10 responses

  1. David Bennett
    27 September, 2011

    Apropos “…there is no example of anything mystical that does not have a 100% scientific explanation based on observation, evidence and facts…”

    Definition: Mystical
    1. Of or having a spiritual reality or import not apparent to the intelligence or senses.
    2. Of, relating to, or stemming from direct communion with ultimate reality or God: a mystical religion.
    3. Enigmatic; obscure: mystical theories about the securities market.
    4. Of or relating to mystic rites or practices.
    5. Unintelligible; cryptic.


    How do consciousness and awareness connect with the physical universe?

    How does the woman on the top deck of the no. 19 bus as it passes sense your presence as you turn to look at each other?

  2. David Bradley
    27 September, 2011

    That probably wasn’t the best way I could put it…but, doesn’t she simply sense your presence through her senses?

  3. ophu
    27 September, 2011

    I wonder what sense it is when you can feel someone’s eyes on you, and the hairs on the nape of your neck stand up. At any rate, to assume all mystical experiences have been explained is to assume that all mystical experiences have been found.

    • David Bradley
      27 September, 2011

      Show me evidence that anyone has ever “felt someone’s eyes on them”.

      • Kit
        28 September, 2011

        I’m always bothered by (some) scientists’ obsession with “show me evidence”. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. What kind of evidence do you mean – physical? Is that the only kind of evidence that matters? The universe is 100% physical matter and should only ever be expressed in those terms?

        Ok, if evidence is that important – then please show me the evidence that ‘memes’ (referenced in the article) actually exist? Just a single shred of evidence, just one scintilla.

        Also, the final paragraph – mysticism, superstition, and religion are entirely different things and to equate them together is either ignorance or wilfulness.

        Apart from that, interesting article.

      • David Bradley
        29 September, 2011

        Thanks for your thoughts, very glad you enjoyed the article. Yes, I concede that with current technology it is difficult to produce physical evidence for the existence of memes, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility at some distant point in the future. Just this month, Stanford or was it Berkeley used fMRI to map blood flow in the brain to the moving images that volunteers were watching. Now, that’s obviously light years away from mind reading, but who knows what might emerge in the future?

        As to whether there is a distinction between mysticism, superstition, and religion…I’m darned if I can see one. They all have their origin in our ignorance and fear of the nature of reality as far as I can see.

      • Kit
        29 September, 2011

        Two things there.

        One. We all know that Richard Dawkins invented the meme concept to account for culture in the same way as the gene accounts for natural selection. Basically he wanted a way to account for religion in particular, and the meme was his response. But what is it? It’s just ideas! If human beings became extinct – guess what? – there would be no more memes. They have no more independent existence than genes have independent motivation.

        The difference between mysticism, superstition, and religion? That’s a huge subject, I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s begin with the easiest – superstition. Yes, I think we can agree it’s fear, but fear of reality? Could be, but certainly it’s a primitive, atavistic mental habit we need to evolve out of.
        Religion? Hm. There are far too many of these throughout history to be able to easily dismiss it as a concept. For one thing, there is such variety. From shamanism (nature), through Buddhism and Taoism (non-theist), to Abrahamic monotheism – they’re all so different! You cannot dismiss Buddhism or Taoism as “superstition” as they are the very opposite of that, dealing with reality as they do. There is however, one thing which all religions have in common, and that’s the Golden Rule, i.e. “Do as you would be done by” or “Don’t do as you wouldn’t be done by”. They have been the source of our best moral frameworks, though you could say that humanitarianism fulfils that role equally now.
        Mysticism? You’ve made a big mistake here. I suggest you really don’t know anything about it, and you’ve either taken its meaning from hard atheists (who also don’t know what it is, and don’t care to learn) or else you accept the misconception that it is “keeping things a mystery that simply aren’t”. Actually, although mysticism exists in all cultures and religions, it is an experiential phenomenon. It’s been described by people of no religion, who of course describe it in non-religious terms. Those who describe in religious terms are just backfilling – mentally – from the experience to what the experience means.
        You really need to talk to some Buddhists. Then you might hear that mystical experience – far from being fear of reality – are in fact glimpses OF reality. No-one normally experiences reality, as it’s filtered through perception and human senses, layers of ego and memory and association, and heaven knows what else. But just once in a while reality breaks through for a few. It’s truly shocking in the sense that they never ever forget the experience, but at the same time, they don’t feel threatened or alien, because there is nothing threatening or alien about reality. It just “is”.

        That’s just dipping your toe in the water – but I hope I’ve done something to differentiate between those three things?

  4. David Bradley
    30 September, 2011

    Thanks for your comment Kit. I’m annoyed with myself that I wrote this article with a double edge as it has totally distracted readers from the fascinating and testable theory of music’s origin put forward by Changizi and led some to focus on my non-mystical allusions.

    • Kit
      30 September, 2011

      You’re welcome. Re-reading the article again, I’m unable to resonate with its main thesis – in other words that culture is some by-product of brain function and that music in particular is the formalised sounds of human behaviour. Music is far deeper to us than that, I believe; it is related for example, to mathematics, to our sense of beauty, to memory, to many things. I can see that it has a highly emotional charge too, but then there is music for the body (dance), and then there is music for the head (prog rock, Bach’s Inventions) and then again music that appeals to all three faculties. Not to mention the great religious works of music inspiring awe in those who believe, though these can also be appreciated by the non-religious. Some music is written simply for its own sake, with none of the “resonances” mentioned in the article. Or so I believe.

      • David Bradley
        26 November, 2011

        Kit From what I gather from Changizi’s writing and conversations I have had with him about this, it’s simply much deeper, that it is the resonances in our brain that allow us to interpret human movement that then allows us to “understand” sounds that are not human movement that are represented by music. In a similar way to our being able to feel all kinds of things when looking at an abstract painting it is that our brains inherently “know” something about looking at stuff…likewise with hearing.

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