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Abstract

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII

Part VIII


     

Part VIII: The Two Species of Homo Sapiens

Chapter 1

The Spiritual Nature of the Physical World

     EXTRA SENSORY PERCEPTION (ESP) is considered a kind of forbidden territory by the scientific community, because it involves the operation of forces which are beyond the range of ordinary experimental procedures. Even more suspect is that subdivision of ESP, called psychokinetics (PK). The validity of the latter is rejected outright because it is argued that mind cannot possibly move matter without some intermediary agency. And yet my mind can act upon some matter merely by wanting to do so, for I can lift my arm simply by willing to do so. We do not know how mind works upon matter; how the will to lift an arm causes the arm to lift, much less how sorrow causes the tear ducts to overflow, joy to bring a sudden spring to the feet, or song to the tongue. But these things happen.
     There is an interaction between spirit and body in almost every waking moment, and even when we sleep -- for we may cry out in our sleep as we cry out when awake. But the mode of this interaction seems as far from being explained as it ever was. Descartes said that mind and matter were entirely different kinds of reality, that the living, acting, and willing person is a duality of mind and matter; and we are still in the position of being able to say very little more.
     Some have tried to explain the interaction as apparent only, by proposing that the succession of bodily events is predetermined at any moment by all that has preceded. The chain of cause and effect is an unbroken one and basically electro-chemical in nature. Paralleling this chain of events involving action is an equally deterministic chain of emotional and intellectual states which succeed one another in a similar way but quite unconnected except that the two separate chains coincide in time. The timing is fortuitous and pure coincidence. Both chains of events march in step so that the incidents happen to occur on the same occasion and thereby appear to be casually related. This view has been termed occasionalism. Coincidence therefore operates throughout life

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to make will and action contemporary but without causal connection. We happen to will to move a hand at a given moment because of a prior series of states of will, and we happen at that moment to move the hand because a series of prior physical states make the movement inevitable.
     Although such a view has been seriously proposed, it does not commend itself to the common man, who is quite sure that his willing determines his acting and is not concerned with how the interaction occurs. The view has only this to commend it, it has the advantage of not requiring any causal relationship between something which is spirit and something which is material.
     But fashions of thought change and a scientific culture with its gross emphasis on materialism, or physicalism as it has been termed, has increasingly tended to view the reality of any spiritual force with suspicion, or at least of any spiritual force which could exist independently of matter. So the drive of the scientific method is towards reducing spirit or mindedness to mere energy, and equating energy with matter. Thus the dualism of Descartes is converted into a monism, by denying the separate existence of any such mysterious force as spirit, will, or mind. These things, whatever they are, are not independent realities. They are extensions of matter emerging out of the physical order when that order has reached a certain complexity, and they are as dependent upon it as electricity is, for example, upon its conductor. Hence, mind is merely brain operating as a refined electro-chemical machine. Lord Adrian in England,
(3) in some introductory remarks to an issue of Science Journal devoted to the study of the brain, writing under the title "The Brain as Physics," set this forth very succinctly by saying, "Our final aim is to bring human behaviour within the framework of the physical sciences." As J. R. Smythies observed: (4)

     During the last one hundred years or so, the rival theory (to Cartesian dualism) of psycho-physical monism has gradually become the dominant theory in Western science and philosophy. In this theory man consists solely of a physical organism, and it holds that every aspect of his experience, life and behaviour, can be explained and accounted for fully on the supposition that the brain operated solely as a physical mechanism. All thoughts, all feeling, all perception and the control of behaviour are mediated by the complex electro-chemical events in the brain and the Cartesian mind simply does not exist.

     Over a hundred years ago, Spencer had suggested that the brain was more like a heat engine and that mental activity was "nothing more

3. Adrian, Lord, "The Brain as Physics," Science Journal, vol.3, no.5, May, 1967, p.3.
4. Smythies, J. R. S., "Aspects of Consciousness," in Beyond Reductionism, edited by A. Koestler and J. Smythies, Hutchinson, London, 1969, p.235.

