Saturday, August 30, 2008

On the nature of our existence

Where do you live? I mean where do you exist? The natural world, right? When we refer to the most fundamental of fundamentals, we inevitably hark back to the "Nature" of things. In one of my other blogs I have pointed out how the word supernatural is a word that has, as it's root, the word nature, super having been added as a prefix to it. Whenever someone makes a comment about another person's behaviour, they always say it's their nature to do such a thing, or it's in their nature. Isn't it interesting that no one ever refers to the supernature of our existence? I mean, think about it, the few times you've heard the phrase " It's our nature, it's human nature, etc..." you never hear anyone say " well, it's our supernature" or " it's just supernature..." Doesn't it seem a bit silly to say such a thing? It certainly sounds silly to my "ear". So, let's try something, if we can. Imagine yourself without a body, better yet imagine no one with a body, even better still, imagine nothing (trees, sharks, bacteria, etc...) with a body. Imagine bodies never having come into existence at all. All we are is floating, noncorporeal thought-producing (in some cases) non-entities. Now, having no physicality, but still being, we are, at this point, the manifestation of the word "spirit" as most of us define it. I realize manifestation may not be the most accurate word to use, but you get my point. How else could we describe ourselves, but being spirits, essentially spiritual, if we were extant but non-corporeal?

In this state it would be difficult to find something to point to as being our generative source, for 1. how does one bring into existence something that is non-existent in every observable way and 2. since in such a state of reality, for all beings there really couldn't be the idea of "someTHING" to even take into account, things being physical, not aphysical. Furthermore, I think it would be hard to even have a way of finding such a generation point (or process) if there were one to find at all, which I don't think there would be. In such a state, the scientific method, which is what we use to describe the physicality of our surroundings now, would be a near impossibility, for there would be no physicality to describe. And remember it's not just us that have no bodies, but everything we know: trees, dogs, corals, everything is without a body. Again in such a state, a method of discovery like the scientific method just wouldn't be possible. There would have to be some other way of learning of ourselves. Perhaps some sort of extrasensory perception or something like it. This state of supernaturality, of being above, out of the realm of, nature, is what everyone is denying when they say " It's human nature". For sure, such statements are speaking exactly to what each of us truly understands over all else, namely the physical of us all, the nature, of us.

I don't know of anyone who thinks that we exist only as non-corporeal beings such as I described above, the operative word being ONLY. We all live as corporeal beings, replete with bodies, subject to the physical, natural forces of the universe. So again, where the rubber meets the road, we all agree that the natural is the medium in which we observe our states of being. That is because we actually do have bodies. We can see them, touch them, sometimes smell them (even if we'd rather not at times :-) ). We don't exclusively live in the misty, free-floating world of ghosts. Because of this we indeed have our method of decription of our physically-existing world, and consequently us; the scientific method. The method is what is valuable. The method is what provides answers and yes, even questions. The answers given sometimes may not be stable enough to survive for very long before being overturned by new information garnered by the same scientific method that gave us the initial "answer", but the method itself is what provides continuously updated information, with which outdated and incomplete understandings are rightfully discarded. The method of discovery, which is based wholly within the natural world is faultless, although it may sometimes give incomplete information. Really though, that is not the fault of the method, but the fault of the interpreters of the method's gathered information. If a conclusion is overturned by new information, it is not because the scientific method was wrong and should be discarded, it is because the scientists were to hasty in halting the information gathering process. They should've kept going with their experiments, but as the saying goes, hindsight is always 20-20.

So, what about all that stuff that the scientific method has nothing say about? ESP, picking up vibes, premonition, our souls, etc... Well, who says the scientific method has nothing to say about them? Infact, the scientific method has a veritable plethora of opinions about these phenomenon, it's just that those who "believe" in things of this sort may not necessarily like what the method says about them. To date there have been no substantial, credible, experiments demonstrating the existence of these abilities/phenomenon outside of the physical, natural world of our brains. What that translates to is, all of these things can be explained as being things that SEEM to be extrasensory, but in reality are only SEEMINGLY so. They may look and feel like they are outside the realm of nature, but that doesn't mean they are, it means that those who feel them to be as such are simply mistaken, no matter how true their opinions may resound to them. The whole world used to truly believe many things that seemed to be the case, but were found out to be not so, after more information gathering was done. The earth is not flat, there are no four corners of the globe as the bible says. Disease is caused by microbes not by demonic infestation. Again, more information was gathered and thus the faulty opinions were overturned. It was not the method that provided the opinion; no that was arrived at by the impatient scientists. The method was only the messenger, and you know what they say about hating the messenger. This leads me to think that those "unexplained" phenomenon that many are utterly convinced are proof of realms other than the natural, are actually premature, not fully-informed ideas, based on less than complete information. How, indeed can we claim to know what some of us claim to know about these phenomenon, when we don't even have a unified theory for explaining the universe yet? I think with more time, science will have good explanations for even these seemingly non-scientific abstractions. Actually science is beginning to formulate such hypotheses at this moment in the field of cognitive neuroscience. We know our brain is composed of the same elements the rest of the universe is, and with that knowledge, neuroscience is starting to be able to thoroughly map the brain's areas of activity. We can say with some degree of certainty that the amygdala is the area of the brain where anxiety and fear trace their origins. The hippocampus is involved with memory. We know where the sensory-motor cortex is. All of these structures are ensconced within mother nature. Although they may seem to be non-physical, because most of us cannot point o our amygdalas, not unlike our inability to be able to point to an air molecule, they are infact not non-physical. Our idea of them is wholly non-physical, but the structures themselves are completely physical. We are born with them. They grow because we eat food and drink water, physical processes both. We live our lives and they continue to grow, all the while operating so complexly that we are easily lured into thinking we are more than what we are made of. We die, and these die with us, rotting along with the rest of our bodies. Our thoughts cease to exist when our bodies cease to exist. The thoughts we generate during our lifetime are generated by the physicality of our brains, so when our brains die, so do our thoughts.

We exist in the natural world, as we all acknowledge, and rightfully so. There is no reason to invoke a supernatural realm at all. Any such course of action is one taken from a place of incomplete knowledge. Now, I know what many people will say at this point, " science doesn't know everything, there are so many things unexplained by science, etc..." which is is some ways true, but is not at all what these people are really wanting to say. They are really saying that SCIENTISTS, don't know everything, that Science is just another type of belief, that no one can see an atom, but we believe in them anyway. These types of statements betray just how little those who speak such inanities really know about what it is they are saying. Firstly, the outline of atoms has been directly observable since 1981. People have seen them, we don't need to simply believe they are there to know they are there. Secondly, for those who would say I personally have never seen an atom's outline, so I am guilty of utter belief in what the scientists say is the case, I will point out, that unlike the fervent religious folks who cannot substantiate their utter belief with any possible physical reconciliation of those beliefs, all I have to do is ask to see the outline of an atom, and it is there for me to see, provided I have the appropriate amount of economic freedom and intellectual clout. The evidence is available to see an atom, sorry to disappoint the fundies out there. And Finally, as I said before, scientists are the interpretors of the information gathered by the scientific method, which is why I say, the real indictment being made is not, nor could be against the scientific method, but against the scientists themselves for having the "gaul" to simply go against the flow of the commonly accepted practice of incuriosity for the sake of laziness. Non-scientists have little to no appreciation for what scientists are discovering everyday, instead we all happily lap up the benefits provided by scientific discovery, while simultaneously ridiculing those who practice it. It is unecessary to point out the irony of this situation, but I've done it anyway.