Tag Archives: brain

Small Revision to my latest book A ‘Final Theory’ of God

I am currently working on an Updated Edition of my last book, A ‘Final Theory’ of God. The update will primarily focus on scientific developments/discoveries since the book was published in 2014, and especially developments in neuroscience. However, these scientific developments require some consequential revisions to other arguments in the book. For the benefit of those who have already read the book, I would like to share one small revision I shall be making.

It relates to the interaction between the neurological networks of instinct, reason and morality, and specifically how the activation of the neurological moral network (morality module) in the first of the human species is portrayed in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.

The revision relates to Chapter 7 of the book (The Manifestation of the Laws of Physics as the Human Brain – The Meaning of the Garden of Eden), at pages 131 – 133. For those who have not read the book, abridged articles on Genesis chapters 2 and 3 can be found here  http://wp.me/p5izWu-7r and here http://wp.me/p5izWu-7C.

I should stress, however, that these and other revisions do not detract from the overall arguments in the book; they reinforce and clarify those arguments.

Brief Background Summary

Chapter 7 of the book is an analysis of the culmination of the unfolding of the fundamental laws of physics as a human organism with a capacity for moral judgement.

Preceding chapters explain how the brain developed the distinct neurological faculties (neurological networks) of instincts and reason. Initially the capacity to reason was limited to servicing those instincts. The primary human instincts are survival, security and reproduction, which are instincts we share with animals. Instincts are activated by the prospect of pleasure or the fear of pain. However, the human capacity to reason (think, scheme, evaluate, plan etc) at a higher level than animals causes humans to devise ways to indulge (or over-indulge) the pleasure to be had by servicing their primitive instincts and react (or over-react) to the fear of pain. To counter this propensity to over-indulge or over-react to the prospect of pleasure or fear of pain, the human brain is endowed with what neuroscience now recognises as a neurological moral network, or morality module (McMillan, 2017). The neurological moral network was somehow activated at some point during the development of the human brain.

Chapter 7 of the book explains that the description of the Garden of Eden and the story of Adam and Eve are metaphors for the formation and functioning of the human brain, and the process by which the neurological moral network was activated in the first of the human species to experience it. The book describes the metaphor of the Garden of Eden as follows.

The “trees” [that are “made to grow”] perfectly correspond to [the various neurological faculties] – “pleasant to the sight” refers to instincts; “good for food” refers to the innate ‘knowledge’ of how the universe and life functions and the human compulsion to consciously acquire that ‘knowledge’; and “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the neurological moral network (page 120).

But the “tree of life” is more problematic. If the “Garden of Eden” refers to the human brain, and the “trees” to the various faculties (neurological networks) that constitute the brain, then the “tree of life” should correspond to a neurological network. And it should be noted that “the man” was not prohibited from eating of the “tree of life” (Genesis 2:16 & 17).

The Revision

The revision that I will be making to the book resolves that problem, and it is found in a proper understanding of the symbolism of “the serpent” (Genesis 3:1-5). In the book, I explain these verses as follows:

The story of Eve’s (the woman’s) temptation, therefore, clearly illustrates the interaction between morality, instinct and reason. The serpent represents the instinct for reproduction. The symbolism of the serpent ‘speaking’ relates to the allure of pleasure to be had by indulging the instinct for reproduction. And Eve ‘seeing’ “that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, …” symbolises the human ability to ‘reason’ to justify taking actions that we ‘know’ are wrong. The prohibition against eating of the tree represents morality – the neurological moral network within the brain that ‘speaks’ to us of the morality of certain actions, and acts as a restraint to actions which offend against it, if we listen to it (pages 131 – 132).

