Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mind makes matter?

Ever since I returned to religion after trying out atheism, I have been working at reconciling the two. Both atheism and religion ask the big questions of life but they arrive at opposing answers to the questions: Where do we and all the stuff we see come from? Where does thinking come from?

Atheists who are also scientific materialists say our brains create our thoughts. After mulling this over for years, I take the opposite view—I think, therefore my brain forms the way it does. My thoughts form my brain. Scientific experiments bear this out.

And I feel, therefore my surroundings seem as they seem. They suit my feelings and attitudes.Our language reflects this truth. We speak of sunny or cloudy days and dispositions. The metaphor shows the connection between outer and inner. The late Wayne Dyer expanded on this truth:
Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world. 
As I understand scientific materialism, it denies the existence of any inner reality. It does not deny that we have thoughts, which are non-physical, but explains them as products of our brains or physical stuff. They believe outer reality creates inner reality. I invite my atheist friends to let me know if I misrepresent their position. And let me know how you disagree with the following, as I expect you will.

My feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes make up my consciousness or mind. It creates my life. I’ll say it another way: consciousness creates reality. This is the revolutionary idea I now accept and use in my daily life. I wrote about it HERE where you can see the materialist or physicalist position plus readers debating it and mine.  

When in conversations I bring up my belief in the power of our thoughts, it is surprisingly not dismissed as flaky. Many people accept it or at least don’t scoff at it. If it is true, if we have the power to mold reality with our thoughts, we collectively could heal the ills in our world.

In 1988 Willis Harman wrote a book that made a huge impression on me at the time and has stayed with me since. Cleaning out old files, I found an article I’d clipped about him giving a talk at Carleton College for a symposium on integrating human sciences. Harman was president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which focuses on reconciling objective knowledge, the kind studied by natural sciences, with subjective knowledge or inner wisdom and understanding.

The article mentions his book, Global Mind Change: The Promise of the Last Years of the Twentieth Century. Happily I found the book on my shelf with a bookmark on the page that resolved the question for me.
Harman lists 3 metaphysical perspectives:
M-1 Materialistic Monism
(Matter giving rise to mind)
M-2 Dualism
            (Matter plus mind)
M-3 Transcendental Monism
            (Mind giving rise to matter)
He said we are shifting from M-1 to M-3 in a global mind change. I see evidence of the shift every day—in myself as well as in events and beliefs expressed in the media. The implications are tremendous. 
Harman warns,
that our world is not sustainable using our present systems. . . . [fundamental changes] can come through vast numbers of people changing their minds. By deliberately changing their belief systems people can change the world.
Whether or not the change is deliberate, it is happening.
While editorials were howling for decisive engagement in the Syrian crisis, the Obama administration refused to send American troops into the war against ISIS and against Assad because Americans are averse to sending more troops into Mideast battles. Public opinion was shaping policy. Thoughts, attitudes, feelings, etc. were creating reality. We’ll have to see how the deepening crisis changes public opinion and how the administration responds.

The same process drives the policy of governments dealing with refugees flooding Europe. Angela Merkel could be very generous because Germans were still making up for Nazi atrocities, but as their compassion wears thin because of economic hardship, Merkel’s popularity suffers. Policy follows public perception. Consciousness changes outer reality, changing the global mind.

I hope more Americans press for greater American involvement in aiding refugees. But for that to happen, enough of us would have to press our government to change our policy. If we accept that our minds give rise to physical realities, we can help to reform the collective consciousness and thus bring about a reformed world.

I believe with Harman that we can collectively produce sustainable systems for our planet by deliberately reforming our consciousness. 

Hours after posting this, I read an excellent opinion piece by Pia Lopez in the St. Cloud Times, "U.S. Must Take in More Syrian Refugees." She gives figures that should make us ashamed. These are the numbers of refugees taken in by the countries listed:
U.S.               2,000
Jordan        619,000
Turkey       2 million
Lebanon     1.2 million
These are tiny countries compared with ours.  Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar says we should take in 65,000. Let's support her.


1 comment:

Chris said...

Jeanette, I sympathize with your point of view. However, you have to deal with the fact that most atheists do not favor a reductive form of naturalism. For example, the eliminative materialism of a sort endorsed by the Churchlands is certainly a minority perspective. The more common scientific materialist type seems to account for consciousness as an "emergent property" and tends towards a property dualist position.