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than converted heat." (5) Quite recently Seymour S. Kety, (6) without agreeing with Spencer's view, nevertheless was able to tell us the actual heat output, or its electrical equivalent in watts, of this mental machine under various conditions of operation. However, while he accepted as an operating principle this purely mechanistic view of consciousness as originally set forth so lucidly by Claude Bernard, he admitted that acceptance of it is an act of faith, a faith which has not yet been converted into fact by demonstration. Wilder Penfield, (7) one of the world's most renowned neurosurgeons, in a paper entitled "The Physiological Basis of Mind," which formed his address at the symposium on Man's Civilization: Control of the Mind given at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco, had this among his closing remarks which he set forth in lucid terms what the ordinary layman could understand in large measure, the view that the universe was not as material as it seemed to be. This is how he stated the case in 1931:

     In conclusion, it must be said that there is as yet no scientific proof that the brain can control the mind or fully explain it. The assumptions of materialism have never been substantiated.

     So although current opinion insists upon reducing consciousness to the terms of electro-chemistry, it is only by faith that the basic assumption can be made that mind has emerged out of matter as a natural consequence of the potentialities of matter. Like life, they argue, consciousness is physical in origin. Neither life nor consciousness have independent existence but are co-terminous with matter and will vanish completely when matter is dissolved as such. The idea of spiritual life without bodily existence is considered absurd. Neither angels nor demons nor deities are anything more than creations of mind, and mind itself is dependent upon the existence of organized matter at a certain level of complexity. Such creations exist only by the permission therefore of the material world, and will disappear when it does. Where matter came from or will go to is not certain, but the basis of all reality is material, not spiritual. Such is current orthodoxy in the scientific community, and it is considered fully justified because as an operating principle for research it has worked with astounding success.
     Nevertheless, there is growing dissatisfaction with this view. And as I read the literature, the number of competent observers who are beginning to express this dissatisfaction is slowly increasing. Perhaps Sir James Jeans contributed significantly to this change in the climate of opinion when he wrote his famous little book The Mysterious Universe, in

5. Spencer, Herbert: quoted by J. Fisher, "A Criticism of Prof. Ferrier's The Organ of Mind," Transactions of the Victoria Institute, vol.14, 1881, p.149.
6. Kety, Seymour, "A Biologist Examines Mind and Behaviour," Science, vol.132, 1960, p.1861-1870.
7. Penfield, Wilder, A Second Career, Little & Brown, Toronto, 1963, p.151.

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which he set forth in lucid terms what the ordinary layman could understand in large measure, the view that the universe was not as material as it seemed to be This is how he stated his case in 1931: (8)

     To sum up the main results of this and the preceding chapter, the tendency of modern physics is to resolve the whole material universe into waves, and nothing but waves. These waves are of two kinds: bottled-up waves, which we call matter, and un-bottled waves, which we call radiation or light.

     He had gone even further when he gave his Rede Lecture at Cambridge: (9)

     Today, there is a wide measure of agreement, which on the physical side of science approaches almost to unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer looks like an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator . . . the mind in which the atoms (out of which our individual minds have grown) exist as thoughts.

     So here we have a switch: atoms come out of mind, not mind out of atoms. Indeed, atoms partake of the nature of thought itself. For all that, it is not at all certain to me that Jeans was really thinking of this originating Mind as being a personal Creator in the Christian sense. Thus when brain finally appears on the scene with its tremendously complex network of atoms, mind did not automatically emerge out of these atoms, but these atoms were so designed as to be a suitable vehicle for the housing of consciousness. The troublesome problem for the scientist, even one entirely sympathetic to Jeans' view, still remains as to how consciousness or mindedness actually becomes resident in this housing, suitable as it is. Nor are we any nearer to understanding how mindedness can operate within these atoms to effect purposeful movements of other parts of the body.
     Without trying to define mindedness with any precision, I would say with Stanley Cobb
(10) that consciousness is a simpler phenomenon, at a lower level of experience. I think consciousness is largely involuntary. We may, in fact, deliberately will to block out our consciousness -- of some distracting sound, for example. So for the present purposes of this Paper, what I am thinking of when I speak of mindedness is

8. Jeans, Sir James, The Mysterious Universe, Cambridge, 1931, p.77.
9. Jeans, Sir James, reported in The Times, London, Nov. 5, 1930.
10. Cobb, Stanley, "Awareness, Attention and Physiology of the Brain Stem," in Experiments in Psychopathology, edited by Hock and Zubim, Greene & Stratton, New York, 1957, p.202.

