A Crisis of Doubt



“Armer Mensch, an dem der Kopf alles ist.” (Poor fellow who is all head)

    - Johanne Wolfgang Goethe


“All paths are the same, leading nowhere. Therefore, pick a path with heart!”

    - Carlos Castaneda


All this is a dream. 
Still, examine it by a few experiments.
Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature.

    - Michael Faraday, 1849


We play at paste, 
Till qualified for pearl, 
Then drop the paste, 
And deem ourselves a fool. 

The shapes, though, were similar, 
And our new hands 
Learned gem-tactics 
Practicing sands.

    -   Emily Dickinson


 “I believe that consciousness and its contents are all that exists. Space-time, matter and fields never were the fundamental denizens of the universe but have always been, from their beginning, among the humbler contents of consciousness, dependent on it for their very being.

 The world of our daily experience - the world of tables, chairs, stars and people, with their attendant shapes, smells, feels and sounds - is a species-specific user interface to a realm far more complex, a realm whose essential character is conscious. It is unlikely that the contents of our interface in any way resemble that realm.

 Indeed the usefulness of an interface requires, in general, that they do not [resemble the underlying reality]. For the point of an interface, such as the user interface on a computer, is simplification and ease of use. We click icons because this is quicker and less prone to error than editing megabytes of software or toggling voltages in circuits.

 Evolutionary pressures dictate that our species-specific interface, this world of our daily experience, should itself be a radical simplification [of reality], selected not for the exhaustive depiction of truth but for the mutable pragmatics of survival.

If this is right, if consciousness is fundamental, then we should not be surprised that, despite centuries of effort by the most brilliant of minds, there is as yet no theory that explains how mindless matter or energy or fields could be, or cause, conscious experience.”

    - Donald Hoffman - Cognitive scientist - from an article in which scientists     were asked to describe something they           believe to be true but can’t prove.







I was extremely fortunate to spend four years living and working in Germany, experiencing all that European culture has to offer. But there was a tragic downside. I had to live without baseball. For a baseball votery like me, this was almost unthinkable.

Looking for a replacement for my beloved baseball I made a concerted effort to embrace that European obsession, soccer. But my effort was doomed. You see, after countless hours trying to develop enthusiasm for this formalized version of keep away, I had a profound realization. Soccer is the most frustrating game to play or observe ever devised by mankind. Rather than relax and inspire like baseball, soccer made me swing between narcolepsy and punching holes in walls. And one day the reason came to me why this game drove me mad.

Of all the physical, kinesthetic phenomena that separate man from other of earth’s creatures, none is more profound than the dexterity of our hands. And soccer of course, is a kinesthetic activity that denies the participants the use of their hands. No wonder it is so frustrating. The frustration is built into it’s very structure. It occurred to me that soccer is like having a game for giraffes that denies them the use of their necks - or a game for birds that sends them to the sidelines if they use their wings. You begin to understand why soccer hooligans get drunk and knock each other in the head.

And this train of thought leads me to a parallel phenomena in the spiritual world. Another aspect of humanity that separates us from other creatures is our cerebrum. The human cerebrum is larger and more complex than the cerebrum of any other animal relative to body mass, allowing us to analyze, question, troubleshoot, develop insights, use feedback to correct behavior, and countless other cognitive processes denied other creatures. We use these powers in our family life, in our work life, in almost all aspects of our life. Imagine how long you would last in a job without using these powers. But there is one aspect of our life where we aren’t supposed to use our cognitive powers. If you are a follower of one of the great religions of Abraham; Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, you are supposed to accept many things that are outside the bounds of rational thought as a matter of Faith. The consequences are pointed if you are so bold as to question church dogma in the public domain. The rules of these religions, like soccer’s prohibition on using hands, seem to ask us to cripple a vital part of our humanity as a condition of participation. I begin to get insight into why fundamentalist religion brings out the impulses of a soccer hooligan in me.

As I mentioned, I was blessed by being able to live in Europe for several years. During the course of that grand adventure, I went by myself on a two week trip to England. While on that journey I found myself on a train going from London to Cambridge. As I watched the landscape go by, reveling in all of the new experiences I was having, I heard a loud voice coming from a seat behind me. It was unmistakably an American accent, and I soon became a bit embarrassed for the woman speaking as I listened to her tell the most intimate details of her life to someone she obviously had just met. I had learned that the English as a rule are a bit reserved, and this ladies loud voice and personal ramblings had the disapproving attention of everyone around her. Why did she have to be an American I thought?

