has published an article that "demands an answer." This time a disease-induced hallucination is being propped up on a frame labeled "Science" and sold to the credulous public. Under the guise of science, the article is a regression to the body-mind dualism that since antiquity has distorted humankind's understanding of itself and of the universe. Here, as usual, the chief incentive is the lust for persistence of one's precious ego after death, and the secondary motive is a wish for a gift of unending bliss—both selfish urges.
The question is, how does consciousness arise in biological systems? There are at least two theories that account for consciousness. One is the idea that something is added to the body—an élan vital, a soul, or an independent mind (mind/body dualism). The other idea is that complexity (i.e., consciousness) emerges from the interactions of simple parts. Is there a way to choose one of these as being correct? Yes, by hypothesizing an emergent consciousness in a system that is not yet conscious—the computer. If we hypothesize that consciousness will emerge in a computer, given enough component parts, we can determine by rigorous testing if the hypothesis is proved. If the test proves that consciousness emerges in a computer, we will have proved that a soul is not necessary for consciousness—neither in computers nor in humans.
Julian Jaynes was one of the original psychologists, philosophers, and scholars, of the 20th century. While Charles Darwin connected human consciousness with biological unconscious, Sigmund Freud with psychological unconscious, and Karl Marx with social unconscious, Jaynes connected evolution of human consciousness with the breakdown of the bicameral mind, the Half God/Half Human mind. Although his theory did not become as popular as other theories it is nevertheless worthy of serious consideration.