In adopting that interpretation of these verses (ie Genesis 3:1 – 7) I was swayed, to an extent, by the interpretation of Philo Judaeus (also called Philo of Alexandria, the great Jewish philosopher who lived at about the same time as Jesus) who described the symbolism of “the serpent” like this:

Anyone who follows a reasonable train of conjecture, will say with great propriety, that the … serpent is the symbol of pleasure.  … The serpent is said to have uttered a human voice, because pleasure employs innumerable champions and defenders who take care to advocate its interests, and who dare to assert that the power over everything, both small and great, does of right belong to it without any exception whatever (Philo, 2015, p. p. LVI (157) and (160) respectively).

However, after considerable reflection, and specifically in attempting to explain the “tree of life” in the context of the Garden of Eden being a metaphor for the human brain, it became increasingly obvious that “the serpent” represents the human capacity to reason (think, reflect, scheme, devise, evaluate, plan, investigate etc). I will be setting out the argument for that conclusion in full in the Updated Edition of the book but set out here the argument in outline.

The Outline Argument

The serpent” symbolises reason advocating for the pleasure that could be had by succumbing to the demands of some or other primitive instinct (and the phallic imagery of “the serpent” suggests the instinct for reproduction) to indulge in some physical act or acts which the neurological moral network cautions is ‘wrong’. The reply to “the serpent” by “the woman” that God had prohibited them from eating of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” (the “fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden”) is the response from the neurological moral network cautioning that the behaviour contemplated is wrong. The response from “the serpent” symbolises reason then challenging that warning from the neurological moral network against indulging in the contemplated behaviour by proclaiming that “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4 & 5).

That final response from “the serpent” (reason) induces “the woman” to find ‘justification’ for ignoring the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network by citing the perceived ‘benefits’ that she thinks (reasons) may be derived by indulging her primitive instincts:

The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was PLEASANT to the eyes, and a tree to be DESIRED to make one wise, and took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband with her: and he did eat (Genesis 3:6).

The words “pleasant” and “desired” pointedly refer to pleasure; the pleasure reason perceives is to be had by indulging in some or other type of physical behaviour (and the imagery of “the serpent” suggests sexual behaviour of some kind) that the neurological moral network cautions is wrong.

That “the woman” perceived the tree to be “good for food” refers to the primitive human instinct to find the means to satisfy the demands of our primary primitive instincts of survival, security and reproduction. The word “food” refers to the desire to provide ‘sustenance’ for primitive instincts, and “good” refers to those things which can most effectively provide such ‘sustenance’. But in this case, ‘sustenance’ was not an issue because there was an abundance of other fruit in the Garden that they were free to ‘eat’. The reference to “the woman” justifying ‘eating’ the fruit on the basis of it being “good for food” thus symbolises reason invoking an otherwise ‘natural’ human action (simply responding to our instincts) to justify an action that the neurological moral network was strongly warning was wrong. It wasn’t for basic ‘sustenance’ that she was justifying eating of the fruit, but over-indulgence of some primitive instinct because of the perceived additional pleasure it may generate.

Finally, the words “to make one wise” refer to the human instinct to acquire ‘knowledge’ of the world and how it functions as a means to better cater to the demands of our primitive instincts. However, in this case, “the woman” applies reason to justify indulging an action that offends against the neurological moral network on the pretext that it would provide additional ‘knowledge’ (“make one wise”) even although it had nothing to do with servicing the basic needs for survival, security or reproduction, but only for the perceived pleasure it may generate.

Once that moral boundary had been crossed, the descendants of these human beings would pursue pleasure for the sake of pleasure itself, not just to satisfy a particular instinctive need such as hunger or reproduction. Philo put the distinction well:

For other animals pursue pleasure only in taste and in the acts of generation; but man aims at it by means of his other senses also, devoting himself to whatever sights or sounds can impart pleasure to his eyes or ears (Philo, 2015, p. p. LVIII (163)) – and I would add, not just his “eyes and ears”.