Eventually I tuned her out and returned to my reverie looking out the train window. This reverie was broken as a voice asked if the seat next to me was taken. I looked up to see the American lady sitting down before I could respond. She immediately began to ask me fairly personal questions, each question merely a starting point for her to tell me uncomfortable details about herself. She was traveling around Europe on her own, her expenses paid by a modest inheritance, as she put it, an inheritance that had allowed her to forgo work for many years and travel the world. I should note that I was not particularly forthcoming with the lady, a bit evasive, as I was obviously wary of her. Frankly, their was something a little batty in her manner. Those of you who have traveled in distant lands by yourself know that your emotional equilibrium is a little off when you are far away from loved ones and this encounter was becoming ever more unsettling as she prattled on.

Suddenly she pulled a penny from her purse. “Take it”, she insisted. When I hesitated she insisted more firmly that I take it. I really didn’t want to play along, I wanted more than anything to return to observing the English countryside.

But of course I didn’t want to be discourteous, didn’t want a conflict with this stranger, so I took the penny. “Read it”, she said.

“Read what?” “The penny”, she said.

And I looked at the penny in puzzlement. I had never considered a penny as reading material.

“Look right there” she said and pointed. “It says “In God We Trust”. You should you know.”

This was her cue to tell me in excruciating detail about how Jesus had transformed her life. As I said, I wasn’t particularly forthcoming, I wasn’t mean or uncivil, I was as polite as could be. I just didn’t care to be fully engaged in this irritating lady’s soliloquy. This soon became a problem. She made a sudden, jarring shift from telling me how Jesus had transformed her life, to telling me what an ass I was because I was emotionally withdrawn. Emotionally withdrawn? This morphed into a harangue on why people like me were the cause of all of the world’s problems, and that she had left America just to be rid of people like me. This browbeating continued for some time. It was surreal.

She suddenly got up, insulted me in a loud voice, and moved to another seat. I was in a state of shock. What in the world just happened I asked myself? One minute I was lost in a blissful reverie, the next I was being blamed for the world’s troubles.

I have an imbecilic compulsion to never leave conflict unresolved. In my rattled state I deduced I could reason with her and fix whatever conflict had just occurred. I got up to talk to her to resolve our differences. As soon as I stood beside her, before I said a word, she started screaming for the conductor. Every head in the train car turned to us. I pleaded for a moment for her to calm down which only inspired her to scream louder for a railroad official. I beat a hasty retreat back to my seat and feverishly waited to be taken off the train in handcuffs as the criminal harasser of innocent women.

Some time later when my pulse rate receded to the point that I could hear something other than the blood pumping through my veins, I heard that fingernails-on-a- blackboard voice once again. She was now sitting with a woman and her small daughter. I heard her sharing the details of her inheritance, her disappointment with much of England, and then inevitably, her offer of a penny to the little girl. “Read it”, she said, as the little girl held the penny. “In God We Trust, you should you know.”

There was a pause. Then I heard the little girl’s voice. “Mummy I want another”, “Oh how cute”, the American women practically shouted. “She wants another penny.” “No”, the little girl said. “I want another seat.” For a delicious moment the woman was quiet.

Soon she was in another seat talking to a English fellow who looked to be in his early 30’s. She did her routine with him and to my surprise he was quite taken with the “In God We Trust you should you know” bit. She had finally found a kindred spirit. I could overhear them establishing that he was on his way to visit his fiancé. I wish I had a verbatim transcript of their conversation because it was so astonishing that it should be studied around the clock by psychologists in our greatest research institutions. I recall the American lady quickly finding fault with the man’s fiancé, a women she had never met. I recall him responding as if she had deep insight into the nature of his relationship with his fiancé. I recall almost falling out of my seat when, just before our journey’s end, the man, speaking to a women he had just met, agreed with her assessment that it was best that he break off his engagement with the women he so obviously was not meant to share his life with. As he left, the train he thanked her profusely for her advice and promised to end the engagement that very day.

I share this story with you for the following reason. As I understand it, a central thesis of the great religions of Abraham is that the embrace of Abraham’s God propels one to a state of grace. This, by its very nature, should make you a better person.

