Everyone has been experiencing the ill effects of disruptive politics. Thinking of the present situation in terms of a partisan divide doesn't go far enough--there has been a wholesale loss of trust. Hope for a better future is defeated on a daily basis. Faith in the democratic system is perhaps at an all-time low. This malaise isn't about issues and parties. It's about how we view bad events and react to them.
Each of us perceives reality through the filter of a personal self, an "I" that is unique in the world, thanks to the unique experiences we've had since birth. We rely on "I" to be able to navigate through everyday situations, not realizing how limiting "I" actually is. It's fair to say that few people realize how unstable and distorted their sense of self is. To begin with, each of us filters out an enormous portion of the input we receive at a given moment.
No idea has become baked into the social fabric than Darwinism, and yet Darwin himself never meant this to happen. In his mind, he was scientifically describing "the descent of species," a specific notion of how life forms changed over time. Evolution was a rebuttal of the prevailing concept that species were fixed--if honeybees, ferns, and pandas exist, they always had. The momentous discovery of fossils, among other things, offered irrefutable evidence that species could vanish, and more importantly, that current species had ancestors.
One of the most surprising survivors in our society, long counted out as either moribund or dead, is philosophy. The "love of truth," as the Greek term describes, was defeated by science and its love of facts. So it was unexpected when the New York Times ran an op-ed piece titled "If We Are Not Just Animals, What Are We?" (March 6, 2017) by the veteran English philosopher Roger Scruton.
Omniscience, the ability to know everything, has a strong spiritual tradition, which places it as a divine quality, not a human one. In secular society, artificial intelligence grabs headlines while omniscience, except for those who believe in an all-knowing God, is an archaic notion. But there’s a reason why omniscience arose in the first place, and its possibility turns out to be very human.
The phrase "personal reality" has a range of meanings, and most people would begin with their situation, the place where they find themselves. There's a natural impulse to improve the situation, whatever it happens to be. If your situation lacks enough money, satisfying work, a loving relationship, and so on, it will improve your personal reality to work on those things. That's about as far as society tells us we can go. On a larger scale, one person can make a minuscule difference by casting a vote for President or deciding to recycle, but big or small, personal reality has a big outer component, consisting of the external world, other people, natural forces, and so on.
Anyone who has had the audacity to question mainstream science soon runs afoul, particularly in the blogosphere, of hard-line skeptics. Whether they are simply insistent or outright aggressive, the skeptical viewpoint has long been founded on a simple principle. Reality is what lies before us, in the three-dimensional world "out there" that's verified by the five senses. If you can see it, feel it, touch, taste, and smell it, the thing in question is real (making provisions for scientific instruments like telescopes and microscopes that extend the naked eye).
When the average American goes to the doctor, shows up at the ER, or enters the hospital, the risks and complexities of our healthcare system strike home vividly. Besides the expense of care and the intricate tests and procedures a patient faces, there is a widely under-reported risk of medical mistakes and “adverse events,” as they care called, which can range from minor to disastrous.
Home is a charged word for everyone, a source of emotion that's intimately associated with feeling safe and loved, of belonging. When asked "Where is home?" people reply with a country or city, perhaps a specific street address. Almost no one says "My home is the universe." But for scientists trying to explain cosmic issues, the fact that the universe is the ultimate home where human life arose poses some huge mysteries. In our book You Are the Universe , we explore these mysteries, but that's really secondary to something more important. We aim to show that the universe exists to be the home of human beings.
Science has been falsely portrayed as the enemy of spirituality, largely because of a noisy band of militant atheists who also happen to be scientists. Their outcry that to believe in God is irrational and therefore anti-scientific misses the point. Not all scientists are irreligious, but the whole premise of this militant group is faulty. They don't just disbelieve in God; they disbelieve in the entire domain of subjectivity. What happens “in here" is unscientific, they say, a preposterous claim given that the works of Shakespeare and Mozart emerged from the inner world, along with all sensations, feelings, and thoughts.
The universe and the human brain have something important in common. The inner workings of both are invisible. At this moment you have no perception of what's happening in your brain; neural activity is unknown to the mind of the person to whom the neurons belong without the invention of brain scans to reveal that activity, and then only crudely. Imagine, being a master of a house and not knowing or seeing what is inside the house.
By Deepak Chopra, MD FACP and Mark L. Zeidel, M.D.
Some diseases make headlines, pull at our heart strings, and inspire high-visibility fundraising events. Others, like kidney disease, wreak havoc more quietly. Chronic kidney disease afflicts more than 26 million people in the U.S., putting them at high risk for other serious illnesses, like heart disease. Nearly half a million people suffer from end-stage kidney disease, a devastating condition often requiring dialysis or transplantation. Medicare spends more than 30 billion dollars a year taking care of kidney failure patients—about 6 percent of the Medicare budget.
The most widely accepted notions about the universe are central to how we view reality. One striking example links birth and death. In the age of faith, religion existed to reassure believers about a higher plane of reality. On this plane, the everyday experience of birth and death was negated. Souls were immortal aspects of being human. Depending on your particular religion, the soul either went to Heaven, if one were good, after death or existed perpetually in a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
It takes a lot to overturn the accepted view of reality, but it doesn't take a lot to begin. The accepted view of reality holds that human beings exist in the context of a vast physical universe "out there." Only an extreme mystic would doubt this description, but all of us should. Sir John Eccles, a famous British neurologist and Nobel laureate, declared, "I want you to realize that there exists no color in the natural world, and no sound – nothing of this kind; no textures, no patterns, no beauty, no scent." What Eccles means is that all the qualities of Nature, from the luxurious scent of a rose to the sting of a wasp and the taste of honey, are produced by human beings. Erwin Schrödinger, one of the main founders of quantum mechanics, said essentially the same thing when he declared that photons, quanta of light, have no color, such properties arise in the biology of perception.
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