Why acquiring knowledge of good and evil was wrong

The reason it was wrong to ‘acquire’ the “knowledge of good and evil” is that an act had to be taken which offended against the neurological moral network for it to be consciously activated. That opened the way for human beings, who up until then had simply conformed to the subconscious constraints of the neurological moral network, to ‘rationalise’ setting aside any sense of guilt or conscience caused by indulging the demands of their primitive instincts and seek to maximise pleasure and eliminate at any cost any perceived threat that may cause ‘pain’. From then on, human beings would no longer be satisfied with simply sustaining their lives in harmony with nature. They began to desire in excess. They proclaimed ‘ownership’ of more land than they needed for their own survival, even if that meant depriving others of the basic necessities. They sought to conquer, plunder and destroy to allay their fears and insecurities. It meant building castles, building kingdoms, building empires. The human species had fallen into bondage of their primitive instincts. They became slaves to the pursuit of pleasure and the fear of pain. But as Philo says, “And those who have previously become the slaves of pleasure immediately receive the wages of this miserable and incurable passion” (Philo, 2015, p. p. LX (167)). A condition, says Philo, “more miserable than death” (Philo, 2015, p. p. LVIII (164)).

A further consequence arises from “the serpent’s” initial claim that eating of the Tree would make them “as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). They would not then need to pay any attention to the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network, they could do as they please, and would be accountable to nobody. There would be no need to believe in God. They could decide for themselves what was right and wrong, and they would not feel any guilt for their actions.

Reason and The Tree of Life

Recognising that “the serpent” symbolises the human capacity to ‘reason’ leads to the supposition that the “tree of life” is a metaphor for ‘reason’ as well. But there is a difference. And that relates to the application of reason. I shall set out the argument in outline only.

The “tree of life” and the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” that were in the “midst of the garden” (Genesis 2:9 & 3:3) refer to the initial harmony between reason (“the tree of life”) and the neurological moral network (“the tree of knowledge of good and evil”). At this early stage of human development reason subconsciously complied with the restraint of the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network when responding to the demands of primitive instinct. That is not idle speculation. It is supported by anthropological evidence, as can be seen in the earliest of the human species, whose descendants survive to this day, most notably the San people of southern Africa (and I would include also perhaps other indigenous peoples like the Aboriginal people of Australia and the Inuit). Those who have not yet been ‘civilised’ respond subconsciously to the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network.

This state of harmony between reason and the moral demands of the neurological moral network is symbolised by the words “and they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).

But the human capacity for reason was not and is not genetically limited to subconsciously complying with the restraint cautioned by the neurological moral network. The human capacity for reason was and is capable of contemplating and entertaining actions which would violate the neurological moral network. And human beings were and are capable of ‘rationalising’ disobedience to the restraint urged by the neurological moral network by citing the need and benefits of servicing their primitive instincts. That is symbolised in the exchanges between “the serpent” and “the woman”. The “serpent” symbolises this malevolent aspect of the human capacity to reason, but it also demonstrates that the human will is free to choose whether to serve the moral demands of the neurological moral network or the demands of primitive instinct, although it does know which choice is right.

So when the first human beings took some action that violated the neurological moral network it caused a sense of guilt; it pricked their conscience, and they sought to ‘cover up’ their indiscretion by blanking it out, so to speak – that is, they sought to suppress the sense of guilt and conscience they felt. That is symbolised by the words “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Genesis 3:26).

But they could not escape the sense of guilt and conscience. Notwithstanding their attempts to justify their actions in terms of a natural response to the demands of their primitive instincts, the sense of guilt and conscience persisted, especially when they were no longer in a state of heightened passion that had originally provoked their disobedience to the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network. That is symbolised in Genesis 3:8 with these words: “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden.”

The “voice of the Lord God” symbolises the persistence of their guilty conscience.

The “cool of the day” symbolises reflection on their actions when they were no longer in the state of excited passion about the pleasure they anticipated by indulging in the contemplated action.

That they “hid themselves … amongst the trees of the Garden” symbolises them seeking to avoid the guilt they were feeling by justifying their action as a natural response to their primitive instincts.