The lady I crossed paths with on that train had embraced God, completing her spiritual journey. Yet she was a disaster as a human being. She insulted and frightened me, exasperated and offended many others on the train, and, in an almost supernatural example of a toxic personality, sabotaged a complete stranger’s marriage before it even got started.

It was a remarkable and disturbing performance. She had achieved spirituality’s Holy Grail on one level, yet she was one of the most miserable, pernicious human beings I have ever encountered.

What was I to make of this disturbing interlude? We make of things what we will. In my mind, it reinforced my inclination to believe that religious people are batty.

For you see, I have long used reason to build my world view, and religious folks are indifferent to reason in their embrace of unverifiable Faith, a thing that is outside of the bounds of rational regard.
     
----

I think it is safe to suggest that many people look at spiritual life as a journey rather than a destination. For the past many years I would describe my journey as that of a religious skeptic. More a skeptic of the certainties of orthodox religious belief, rather than a skeptic of spirituality. Let’s say that I have long been skeptical of religious thought that embraces things that are impossible to prove.

Have you noticed that religious skeptics spend an inordinate amount of time studying religion and spirituality? I am no different. Over the years I have read extensively on all of the major and many of the smaller religions, examining their strengths, and taking note of their weaknesses. I have been particularly drawn to Buddhism and Pantheism, two spiritual philosophies whose appeal is partially attributable to their comfort with reasoned thought, and their unwillingness to confidently explain the inexplicable. Their nature and insights offered a philosophical grounding absent cognitive leaps of fancy.

This, then, was a prominent byway on my journey of the spirit. A fascination with philosophies that dispense with attributes that cannot be explained by reason and common sense. This gave my spiritual journey a set of coordinates following a fairly predictable byway - in the footsteps of the many skeptics who came before me.

---

Not long ago a dear friend gently raised an issue that unexpectedly gave my path a new set of coordinates to consider. She asked a question that I had somehow missed, an innocent question that that I had no ready answer for.

She had listened to me deliver a sermon on uncertainty, a sermon in which I pointed out the almost laughable limitations of our senses, the reality that most of the energy and matter in the universe is invisible to our sensory organs, that indeed most of life itself, 80% of the earth’s living biomass, is invisible to the human eye.

I further pointed out all the many ways the human brain can misinterpret information, the ways it actively creates fake perceptual information due to the structure of the eye, how emotional and biochemical states can color how the brain processes and draws conclusions from the raw materials of cognition.

I felt pretty good about myself afterwards, having effectively shown the illusory nature of existence.

“Why”, my friend asked afterwards, “are you so certain that reason disproves Faith, when you just proved that reason can’t be trusted?”

I cocked my head, thought for a moment, started to speak, stopped, started to speak again, and stopped again. The following thought popped into my head: “I’ve been hoisted on my own petard”.

I felt feverish.

I stubbornly tried to work out a rationale to explain away her simple question. I came up empty. I am proud of my cognitive abilities, of my ability to absorb information, my commitment to being intellectually honest with myself. I felt like I had covered all of the bases. How in the world had I missed something so obvious? 


In the sermon I pointed out that science doesn’t provide absolute answers to questions, but rather answers with the fewest assumptions given the data available. All true. But now I was forced to consider the accuracy of my data, the nature of my data analysis machinery, and the nature of problems that were not quantifiable. 

I suddenly was faced with the possibility that I was guilty of an extreme miscalculation. This realization led me to reconsider many of my certainties regarding human cognition, eventually leading me to my pointed judgments of the multitudes of passionately religious folks I have crossed paths with, including the woman on the train. These folks were indeed disregarding reason, but I was forced to consider that the reasoned Logic I had Faith in was flawed itself. I experienced an “everything you know is wrong“ moment.

In retrospect, I realized that I had run into a deeply troubled person on the train, not a person damaged by religion. I had simply applied a script that appealed to something arrogant inside of me. I had merely confirmed a pre-conceived notion, that religion isn’t logical, thus is foolish, that it is filled with hypocrisy, and is not able to stand up to reason. Given my knowledge that human perception and cognition is itself compromised by its very nature, I was confronted with dissonant beliefs coexisting in the apparatus I smugly use to identify and dismiss dissonant belief.

My experience with the lady on the train had no more supported the thesis that religion was nonsense than an interlude with a tall man reading a horoscope would prove that all tall men are superstitious. I had applied a logical fallacy to a logical exercise. In my zeal to be logical, I was instead ironic.

