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Old 08-08-2013, 04:30 PM   #106
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, but in arguing against the existence of an independent consciousness, this shows that it is an illusion linked to physical states in the brain. Dennett describes the idea of the 'self' as more of an abstraction (I think he likens it to a centre of gravity at some point; it's something apparent and something we can talk about, but not something that is physically made up of anything.
That would seem to lend weight to the idea that it is more of a spiritual phenomenon? Or something not reliant upon a physical "container"? Yes?

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It doesn't exist in any real sense). So when we talk about downloading a consciousness, there isn't anything there to download. You're downloading a physical state of matter, but the you having the apparent experience of self is not going to suddenly find himself occupying some other synthetic body.
It think I'm in basic agreement with this - if only to prevent the paradox of multiple versions of me walking around with a sense of self. Perhaps this is where Quantum Physics kicks in - that our consciousness has endless probabilities within space/time, but can only have one instance at a time.

But let's say our mind is clearly attached to our one brain - how much can we augment that brain before we stop considering it a human brain?
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Old 08-08-2013, 06:12 PM   #107
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That would seem to lend weight to the idea that it is more of a spiritual phenomenon? Or something not reliant upon a physical "container"? Yes?
No, because it's all perfectly describable using purely physical phenomena. There's no need to evoke anything spiritual.

Consider my wild college days. There were a few occasions (keg parties, birthday parties, homecoming weekend, after finishing the last exam, pub crawl night, thursday) where I drank way too much and got what you might call 'black out drunk'. For all intents and purposes, my consciousness didn't exist. There would be nights when the entire last large portion of the night were completely missing. Would it make more sense that my 'spiritual consciousness' decided it didn't like booze and disappeared into the ether for the evening or that the physical areas of my brain that gave rise to the experience of consciousness had been inhibited? The answer to that is clearly evident.
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Old 08-08-2013, 06:21 PM   #108
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As I stated earlier - I think science is a great tool for everything in the universe that can be observed, tested, and verified. However, as we see in Quantum Physics - there is much of the universe that can't be observed, tested, and verified - and may never do so. This is where Philosophy and Theology (and art perhaps) enter the picture - and rightfully so. We've evolved or were created (or perhaps a bit of both) to not let "I guess we'll never know" be the final answer. So we keep tackling the Big Questions.
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Perhaps this is where Quantum Physics kicks in - that our consciousness has endless probabilities within space/time, but can only have one instance at a time.

I don't mean to be a dick, but there seems to be a great deal of hiding god in quantum spookiness going on. If quantum physics somehow affects the way our brains work, it isn't in the sense that our consciousness is contained within the quantum interactions. Nothing about quantum particles suggests that they might give rise to consciousness. Everything you look at has those exact same processes going on within it. If you want to attribute consciousness to quantum physics, then you'll have to concede that every single object in existence contains a consciousness. There is nothing special about the interactions going on at the quantum level in our brains. Placing god in quantum physics is no more truthful than placing him in the centre of the planet
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Old 08-08-2013, 06:30 PM   #109
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It think I'm in basic agreement with this - if only to prevent the paradox of multiple versions of me walking around with a sense of self.
But this is exactly what would happen. There's nothing paradoxical about it. All the experiences and memories and emotions you feel are because of the physical state of your brain; the interactions between neurons, the various distributions of neurotransmitters, electrical activity. To copy that state exactly as it is and create another brain out of it will give you another version of all those experiences.
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Old 08-08-2013, 07:02 PM   #110
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i haven't paid close attention to this thread, but i came across this long article and thought it relevant at least to the original title of the thread (science and religion), and apologies if it's already been posted:






and here's an NYT column that engages the (much longer) article:

Thanks for posting these, Irvine. I had started reading the Pinker article in line at the dmv yesterday, but didn't get a chance to finish until now.

The most important point made in those two articles is as follows:

"In which ways, then, does science illuminate human affairs? Let me start with the most ambitious: the deepest questions about who we are, where we came from, and how we define the meaning and purpose of our lives. This is the traditional territory of religion, and its defenders tend to be the most excitable critics of scientism."