Consequences of violating the neurological moral network

Of course, no matter how much they sought to suppress the sense of guilt they were unable to do so. And the consequences were dramatic, for the first of the human race to succumb to the temptation to defy the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network, and to their descendants, right up to the present day. Once the neurological moral network had been consciously activated it could not be de-activated. From that moment on, the human capacity to reason would be in constant tension with itself in discerning and choosing between the demands of their primitive instincts and the moral prescriptions of the neurological moral network.

This consequence is symbolised in this verse: “And I will put enmity between thee [the serpent/reason] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

The word “enmity” refers to the state of tension or opposition that had arisen between the demands of primitive instincts and the neurological moral network on the human capacity to reason.

The “serpent” represents the capacity to reason, and “the woman” represents the human will which is compelled to choose between the conflicting demands on reason to act in accordance with primitive instinct or the neurological moral network.

That the “enmity” will continue “between thy seed and her seed” symbolises the fact that this tension (“enmity”) would afflict the human capacity to reason in all the descendants of the first human beings who consciously activated the neurological moral network.

That “enmity” shall “bruise” the head of “the serpent”, and that “the serpent” shall “bruise” the heel of “enmity”, symbolises the conflict between the competing demands on reason. On most occasions, the demands of primitive instincts will prevail in this conflict and reason shall succumb (“it shall bruise thy head”); at other times, reason will resist and make the right decision (“thou shalt bruise his heel”).

But the consequence for the human condition is that they would be ruled thereafter by the pleasures and fears aroused by their primitive instincts. They would have to strenuously and consciously strive to hear the ‘voice’ of neurological moral network above the clamour of demands from their primitive instincts. The ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network had been silenced, unless they strove assiduously to discern it. Human beings would only hear dim rumblings. They had become morally deaf, blind and mute.

That is the symbolism of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden.[i] “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken” (Genesis 3:23).

And the next verse is particularly apt in respect of the ability of reason to conform itself to the demands of the neurological moral network once that network had been consciously activated: “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). Human beings would no longer enjoy the mental tranquillity of automatically and subconsciously living in conformity with the prescriptions of the neurological moral network. For reason to re-discover that tranquillity it would face considerable and almost insurmountable obstacles (“Cherubims and a flaming sword”) due to the overwhelming need for reason to devise ways to service the demands of primitive instinct. The “way of” naturally conforming to the moral law had been lost. That is symbolised by the words “to keep the WAY OF the tree of life”; that is, the way of reason in conformity with the neurological moral network.

Why compliance with the prescriptions of the neurological moral network is significant is dealt with under the sub-headings “Mind/Body Debate” and “Mind/Soul Debate” in the article titled “Addressing some contemporary issues between science, philosophy and religion.”

This interpretation is also important in understanding the intricate connection between the origins of religion and justice. I shall be addressing that issue in the next article.

——————————————————————-

Bibliography

McMillan, J. B., 2016. Science in Genesis Chapter 2. [Online]
Available at: http://wp.me/p5izWu-95

McMillan, J. B., 2017. Addressing some contemporary issues between science, philosophy and religion.. [Online]
Available at: http://wp.me/p5izWu-bC

Philo, 2015. On the Creation. [Online]
Available at: http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text/philo/book1.html

 

[i] Adam had by then called “the woman Eve, because “she was the mother of all living” – Genesis 3:20

The Reason Delusion: The Dark Side of the Enlightenment

Invoking reason in support of an argument is like banging on the table.[i]

Those who invoke ‘reason’ are essentially asserting that ‘if you ‘reason’ in the right way, then you’ll agree with them; if you don’t agree with them, that ‘proves’ that you haven’t ‘reasoned’ in the right way.’

The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment is claimed to have ushered in the ‘age of reason’. And to give credit where it’s due, it did bring some relief to the plight of many people. It also fed the appetite for revolution against the authority of self-appointed political and religious rulers. But there was a dark side of the Enlightenment which remains to this day.