---

Coincidently, I had another epiphany recently when I simultaneously ran across two remarkable ideas that I had been exposed to some years ago, but had made no connection between them. They further tested my confidence in intellect alone.

First, I was reminded of the theory of the triune brain.

At the risk of over simplification, humankind’s brain evolved in three phases, having three distinct sets of structures, giving us three aspects of self that can be at cross purposes. The first, the brainstem, sometimes called the reptilian brain, is closely related to the actual physical survival and maintenance of the body. It controls basic bodily functions and things like aggression, dominance, and territoriality. The fight or flight mechanism is imbedded in the reptilian brain.

Next came the limbic system, or mammalian brain, which evolved to nurture and manage things like emotions, bonding, desire, loyalty, disdain, love, hate, compassion. This part of the brain is wordless, lives in the moment, and absent the ability to escape the moment, is truthful to a fault.

The final part of the triune brain to evolve was the cerebral cortex, the cerebrum. This is where higher order thought takes place, where logic, planning, and the organization and analysis of sensory information occurs. It is the computer in our brain that conceptualizes the narrative that we view as our life. It is where the user interface we know as consciousness operates.

Each human is three creatures then, the animal that is driven to survive at all costs, the animal that is driven by emotion, and the animal that is driven to gather, process, and organize information to create “us”.

Soon after revisiting the Triune Brain I ran across a piece by the philosopher Neitzche in which he suggested that human life is an exercise in building cognitive facades around the emotions and desires that drive us. Interpreted through the lens of the Triune brain, Neitzche is saying that the first two evolutionary brains guide our behavior, and the computational brain builds a script, after the fact, to explain our behavior in a way that flatters us. This parallels the thesis of Michael Shermer’s new book “How We Believe”, in which he presents research that suggests that beliefs almost always come first, rationales to support beliefs comes later. 

This suggests that our use of reason, of our unique cognitive powers, is often used, not to deduce truth, but to provide an ex post facto rationale for emotional and survival driven behavior - rationales that allow us to look in the mirror and like what we see. Behavior driven by emotions and survival instincts buried in the lower brain structures is not always pretty. Our big cerebrum is expert, after the fact, at making it all look reasonable. It creates “reason” out of the survival and emotional components of our moment-to-moment existence.

The combination of these two sets of ideas served to rock my world once more. It has caused me to reflect on how much of my life, the lives of everyone I know, involves falling back on scripts we are comfortable with to satisfy an inner need to explain our lives in ways that comforts and flatters us. The cerebrum, it appears, often functions merely to provide a satisfying narrative for self-serving impulses.

A script used by far too many of us is to tell ourselves that we have figured a bunch of things out a lot better than everyone else. It is epidemic, a source of conflict and consternation for humanity, seemingly built into man’s nature. We appear to be programmed to be certain that our opinions are not opinions, but rather conclusions that are vastly superior to our brethren’s.

In moments of reflection I began to consider scripts that I used to explain disparate interludes in my life. I have given much serious thought to the script that people who believe in things that can’t be explained by reason, things like religious faith, are misguided, mistaken, and a little whacky. The woman on the train in England is a classic example of the operation of my script. Once she revealed her religious peccadilloes, I had a well thumbed script to explain her back story in a way that flattered me and diminished her. 

I must be honest. Here is another inescapable observation I’ve had countless times over the years, even accounting for the troubled lady on the train. Lots of people believe in silly things and do silly, even destructive things in the name of their religion. But many people I know who live admirable spiritual lives, people who believe in a compassionate and loving God, are often dramatically more at peace, more content, than those of us who are skeptical of Faith. The logic of Faith is easy for people like me to dismiss. The peace I see in their eyes, in their spirit, is not so easy to dismiss.

Faith itself is so personal, yet so universal, so beyond words and explanation, that, as I explore around it’s periphery, I begin to realize that I have been focusing on the wrong things, using my old friends logic and reason to pick apart things that are not the point anyway. While I have focused on what I saw as religion’s hypocrisy, what I have really found fault with is my human brethren’s foolishness, hubris, misplaced certainties - not with the essence of Faith.

In the wake of my friend’s gentle observation, the concept of Faith is shedding the detritus that has been attached to it by some of it’s most hypocritical and bombastic advocates. The obscuring human silliness I have long focused on suddenly seems somehow disconnected from Faith.