So true and so very telling. Cries of scientism (man, I hate that word) boil down to "Your facts don't support my beliefs! I don't like it!"
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Old 08-08-2013, 07:20 PM   #111
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So true and so very telling. Cries of scientism (man, I hate that word) boil down to "Your facts don't support my beliefs! I don't like it!"
I think you will find less and less of that attitude in most churches these days.
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Old 08-08-2013, 07:31 PM   #112
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I think you will find less and less of that attitude in most churches these days.
I hope so. But would those people be whining about 'scientism'?
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Old 08-08-2013, 07:31 PM   #113
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But this is exactly what would happen. There's nothing paradoxical about it. All the experiences and memories and emotions you feel are because of the physical state of your brain; the interactions between neurons, the various distributions of neurotransmitters, electrical activity. To copy that state exactly as it is and create another brain out of it will give you another version of all those experiences.
I guess I feel that the paradox is that there can't be more than one version of "me" - yet, there would be. However - I'm thinking that the universe will not really "allow" this to happen. I'm going to disagree with Kurzweil that will one day be able to back up our minds (but I agree with him on most everything else). Maybe we can do this with small pieces of memory here and there - perhaps to fill in some gaps or jump start some connections after a trauma - but unless I'm mistaken, you can't record a quantum state in order to backup and restore a quantum state. As the article I posted clearly demonstrates - our mind is a constantly fluctuating quantum state.

It is much more likely that we will be able to extremely augment our brains and extend our mind through it. Also - we will be able to use nanotechnology to repair and enhance/repair/strengthen our brain tissue.

Yet, on the spiritual side (since we are allowing room for faith in the discussion) I still contend that in the end - it is the spirit/soul that is using the brain to establish two-way communication with this universe.
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Old 08-08-2013, 07:38 PM   #114
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I hope so. But would those people be whining about 'scientism'?
Well - there is still some of anti-scientism (yeah - that word sucks) folks. Also - there is an attitude of arrogance that some scientist emanate brings some of the criticism.

Just as some continue to point to the God in Gaps fallacy - so others point out that this does not necessarily lead to the conclusion there is no God.
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Old 08-08-2013, 07:47 PM   #115
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our mind is a constantly fluctuating quantum state.
Well, our brain is a constantly fluctuating quantum state, since the mind isn't really a physical thing. But why would it be surprising that our brain is a constantly fluctuating state? Everything is a constantly fluctuating quantum state. It would be unusual to discover the contrary
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Old 08-08-2013, 07:50 PM   #116
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I guess I feel that the paradox is that there can't be more than one version of "me" - yet, there would be. However - I'm thinking that the universe will not really "allow" this to happen.
But why wouldn't it allow this to happen? What if we were to map, atom for atom, the physical properties of a couch. Would the universe allow two atomically identical couches to exist?
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Old 08-08-2013, 08:00 PM   #117
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I don't mean to be a dick, but there seems to be a great deal of hiding god in quantum spookiness going on.
Sure - I'll take the blame for that. To be fair - I mention it only in that it "opens the door" to faith, not that it proves my point of view.
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Old 08-08-2013, 08:06 PM   #118
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Sure - I'll take the blame for that. To be fair - I mention that it only in that it "opens the door" to faith, not that it proves my point of view.
No need to take blame. It's not like you invented it
It just seems like such a fluffy argument to me though.

Quantum physics also opens the door to Lovecraftian Horror
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Old 08-08-2013, 08:27 PM   #119
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But why wouldn't it allow this to happen? What if we were to map, atom for atom, the physical properties of a couch. Would the universe allow two atomically identical couches to exist?
Yes - I think it would. Where I think we disagree is on where the "mind" exists -if it exists at all.

You seem to think the mind is nothing more than neurons doing their work - and part of that work is "consciousness" and "self awareness."

I am arguing that there is still no scientific consensus on what consciousness really is - and the little we do know - is that the quantum tunneling is needed for Calcium ions to cross the barrier to the synaptic vesicle at a probability rate of 10,000,00:1, for each trigger - yet this must and does happen on demand (this is from the article I posted earlier). And in order for this to happen on demand - something or someone beyond the material realm of the brain must be controlling the quantum events. It seems impossible - yet it happens every nanosecond. This is just as complex a Mystery as Dark Matter or Dark Energy - and I hope you would agree there is still very little known about those two phenomenon - yet they seem to make up the largest percentage of our universe.

It does seem that quantum mechanics rejects the classical materialist construct of reality. And because of this - it also must reject the classical materialist understanding of the brain. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that our consciousness and brain are separate from each other, yet somehow connected by quantum entanglement.
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Old 08-08-2013, 08:28 PM   #120
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Quantum physics also opens the door to Lovecraftian Horror
My brother-in-law is a HUGE fan of his. He's a bit too odd and creepy for my taste.
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