There were essentially two broad philosophical camps in this ‘new’ way of ‘thinking’. The first claimed that knowledge could be attained when reason is applied to our experiences in life as they are processed through our physical senses. In philosophical-speak, this was called ‘empiricism’. Basically it means that we make it up as we go along.

The other camp claimed that the application of ‘reason’ alone was sufficient to acquire knowledge, because knowledge was an innate attribute of human beings. But unlike Buddhism, for example, they could not explain the precise mental technique to be applied in order to access this knowledge, other than the application of ‘reason,’ of course. These were called the ‘rationalists’.

Utilitarianism

Along with the Enlightenment there was a parallel ‘philosophy’ developing across the sea in England, also claimed to be rooted in the application of reason. It was championed by that most pernicious of philosophers, a certain Jeremy Bentham. Bentham claimed to have made the revolutionary ‘discovery’ that human beings prefer pleasure to pain. So he devised a ‘philosophy’ centered on maximizing pleasure and avoiding pain. This became known as Utilitarianism.

Immanuel Kant – the Hybrid Philosophy

Immanuel Kant, probably one of the few philosophers the average person could identify if asked to name a philosopher, blended these various camps to create a hybrid philosophy. Essentially he claimed that ‘practical reason’ makes known to human beings a ‘moral law’ which, when violated, ‘makes even the boldest sinner tremble.’ But he couldn’t identify what this ‘moral law’ was. So he simply asserted that it was ‘presented to us for our obedience.’ But that did not mean that we shouldn’t also seek pleasure and avoid pain. We only need to curtail our appetite for pleasure when it offends the ‘moral law’. That’s what ‘practical reason’ tells us.

The Reason Delusion

Now all these philosophers got so ‘puffed up with vanity’[ii] at their new discoveries that we could be forgiven for wondering whether they had invented some brand new way of thinking – by applying ‘reason’. Kant even discovered two distinct kinds of ‘reason’ – ‘pure reason’ and ‘practical reason’.

‘Reason’ thus became the new religion. Instead of invoking the authority of the divine or royal blood to impose their will and beliefs on others, the new ‘rationalists’ invoke their superior ability to ‘reason’. ‘Reason’ is the rhetorical weapon wielded to belittle those who disagree with them.

But the fact is, ‘reason’ on its own account tells us nothing.

The Human Brain

The human brain comprises three broad faculties, each made up of neurological networks – instinct, morality and reason.

Humans share most of the primitive instincts possessed by animals, such as the instincts for reproduction, survival and security. But they also have a number of peculiarly human instincts, such as the instinct to understand how the world works. This latter instinct improves the human ability to service the more primitive carnal instincts. For example, knowing how to cast iron helped humans to hunt better, and to better dispose of perceived threats.

Pleasure and Pain

All these human instincts are activated by the prospect of pleasure, or the fear of pain. And that’s where ‘reason’ comes in. When some or other instinct dangles before ‘reason’ the promise of pleasure, or the risk of pain, ‘reason’ springs into action. It devises ways to maximize pleasure, and eliminate, so far as possible, the risk of suffering pain.

Animals do the same, of course. But here is the difference. Once animals have satisfied the urge for pleasure or eliminated a perceived threat, they move on. Not humans. With their enhanced capacity to ‘reason’, they devise all manner of mischief to service their insatiable appetite for pleasure, and to eliminate even the remotest threat to their survival, security, or indulgence in pleasure.

‘Reason’ in the service of primitive human instinct has caused human beings to inflict the most unspeakable atrocities, degradations and humiliations upon their fellow human beings, mostly without a hint of remorse. It accounts for war, betrayal, slavery, poverty, starvation, genocide, child abuse, greed, deceit, murder. In short, it accounts for everything we call evil. And we find it everywhere, from the playground to the corridors of power; and especially in the corridors of power.