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"consciousness that is deliberate," whether it is consciousness of(not or) something in the environment or something within oneself.
     We really need another word to describe the responsiveness of one thing to another, a responsiveness which is more than merely the result of physics and chemistry (as in plant tropisms) or electromagnetic forces (as between metals for example). Perhaps the word "awareness" would be a useful possibility. I do not believe the Paper will suffer very much if these three terms "mindedness," "consciousness," and "awareness" are used without precise definition but in a context which will make their meaning pretty well self-evident to common sense. Russell was quite correct, I think, when he said, "To be perfectly intelligible, one must be inaccurate; to be perfectly accurate, one must be unintelligible."
(11)
     And so it seems to me that in this search for understanding it may be proper to turn the question entirely around and ask, Could it actually be that mind is not an emergent out of matter but matter an emergent out of mind? If matter is bottled-up energy, perhaps the energy is strictly one aspect of mental activity, not out of created mind such as ours but out of the mind of the Creator, the product of a pure non-material mental creative process, as some of the ancient sages held. Mind or Will or some non-physical spiritual reality was then the source of all that has since materialized. Matter, at base, is spiritually originated. The idea has already been hinted at by a number of scientists. Sir Richard Tute in 1946 said, perhaps with a little more assurance than was warranted at the time:
(12)

     The modern scientist recognizes that physical reality is produced by super-physical agencies, which must be so designated because they can never be observed. . . .
     Modern scientists as a class avoid making this admission. It would be tantamount to an admission that the reality of the cosmos is spiritual and, for people who have only very recently disengaged themselves from material prepossessions, this hesitation is understandable.

     It is encouraging to find that Tute's remarks were not the result of a momentary reaction to the horrors of World War II, to which scientific materialism had contributed in no small measure, for in recent years there have been even more pointed admissions made by highly competent scientists in the same vein. In a remarkable dialogue with a correspondent at the University of Maryland (United States), Carl F. von

11. Russell, Bertrand: quoted by Jonathan Cape, in Book Reviews, New Scientist, Jan. 8, 1970, p.70.
12. Tute, Sir Richard, "Science and World Community," under comments and criticisms, Sciientific Monthly, Oct., 1946, p.322.

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Weizsacker of the University of Hamburg (Germany), made the following observation: (13)

     The concept of the particle (of the atom) is itself just a description of a connection which exists between phenomena, and, if I may jump from a very cautious and skilled language into strict metaphysical expression, I see no reason why what we call matter should not be "spirit."
     If I put it in terms of traditional metaphysics, matter is spirit as far as spirit is not known to be spirit.

     I believe what Weizsacker is saying is that matter is spirit in a special form, not in the form of pure spirit, but in a kind of congealed or bottled-up form. There is pure spirit which is non-material. God is pure spirit, so are angels. It is clear that pure spirit can become material by surrendering some element of its absolute nature. This happened when the Word who was God became Flesh without ceasing to be God; yet in some way surrendering just that component of pure spirit which gave truth to His observation that though He and the Father were one (John 10:30), His Father was greater than He (John 14:28).
     It is also clear from Hebrews 11:3 that "the things which are seen," that is to say the components of the material universe, "were not made of things which do appear." From which we may safely assume that God who is pure spirit originated out of His consciousness the physical components of which the substance of the universe is constructed. We have, then, first of all consciousness, independent of matter, and then we have matter created in some way out of consciousness.
     The remarkable thing is that modern research, which owes nothing of its surmisings to Scripture, has nevertheless been tending towards a similar view, even to the extent of countenancing the idea that atoms themselves might have some kind of awareness. In reviewing Jacques Monod's book, Chance and Necessity, Theodosius Dobzhansky made this remark:
(14)

   [Monod] ignores the panpsychism of philosophers like A. N. Whitehead and C. Hartshorn and of biologists like B. Rensch and L. C. Birch, who ascribe some rudimentary forms of life, sensation, and even volition [my emphasis] to entities such as molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles.

