Approaching Scientific Consensus
Cartesian Dualism was the dominant religious consensus about our spirits during Joseph Smith's time. Joseph Smith clearly broke from that naive way of thinking. There is new emerging evidence at Canonizer.com that there could already be significant scientific consensus amongst theoretical experts in the field about the nature of our spirits and consciousness. The direction Joseph Smith was pushing was clearly in the direction of this modern emerging consensus about what spirits are. He was clearly way ahead of his time. We believe both religion and science are about seeking truth, finding out how to live a better life with the ultimate goal of salvation. Ultimately, the two will converge, demonstrating to all, which theories are the correct ones, to the falsification of all others.
We predict the refined 'spiritual mater' or qualities Joseph smith talked about are the same as what theoreticians of today call phenomenal properties or quale. In other words, redness and greenness, are the ineffable phenomenal properties Joseph Smith said cannot be seen without spiritual eyes. We predict there is a 'spirit world' composed of qualia
, produced by our brain which contains our 'spirit' - as defined and predicted by the emerging expert consensus Representational Qualia Theory
The famed philosopher Rene Descartes
, in the 1600s, promoted the primitive theory about our spirits that has become known as classical "Cartesian Dualism"
. This is the idea that our body communicates with and is controlled by an incorporeal spirit residing in a spiritual realm. The theory was that this communication took place through the penal gland at the center of the brain. We know much more about what the penal gland is today, so most modern versions of this theory look, instead, to some kind of quantum communication to and from this spirit world.
A large majority of modern religions and society in general, have tended towards accepting this naive theory as their working hypothesis. There are some notable exceptions to this idea that humans have spirits independent from the brain, such as those believed by Jehova's Witnesses
. This traditional Cartesian view is portrayed in many popular movies and media such as Ghost
, and The Sixth Sense
. The popular portrayal of many near death experiences are clearly based on the assumption that Cartesian dualism is true. There is an emerging minority consensus camp that is compatible with this view in the consciousness survey project known as "Higher Dimensional Theories"
Emerging Scientific Consensus
The primary topic in the Consciousness Survey Project at Canonizer.com is providing surprising early scientific evidence that there may already be a significant consensus emerging about what consciousness is and what spirits are amongst experts in this field of theoretical science. These experts include such people as Daniel Dennett
, Steven Lehar
, David Chalmers
, Stuart Hameroff
, and a growing number of other world leaders in this theoretical field of science. The current consensus camps start at the fundamental Approachable Via Science
level. At the next sub camp level, with nearly as much support, is the recently renamed "Representational Qualia Theory"
. The clear consensus continues down to the "Mind-Brain Identity Theory"
camp. Only below this level does some significant lack of consensus start to appear, illustrated by the running neck and neck Functional
Property Dualism camps. This could indicate that the only significant disagreement currently might be about what these phenomenal, or spiritual, if you will, qualities or qualia
are, and how they relate to the underlying neural correlates. The best leading theories include descriptions of how neural scientists will be able to prove them right, to the falsification of all competing theories.
So far, as ever more experts 'canonize' their views, Representational Qualia Theory
and other consensus camps continue to extend their significant consensus lead compared to any other possible theories, indicating that we may already have made significant progress towards the time when science falsifies all other camps and all the experts end up in the one best description camp of what our spirits and consciousness are. The goal of Consciousness Survey Project at Canonizer.com is to rigorously track and quantitatively measure all such expert and popular consensus, regardless of where the expert consensus leads, as we continue to make demonstrable progress in our understanding of all things both spiritual and physical.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith
Cartesian Dualism was obviously the popularly accepted religious view of spirits in Joseph Smith's day in the early 1800s. Some of the teachings put forth by Joseph Smith at that time include the following:
"There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter,
but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;
We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see
that it is all matter"
"The body is supposed to be organized matter, and the spirit,
by many, is thought to be immaterial, without substance.