The Moral Network

But there is hope. And that hope comes in the form of a moral network within the human brain. The moral network acts as a restraint on instinct by appealing for an audience with ‘reason’. If granted a hearing, the moral network counsels ‘reason’ to resist over-indulging the demands of our primitive instincts. It can even counsel suppressing primitive instinct entirely by renouncing pleasure and courting pain. But that’s for the saints.

For the rest of us, activating the neurological moral network on a sufficiently wide scale is the only real hope for the future. But it will require a supreme effort, because catering to the demands of our primitive instincts has become a twisted kind of ‘virtue’.

Modern Context

There are encouraging signs, however. There are signs that people are beginning to see through the fog of deception. They are beginning to recognize that ‘reason’ is not the preserve of a select few. And they are beginning to realize that ‘reason’ is not some ‘supernatural’ force that can elevate human beings to new heights of ‘enlightenment’ and ‘civilization’. They are becoming wise to the ‘reason delusion’.

What is really happening is that the neurological moral network is awakening in many people. And that awakening directly challenges the cozy alliance between ‘reason’ and instinct. The internal struggle within each of us to escape from bondage to our primitive instincts is also playing out in the political and economic arena as a struggle by the people to escape from bondage to political and corporate servitude.

In every sense, it is becoming a battle between good and evil. Perhaps it is even nearing the final battle. The outcome will determine the future of humanity. But we should be in no doubt that the forces of ‘reason’ in service to primitive instinct will stop at nothing to get their way. The dark side of the Enlightenment has served them well, and they intend to hang on to it at any cost.

Now this may all sound very apocalyptic. But we should not underestimate the ‘irrationality’ of ‘reason’ in the service of primitive instinct. Neither should we underestimate the rage of a neurological moral network that has been deceived, abused and violated for too long.

The battle lines have been drawn. The first skirmishes are under way. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

Either way, it’s going to get very ugly.

******

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2016 All Rights Reserved.

Notes

[i] Adapted from the jurist Alf Ross on ‘justice’.

[ii] A description of scientists by Albert Schweitzer.

Can Freedom and Law coexist without God?

An understanding of the relationship between freedom and law is fundamental to any discourse about the existence of God.

The essence of freedom is that no one person, group of people, or institution, has any natural authority over any other person or group of people. That is self-evident; to assert otherwise is to claim that some are masters, and others slaves.

However, if no one human being can be subverted to the authority of another human being, how can we have such a concept as law? It is fatuous to resort to arguments about the ‘will of the majority’, or ‘fundamental human rights’, or the ‘social contract’ as an ‘authority for government’; they are simply devious mechanisms by which some seek to impose their authority on others.

That leads to the inescapable premise that freedom cannot recognize as law the commands and doctrines of other human beings.

Yet, we do recognize the concept of law as operating to define the limits of freedom. We recognize that there are right and wrong actions.

That leads to the second inescapable premise – that freedom and law can only coexist under the auspices of a Supreme Law. Freedom can only recognize as law that which is universal, and applies equally to each and every human being alike, in the same way that the laws of physics apply to everyone everywhere, without distinction or favour. And like the laws of physics, such a law cannot emanate from another human being.

But does such a supreme law presuppose a supreme lawmaker?

Although physicists would argue that a supreme law does not require a supreme lawmaker, they devote a great deal of time and effort seeking a ‘theory of everything’, or a ‘final theory’. That is really a search for a supreme lawmaker – a fundamental set of principles, or perhaps even a single principle, from which all other laws flow. The question is whether such a supreme lawmaker could simply be an impersonal mathematical construct, or whether it is a conscious Being.

We cannot discover which it is by examining the minutiae of the building blocks of the universe; we need to consider what was built, and why.

If we want to know the intended purpose of a factory, we need to see what final product is produced. So far as we presently know, the final product of the cosmic factory that is the universe is a human organism endowed with a capacity for moral judgment. In that sense, human beings are a conscious manifestation of the fundamental laws of physics, and they give expression to their capacity for moral judgment in the search for justice.