Whether by design, or chance, or by fulfilling a new script I have begun to consider, I recently ran across a book called “What is God?” by Jacob Needleman. Needleman was raised in a culturally Jewish household, but became an atheist at a young age, rejecting the supernatural mythos of the God of Abraham. 

Needleman was fascinated by mankind’s obsession with God and religion and, in spite of his skepticism, became a religious scholar, focusing on Eastern religion at a time when it was just becoming a focus of interest for Westerner’s. Because of his early interest in Eastern religions he became an authority, the author of many books on the topic, and a sought after speaker on the then mysterious religions of the East.

The book “What is God” hinges on a vivid memory Needleman recalled from his childhood. The memory sparked a rethinking of his views as he approached 80, a rethinking rooted in a lifetime of experience and study. In the first chapter of the book he recounts an evening long ago when he joined his father on the porch of their home. A family member had passed away and his father was silent, lost in thought. Needleman, who was a small child, sat by his father on the porch steps, no words were spoken, and he looked up at the stars. At that moment he felt a connection, a sense that he was part of something bigger than himself, that their was a purpose to life in spite of the suffering his family was experiencing. It was all utterly non-verbal, he had no sense of any rational details of what he was experiencing, it was just a feeling, a sense of clarity, warmth, and well-being. He felt something ineffable was associated with the stars, something disconnected from human cognition.

As Needleman got older his journey took him to atheism, and the childhood experience was forgotten. It was only as an old man that the experience came back to him, and, in a way, the crux of his life’s quest had always been there, taking a lifetime of experience for him to grasp the lesson that affairs of the spirit rely on inner experience rather than words and ideas.

When I read these passages I suddenly recalled moments from my own childhood, moments I had long since forgotten, playing in the lots around my home late into summer evenings, when I had similar experiences. We would be playing some game in the dark and I would find myself momentarily alone, and I would look at the stars and get an indescribable feeling. Like Needleman’s experience, I would feel a sense of being a part of something bigger than myself, that myself and the stars were interconnected. It was curious, something of an out of body experience. A sensation would rise inside of me, a tingling feeling, similar to an emotion, but disconnected from the binary judgments associated with emotion. I would get slightly disoriented, almost dizzy, and then whatever game we were playing would suddenly continue and the moment would pass.

I remember thinking to myself how odd the experience was when it was happening. I had no explanation for it. When you are a child you haven’t accumulated a lifetime of cognitive scripts to quickly explain away the mysterious, the wondrous. Children aren’t beholding to the constraints of cognitive propriety. There is a lesson here.

I hadn’t thought of these experiences in decades until I read Needleman’s book. It wasn’t long after these childhood experiences that I saw one of the pillars of the local church drunk and hanging onto a woman who wasn’t his wife and my decade’s long journey into religious skepticism began in earnest. In retrospect, perhaps I let the human compulsion to look unfavorably on hypocrisy to color my world view in a way that kept me from embracing something important. This focus on hypocrisy, and on the misguided certainties of so many religions and their leaders did not serve me well.

While working at the University of Chicago this past summer, soon after reading Needleman’s book and recalling my childhood experiences, I visited the famous Oriental Institute on campus. One exhibit showed the evolution of hieroglyphics, from their crude beginnings to later, more complex forms. For some reason I began at the end of the exhibit and worked my way to the beginning. I was intrigued that there was a complex drawing for God in the later examples. As I worked my way to the earliest drawings I felt a jolt when I saw the earliest, most ancient hieroglyphic for God. It looked like our modern asterisk. It was a drawing of a star.

As it happens, I am the only person I know who, for years, has had a framed drawing of an asterisk hanging on my dining room wall. Imagine the odds. It is signed by the artist, the author Kurt Vonnegut, and is a drawing from his book “Breakfast of Champions”. Vonnegut was a famous religious skeptic, and to him it represented something other than a star, something irreverent, but it is identical to the hieroglyphic drawing of God. I fear for the irony meter.

I don’t want to make too much of this star connection, but it is a remarkable set of coincidences that I once would have quickly explained away with what passes for reason. I don’t feel the haste to do so at this point in my life.

