Sunday, January 11

In search of goodness

The idea of goodness attributed to GOD as in religion is a belief which seems to make the most sense to us, as biological beings whose biology effects our current state.  Looking backwards in time my mind struggles to imagine how those first awakenings of self-consciousness were played out in humanity’s journey of discovery, in a move which makes possible altruism. But I rather think many of those first early insights will remain hidden forever in our oral history, in the stories of dance, in the lyrical chants of the ancients or in the wondrous dreamland scenes carved on rock walls up to 60,000 years ago.

This seems to me to posit that evolution and a small mixture of creation, was predetermined by GOD, rather than through randomness, as humanity entered into the more modern era.
Elkhonon Goldberg in ‘The Executive Brain’ suggests religious ideas about this time may have first emerged as we struggled to separate the thoughts we have about others are separate to those we think about. He suggests such self-memories about a deceased person may have been attributed to the current spirit of that deceased person as it became a taboo custom to speak of the dead.

Possibly the idea of goodness arose in our earliest evolutionary path where it become advantageous as in natural selection to foster care and to help others in the tribe , which gave impetus to a better chances of survival. But before that momentous crossover into self-consciousness much earlier a series of seismic events transformed our living planet to create nature’s vision splendour.
They were not random, for without the exact sequence, we would not be having this conversation to day.  The timing of those massive upheavals was necessarily precise to change our planetary environment to enable life’s previous abundant first single cell life to evolve into the multi celled life complexity we see today; as our planet temporarily appearing like Jupiter – totally wrapped in thick ice –then thawed to cause water to carve out the new landscape warmed by immense erupting volcanoes. Miraculously the planetary environment reached a state of equilibrium to give birth to the first evolved multi cell creatures some 650 million years ago which are evident today in the fossilized imprints- as if just recently left in dried mud- in the thin layers of ancient rocks in the remote areas of what is known as the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, which you may have seen in documentaries. 

These insights into our past are only made possible by the evolution of our self-consciousness which enables us to makes sense of such things; to ponder the sequential events needed for one single cell to become the trillions estimated to make up the human body. The mechanism to enable enjoyment of our enhanced understanding is in the architecture of our frontal lobes which allow us to retrieve information stored in the older ‘limbic’ areas of the brain for dynamic processing in the frontal lobes area coupled with repositories of self-awareness. Elkhonon Goldberg in ‘The Executive Brain’
Interestingly just as these frontal lobes are our most recently evolved brain area they remain by far the most vulnerable or fragile to trauma and the onslaught of dementia which exhibits those frightening losses of cognitive memory ability. It is not that memory is lost in dementia patients but rather the circuitry connections to memory are either damaged or severed, - Eklhonon Goldberg ‘The Executive Brain’.

Self-consciousness is thought to be only evident in humans and maybe in other highly developed life forms albeit such views continue to be debated and constrained by a lack of any known developed animal language.
In Bruce H Lipton’s (Ph.D.) book ‘The Biology of Belief’ In Cells as Miniature Humans he introduces to us to the idea that every cell in our body – and there are roughly 60 trillion of them – is a smart cell capable of fulfilling all of the known bodily functions we attribute to our mind and body as a whole. This intelligence is resident in the cell membrane and reacts to its physiology through controlling proteins able to override the genetically encoded DNA resident in the cell nucleus. That is to say that although the DNA which is resident in the cell nuclei does determine our pre-programmed genetic characteristics their operation can be turned off and on by the controlling proteins within the cells membrane environment. Hence the author contends our ‘belief systems’ are instrumental in the control of our biological functioning rather than by genetic determinants. Lipton explains the trend scientifically towards genetic determinism was adopted since the discovery of genes provided the final missing link to show how Darwin’s species adaption’s or changes were all transferred genetically into each new evolved generation.

An analogy to help explain the Magical Cell membrane
Lipton uses the analogy of the test pattern appearing on old TV sets. Those of us old enough to remember will recall how a test pattern appeared on our TV sets once the day’s program’s came to closures traditionally after midnight.