With this latter statement we should beg leave to differ, and
state that spirit is a substance; that it is material, but that it is
more pure, elastic and refined matter than the body; that it existed
before the body, can exist in the body; and will exist separate from
the body, when the body will be mouldering in the dust; and will in
the resurrection, be again united with it"
(Joseph Smith History of the Church 4:575)
He also taught that "elements were not created or made, but can be organized into a spirit being." (TPJS pp. 351-54).
In the 1800s, Joseph Smith was clearly departing from the primitive and naive idea of Cartesian Dualism. Given what he said, one can argue that he was way ahead of his time, pushing precisely towards what the scientific expert consensus of today now accepts as their working hypothesis about what our spirits are.
Minority Expert Views Often Drowned Out by Popular NaivetÃ©
At first, many people thought Einstein's ideas were crazy. Thankfully, it was very easy for science to prove him right. In other fields, like the study of the mind, science hasn't yet proven who is right, and who is really crazy. This field also suffers from the fact that the good arguments are a bit difficult to understand, and non intuitive - putting them beyond easy grasp by the masses.
A good example is Naive Realism
. Even Descartes understood the falsifying reasons around this view, as did many minority experts as far back as Plato. Even though there is emerging evidence in canonizer.com, and in the peer reviewed journals, in general, that there is near unanimous acceptance of the impossibility of this view, the general population still tends to drown out this growing expert voice and continues to believe in Naive Realism.
Eventually, science will prove to everyone, who the experts are, and who was just crazy and naive, and everyone will accept who was the most wise and visionary, and who were clearly mistaken.
As can be seen in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article on "Spirit"
, and in the general popular writings and conference talks on the issue, it can be argued that the general consensus of the church has been tending to interpreting the teachings of Joseph Smith in a way that pushes them back towards the traditional naÃ¯ve ideas surrounding Cartesian Dualism, where an incorporeal conscious spirit in another spiritual realm, survives the brain when it dies, in something of a state that is at least as conscious as we are with our bodies. However, there are a growing number of expert Mormons, including a good portion of Mormon Transhumanists
that are, instead of regressing to such popular primitive and naÃ¯ve beliefs, recognize the validity of rational science and what it is teaching us about consciousness and spiritual experiences.
There is a continuum of possible theories about what happens to our spirits when we die. On the one end, there is the view that, when our brain dies, our consciousness and everything we are goes with it, and that death is the end. This continuum extends out to the view that there is something equally conscious to what we experience now, which survives after the brain dies. This continuum of theories extends beyond this, including the beliefs that there are significant 'spiritual' faculties and memories restored when we die. Many members of the church, today, seem to assume that we will be more than we are now, after we die, at least in some ways.
However, a growing number of people recognize things that Joseph Smith said about "body parts and passions" being critically important to the totality of our 'souls', and that much of what we have now, with our bodies, is lost between the time of death, and before we are re-united with our physical bodies in resurrection. This puts their working hypothesis much closer to the view that we might not be conscious of or able to 'feel' many joys and things, after we die, and approaching the current scientific consensus of today. Even if one does accept the more traditional view that we have a completely independent form the brain spirit that survives after death, this remains the only significant difference between Mormon Doctrine and the current emerging scientific consensus.
Representational Qualia Theory
Representational Qualia Theory
predicts there are phenomenal qualities, or qualia
like redness and greenness that are not properties of any cause of a perception process like the surface of a strawberry reflecting something like 650 NM light. Instead, these properties are properties of the final result of the perception process or our knowledge of such. Our cause and effect based eyes suffer from a 'veil of phenomenal perception'
. Because of this we aren't directly aware of anything in the world, but instead, are only consciously aware of our knowledge of such. This knowledge being the final result of the perception process - a 3D model of reality, built by our brain, that tracks the world beyond our senses via the abstracted data collected by them.
At the center of the diorama like 3D model that tracks reality, built by our brain, is our knowledge of our body, including our knowledge of our skull with eyes. When we stub our toe, the pain is not in the real toe, it is in our knowledge of our toe, in our brain.