As I reconsider my previous reason based judgments regarding faith, I begin to see it not as crippling the brain’s cognitive powers of reason, but rather as an acknowledgment that we have capabilities that transcend the limitations of cognition and reason. Some things just can’t be explained, they are felt. Faith seems to me to be a wordless feeling in the center of one’s being that there is a meaning and a purpose to life, that there is a universal consciousness, that you are a part of it, that some force in the universe knows you exist and somehow cares - that you are never alone, that goodness matters. Those of us that have considered it otherwise have used the pitiful cognitive apparatus of man to convince ourselves that life has no greater purpose, not grasping that it is not a matter of cognition. It is rather a conundrum of submission, submission to an acknowledgment of our limitations, submission to the ineffable feeling inside of us that we are not alone. Faith is that innate feeling that there must be something more, that there is indeed something more. It doesn’t make sense to the cerebrum, it can’t be quantified, but it just feels right, it meets the approval of some inexplicable, inscrutable part of ourselves.
    
The word God has all kinds of connotations that unsettle me. But I am beginning to see that, just because fallible people have attached unsettling connotations to that word, it does not mean that the concept is false or untrue or should be rejected. The word is not the concept, the word is simply an easily gamed metaphor for the grandest concept of all. The word is the province of the cerebrum, the concept of God itself is rooted in the ancient parts of our brain, in our soul.

As the 17th century French mathematician Pascal put it, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person” Pascal, it should be noted, wrote extensively in defense of the Scientific Method, and created a computational device that was, in effect, the first computer, a device that is logic itself. This man was not a stranger to reason, but he drew his deepest convictions from a part of himself beyond reason.
    
I am beginning to consider that I have a God sized vacuum in my heart, and that the concealing foolishness of many zealous advocates over the eons should not be a barrier to embracing one of the most important things in creation. We all differ in fidelity to details, but we are brothers and sisters in spirit when it comes to the concept of God.
    
I can’t explain it, thus I can’t quantify it, but I hear a whisper of something beyond me, and the whisper suggests that there is a meaning to this life, and that, in spite of the suffering inherent to existence, somehow things will work out relative to our place in the cosmos. I realize that, given our feeble human faculties, that I almost certainly will never hear the full message of that whisper. But I do know this: I can see, and feel, and hope, and love. I am one of the few creatures in the universe that can observe and record and try to make sense of creation. It is beyond conjecture that I have been somehow blessed with the most implausible gift, of all, not just the miracle of life, but a remarkable awareness of the miracle of life.

You could say that I, the fellow who has wandered in the desert of skepticism for forty years, am having a crisis of doubt.

The lady on the train may have been shrill, she may have been confounding, frankly, she may have been nuts, but perhaps she had a point. I must consider that the humble penny might have some wisdom embossed on it’s surface after all.

It could you know.





•Postscript 

It occurred to me not long ago that my sons, with whom I have shared my viewpoints on religion over the years, might have missed the nuances of my spiritual journey. I have had phases of active rejection of the concept of God, and often pointed out to them the inconsistencies and hypocrisy of much religious thought. I was aware of their skepticism regarding matters of religious orthodoxy, so In the wake of my crisis of doubt I became concerned that I might have influenced them to reject approaches to the spirit that might be helpful to them. Could I have inadvertently created nihilists?

To my surprise, when I approached them, they both responded to the contrary, that they felt that there seemed to be universals at work in the cosmos. My youngest son noted with a smile on his face that “only an idiot would be certain their was no God”. He was talking about the perils of absolute certainty more than a proof of God, but I was relieved and proud that they both had taken some fairly perilous raw materials from their dad and turned them into something hopeful.

Letting go of reason as the final word in understanding life is not an excuse for cognitive anarchy. There are physical laws to the universe that seem to be unwavering and should not be disregarded. But these laws are inextricably connected to the human user interface of consciousness, a device to make sense of the incomprehensible amount of perceptual information in the universe. As a result we see more shadows than light and those shadows can be interpreted according to the preconceptions of the individual. This individual has decided to turn the shadows into compassion instead of selfishness, forgiveness instead of judgment, into hope rather than hopelessness, into meaning instead of nothingness. 

I shared the reading on consciousness that began this service with my youngest. We discussed the idea that human consciousness is a user interface that allows us to experience life without foundering in perceptual information. This, of course, suggests limitations to reason and  cognition that must be acknowledged, as I hope I illustrated in the sermon. Human consciousness as a user interface is a big concept to process and I wondered if he fully got it. Very quickly I learned that he got it better than me. “the idea of consciousness as a user interface”, he said, “might be a hint that all human consciousness combined is a manifestation of God.”

Humans as the eyes and ears of God. I like that very much. This is a path with heart.








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