Think of the pattern of the test screen as the pattern encoded by a given gene, say the one for brown eyes. The dials and switches, TV fine –tune the test screen by allowing you to turn it on or off and modulate a number of characteristics , including colour, hue, contrast, brightness, vertical and horizontal holds .By adjusting the dials, you can alter the appearance of the test pattern on the screen, while not actually changing the original broadcast pattern. This is the role of the regulatory proteins.
My conclusion is I think the idea of goodness and GOD goodness is something that has been etched into humanity and continues to develop along our evolutionary journey.  

Moving into modernity, with the benefits of an evolved sense of higher consciousness, we can now discern a very wide range of beliefs and practices. But mostly such beliefs and practices are underpinned with the idea of goodness, embodied in a higher spiritual life to be continued beyond that which can be conceivably contemplated within ones earthly  existence.  But we can equally in the modern era lose the sense of a reverence for all life and fall out of  sync with the natural seasons that sustains all life.

 Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”
Albert Schweitzer



Tom said...

Regrettably, I am unable to spend the time I would like to study this post in depth. (Tomorrow, first eye surgery.) I did notice one point you made, and I do not yet know how this might reflect on the rest of your post, and that was that "the planetary environment reached a state of equilibrium to give birth to the first multi-celled creatures." Surely the date you quote, 650,000 years, is way out. Humanoids have been around for 4,000,000 years, give or take. The dinosaurs died out around 65,000,000 years ago. Is your date perhaps a typo?

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Tom
indeed a typo -as you would be aware "multi-celled" organisms/creatures, were thought to have evolved about 650 million years ago.
Many thanks for pointing this out.
Good luck with the eye surgery. Nothing too serious I trust. I have had cataracts removed and an artificial lens inserted which was marvellous !!
best wishes

susan said...

Hi Lindsay
The older I get the stronger is my conviction that the brain functions as an intermediary between mind and body, that we are nodes in consciousness itself - perhaps something like that radio analogy or the one you mentioned about the test pattern on the set not changing the broadcast. The brain is a limiting device that allows us to take care of our physical existence. Scientists have largely ignored how consciousness manifests in our existence. They’ve done this by assuming that the brain produces consciousness, although how it might do so has never been explained and can hardly be imagined.

The people who have lost the sense of reverence are those who have convinced themselves that all life, including humanity, is nothing more than a mechanical process. I like to think that we are all part of a single consciousness that is evolving.
Best wishes

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan
Given the age of specialisation I think there is a tendency not to take a holistic approach, as opposed to the expansionary ideas behind the “biology of belief “.

In that respect I agree with you that possibly the brain responds more as a receptacle for processing internal and external stimuli or phenomena, so I like your idea that maybe we are nodes in consciousness itself.
And I agree there are those people who think that the human brain is simply analogous to a computer, thereby taking a purely materialistic approach to everything.
Best wishes

♥ N o v a said...

I suppose it is easy to assume that it is the brain that produces consciousness... since when a person is "brain dead" they are presumably not conscious or aware, and all that is assumed by supposed activity measured by computers. I guess that will remain as another one of life's mysteries.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Nova
Indeed our evolved “consciousness” represents a mystery of life. But I think there is an important distinction between our brain activities (the brain) which facilitate “consciousness” and “consciousness” itself- a product of the mind. From a range of external stimuli or phenomena the brain acts as a receptacle or repository to send signals to the mind (our consciousness).
The area of mindful consciousness, where all of this activity takes place and is consolidated to gives us our consciousness, is in the more recently evolved frontal lobes. We might ask where does this “consciousness” go, or what happens to the stored memories and thoughts which have been expressed during our lifetime. But when we say someone is brain dead, it indicates the brains is no longer able to engage as a receptacle to make sense of stimuli through the operations of the mind, and only the body functions of basic ventilation and heart continuation can continue through life support equipment.
Best wishes