We also have conscious knowledge of our 'spirit' or 'self' or 'I', which our brain represents as looking out of our knowledge of our eyes, from within our knowledge of our skull. Of course the Naive view would tend to be that this knowledge of our spirit is one and the same thing as a real spirit. Or at best, that this knowledge must have a referent in reality, like our knowledge of our skull, our brain produces. But of course, capable experts recognize the many impossible or illogical errors in such naÃ¯ve views. There is no problem thinking of our 'spirit' as simply knowledge of such built by our brain, at the center of this spiritual world of knowledge built by our brain. We know such absolutely exists, more than we know anything else in the world exists.
Out of body experiences are predicted to be when this knowledge of our 'spirit' leaves our knowledge of our body, all in the 3D diorama like knowledge of the world - built by our brain. This world in our brain, composed of phenomenal properties, as predicted by this theory is identical to our intuitive idea of spirits in a spirit world in almost every way, including phantom limb pain, the ability of spirits to travel through walls, and to represent knowledge of ghostly spirits, visiting us from the grave. It's also telling that our spiritual knowledge of incorporeal visitors from spiritual realms, are usually represented as looking much like we knew them to be in real life, while our own spirit, especially during out of body experiences and such, is more like a Casper the Friendly ghost representation, and often not visible in mirrors.
Even if we do accept the theory that we have an incorporeal 'spirit' that our knowledge of such represents, if this spirit does survive after the body dies, it necessarily must have some subset of itself that is any knowledge it has of its self residing in its environment, whatever that may be. This kind of ghostly Cartesian dualism thinking quickly becomes absurd and necessarily infinitely recursive, which has always been the most significant logical problem of the theory.
is a sub camp of Representational Qualia Theory with nearly as much consensus. It predicts phenomenal qualities or qualia
, like redness and greenness, will turn out to be these 'more refined' qualities of spiritual matter Joseph Smith was talking about. These spiritual qualities cannot be seen by our eyes, or are said to be 'ineffable', just as Joseph Smith Described. This is predicted to be because they suffer from the "Quale Interpretation Problem" in that, unless you know how to interpret an abstracted representation or word like salty, describing a phenomenal or spiritual quality, you can't know, from the abstract word alone, what it describes. All abstract data coming to us from our cause and effect based senses, necessarily suffers from this quale interpretation problem. We can't know what the original referent is truly phenomenally like, because we don't yet know how to properly interpret the causal data being detected and interpreted or abstracted by our senses. Our brain simply chooses to interpret such with the phenomenal properties it has available. As the theory predicts, my redness could be more like your greenness, or something that you have never experienced before in your life - giving us no clue to whether the real strawberry is phenomenally like anything or not.
The things Joseph Smith said about spirits, especially the stuff talking about spiritual stuff as being more refined material stuff that can be organized into spiritual beings, illustrate that Joseph Smith would have also agreed with many of doctrines of these leading consensus camps of today, way ahead of his time in the early 1800s.
Both Science and Religion Leading to Truth
We believe that all religious and scientific truth are not only compatible, but that scientific and religious endeavors are seeking after the same answers about critically important ideas about what we are, and our place in existence, where we might be going, and what will ultimately be possible. The goals of each is to better understand what our spirits are, enabling us to amplify them and eventually possibly achieve their immortal salvation. To the degree there are any contradictory ideas between the two, science and experience will eventually prove which theory is correct, to the demonstrable convincing of all.
We believe that the clear scientific consensus theory emerging is predicting that we are on the verge of what could be considered the greatest scientific discovery of all time: the discovery of the relationship of the subjective, to the underlying neural correlates. That this will enable us to 'see with spiritual eyes', as Joseph Smith Predicted, by perceiving, sharing, and experiencing spiritual properties. These theories predict this 'effing' of the ineffable, will be achieved in the various week and strong ways, predicted in the various theories and sub camps. Such will eventually enable us to, when we hug a loved one, be able to experience much more than half of what is being spiritually felt.
We believe that this will eventually lead to our 'spirits' being able to very literally rend this veil between the spiritual and the physical, and enable our spirits to ultimately escape these mortal and spiritually isolated prison walls, that are our skulls. And once our spirits have so escaped out into the world that surely must be more 'spiritual' than we can currently perceive, that this will be the beginning of what Mormons consider the Millennium to be, where there is no more death as we currently know it.