     Dobzhansky, indeed, referred to this as a kind of "vitalism made to stand on its head." But I think it is significant that this list of names includes some outstanding figures in the scientific community.

13. Weizsacker, Carl F. von: quoted by W. H. Thorpe in the closing remarks of the symposium Beyond Reductionism, ref.4.
14. Dobzhansky, Theodosius, in Book Reviews, Science, vol.175, 1972, p.49.

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Bernard Rensch, whose research and writings are voluminous and known internationally, published in 1959 a book entitled Evolution Above the Species Level. (15) In this he expresses particular interest in the relation between evolutionary processes in the emergence of living forms and the phenomenon of subjective self-consciousness, which he assumes has arisen by the same evolutionary processes. The question that really always has to be faced in making the assumption that consciousness has arisen out of matter is, At precisely what point in the great chain of being did consciousness first emerge? Rensch finds himself driven to attribute a capacity for sensation to the lowest organized creatures which have shown evidence of learning, that is, coelenterates and possibly even protozoa. He is driven in the end to the position taken by A. N. Whitehead, though he does not actually mention him, that something which belongs in the same realm of reality as consciousness has to be attributed to all existing things, including the inanimate, i.e., including pure non-living matter.
     I have said that he seems to be driven to this conclusion because there really is no alternative. Either one assumes that consciousness is electro-chemical and nothing more and therefore has always been resident in matter, or that it is an addendum injected into the material world from some other order of reality, and this view is not acceptable to the majority of scientists. Edmund W. Sinnott feels that it makes more sense, indeed, to attribute consciousness even where there is no experimental evidence of it, i.e., below levels of organization where we feel safe in attributing consciousness, than to search for some crucial point in time or in the evolutionary scale in which it was introduced suddenly. He would at least equate consciousness with all living matter. In a book titled significantly Cell and Psyche, he wrote:
(16)

     Biological organization (concerned with organic development and physiological activity) and psychical activity (concerned with behaviour and thus leading to mind) are fundamentally the same thing [his emphasis].

     In recent years much more attention has been drawn in the public mind to research in the origin of life than to the origin of consciousness, yet the two problems are of a similar kind and may very well demand that we depart from current physicalistic predispositions. Cyril Ponnamperuma has taken the position that life must be considered an inevitable process and "bound to appear" in the cosmos

15. Rensch, Bernard: quoted by C. H. Waddington, in a book review, Discovery, Oct., 1960, p.453.
16. Sinnott, Edmund, Cell and Psyche: the Biology of Purpose, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1950, pp.48-50.

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whenever conditions are favourable. (17) He has been prepared to accept the view that "au fond" there is no difference between a living organism and lifeless matter. And he would say also that consciousness, by the very principle of continuity, must also be a feature of every aggregate of material particles; for if this were not the case, consciousness would have to arise as a discontinuity, and there should then be a sharp dividing line separating conscious from non-conscious matter. To the pure physicalist, such a dividing line is inconceivable. It introduces a discontinuity by creating two distinct orders of reality (essentially matter and mind), and this is totally unallowable. The creation of matter is problem enough but has to be allowed though inconceivable, the only alternative being that matter is eternal, which is equally inconceivable. If consciousness is an addendum that also required creation, we are introducing yet another "inconceivable," which the physicalists are determined to avoid.
     Ponnamperuma's article stimulated subsequent correspondence . . . notably a letter from D. F. Lawden of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.
(18) Lawden's objection to the idea of originating consciousness out of a system of particles is that while it might explain behaviour per se, it could hardly explain how behaviour could become conscious of itself. It could not, in short, explain self-consciousness. The point is well taken and suggests that we do indeed have real problems with any view that tries to make consciousness a mere derivative of matter. J. B. S. Haldane, believing that "the cooperation of some thousands of millions of cells in our brain can produce our consciousness," (19) necessarily had to attribute consciousness to inert matter, the inert matter of which the brain cells are ultimately composed. He said (20)

     We do not find obvious evidence of life or mind in so-called inert matter, and we naturally study them most easily where they are most completely manifested; but if the scientific point of view is correct, we shall ultimately find them, at least in rudimentary form, all through the universe.

     Such are the unproved assumptions which have to be made by every investigator who is completely logical and accepts the thesis that consciousness is in some way coincident with matter. But if the premise is

17. Ponnamperuma, Cyril, "Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life," Nature, vol.201, 1964, p.337.
18. Lawden, D. F., in Letters to the Editor, under Biology, Nature, vol.202, 1964, p.412.
19. Haldane, J. B. S., "Essay on Science and Ethics," in The Inequality of Man, Chatto, London, 1932, p.113.
20. Ibid.

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turned around and matter is taken as a form of congealed consciousness, a direct creation out of the mind of God, then mind is not an epiphenomenon of matter but matter is an epiphenomenon of mind. The brain as a physical organ is not the originator of consciousness, will, or volition as commonly held, but merely a specialized housing of consciousness in a concentrated form, an important locus of involvement but by no means the only seat of it. Every cell in the body should be expected to have, or to be, a locus of consciousness, for every cell would in fact be an expression of it. Such a view of the organization of the body, not merely a human body but any living body, might account for some of the extraordinary things which single cells are capable of doing when they are treated in a suitable way.
     Such an explanation is not scientific, if by scientific one means predicated on a purely mechanical model, but it would not be irrational. And it is satisfying to this extent, that it gives a reasonable explanation (granted the premise) of a great deal that can only be currently "explained" in mechanistic terms by stretching the use of those terms entirely unreasonably. Thus it is customary to say, for example, that in the embryo cells in some particular area set up for themselves a field which mysteriously organizes them or enables them to organize themselves into some particular structure. But what does the word "field" actually explain? It only covers our ignorance of what is really happening. At the present moment we are entitled to exercise our imaginations a little and escape from the current straitjacket which views the material world as the ultimate reality.
     I do not see my view as equivalent to the panpsychism of Carlyle or Fechner, because while they viewed all aggregates of matter as being possessed of some kind of animus much as primitive people always have, they did not see matter as an expression of mindedness. Mind was still, for them, secondary to matter, an epiphenomenon of it, not it of mind. On the contrary, what I am arguing is that the basic reality is spiritual (of which mindedness is merely one mode) and that matter is a kind of secondary congealing of it, in which the true identity of mindedness is by no means lost but only apportioned appropriately depending upon its organization.
     Inanimate matter would then still be mindedness objectified, but objectified in such a way that our research tools are not designed to elucidate. When plant life was created, mindedness could be displayed more completely than it could in inanimate matter. When animal life was created, mindedness was provided with an even more liberating mode of expression. When man was created, liberation went one step further, appearing not merely as consciousness, but as

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self-consciousness. At the time of the Incarnation we meet with the epitome of pure spirit objectified within the material order. We reach here the apex of matter as an expression of spirit: and yet not quite the apex, for time and space still served as boundaries and therefore to some small extent as limitations of spirit. In the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, consciousness was set perfectly free while yet still being engaged in some mysterious way within the created order of things (Luke 24: 39), as the Lord Jesus Christ expressed Himself in a glorified body no longer bound by space and time.
     There is a very real sense in which it is the material order that is mystical, and not the spiritual order, as we so commonly view it. The real mystery is how the spiritual can be materialized. The mystical union of which we speak, that binds the saints into a Body, is mystery because our material existence seems to render us so discrete and individual that any true union is hard to conceive except with those who are near to us physically or geographically. What the scientific community sees as a mystery is how such a spiritual non-material phenomenon as mindedness or consciousness can emerge from matter. But what Scripture sees as the real mystery, the great mystery (1 Timothy 3:16), is how pure spirit can become materialized, as happened when God was manifested in the flesh. And this is really the secret also of what happened when God created the universe in the first place.
     In the next Chapter let us see how this has made possible the building of more complex centres of consciousness by combining millions of smaller fragments into a larger whole. 

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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