Legal codes going back to Hammurabi, Moses and Asoka, testify to that.

The common underlying principles of such codes, and the recognition in each that those principles emanate from a supra-human authority, tell us that the authors ‘saw’ with stark clarity that freedom and law can only coexist under the auspices of a supreme lawmaker.

Modern systems of government and justice also reveal a recognition that a supreme law requires a supreme lawmaker. The grand structures housing our executive, legislative and judicial ‘authorities’, and their procedural ‘rituals’, are designed to create the impression of a supra-human authority as the foundation of supra-human systems of law and justice. It’s an illusion, of course, and mostly corrupted by those who believe themselves to be ‘gods’.

Yet, even such systems, corrupted as they may be, reflect a basic human condition that refuses to recognize the commands and doctrines of other human beings as legitimate authority to limit freedom. The human condition demands a supreme lawmaker as the only legitimate authority to define and limit human freedom.

Modern neuroscience can now tell us why that is. It is a consequence of a neurological moral network within the human brain. And that network is a manifestation and image of the moral dimension of the fundamental laws of physics.

But the neurological moral network is in fierce competition with primitive human instincts. The instincts for survival, security and reproduction, instincts that are fired by the prospect of pleasure and the fear of pain and death, seek protection and sanctuary in the herd. Herd instinct has compelled us to surrender our freedom to an ever more oppressive global corporate tyranny under which we are nothing more than economic units in service to the financial interests of a select few. Our productivity has become the only measure of our worth.

The challenge now facing the human race, as it has been throughout the ages, is to free ourselves from bondage to our primitive instincts, and exert ourselves to activate the neurological moral network that lives within us all. Only such a supreme effort can bring about a new dawn of civilization in which every human being is free from the commands and doctrines of other human beings, yet living under a system of universally recognized principles. Only such a reconciliation of freedom and law can ensure respect for the worth and dignity of each and every human being.

The neurological moral network tells us that such a reconciliation between freedom and law requires a supreme lawmaker as the author of a supreme law; it requires God. Anything less makes some masters, and others slaves. And that is tyranny.

******

This article is based on the theme of Joseph BH McMillan’s latest book, A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2016 All Rights Reserved

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part XI-B): The Garden of Eden as an account of the formation of the human brain

When I first realized that the story of the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve, was an account of the formation and functioning of the human brain, the rest of the Scriptures made a whole lot more sense – everything from the creation and revelation, to the Kingdom of God.

The apparent inconsistencies and contradictions inherent in current Christian theology evaporated, especially the problem of the eschatological notion of the Kingdom of God (Schweitzer 1914).

This article shows how the allegorical explanation of the human brain in the story of the Garden of Eden conforms perfectly with the neuroscientific understanding of the functioning of the human brain outlined in the previous article (Part XI-A).

Genesis 1 as a reductionist account of the origins of the universe and life

Parts II to IX of these articles demonstrated how the interpretations of the creation story, primarily from two Jewish scholars, Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD) and Philo Judaeus of Alexandria (who lived at about the time of Jesus), accurately reflected the current scientific understanding of the origin of the universe and life.

In respect of Genesis chapter 1, Parts II to VII adopted the reductionist interpretation advanced by Nahmanides, best exemplified by his description of the creation of man:

The correct simple meaning of the word, ‘let us make,’ is that which you have already been shown, to know (above, verse 1) that God created something from nothing on the first day alone, and afterwards He formed and made [everything] from the fundamental elements.” (Nahmanides 2015, on 1:26).

However, we departed from Nahmanides’ interpretation with regard to what actually existed after the six ‘days’ of creation. In that respect, Part VIII adopted Philo’s explanation that Genesis 2:4-5 should be interpreted to mean that nothing existed in the form we would recognize as life, such as plants, trees, animals or humans, after the six ‘days’ (Philo 2015, XLIV (129 – 130)). The methodology of Genesis 1 precludes it.

Applying the strict methodology of the first chapter of Genesis, we adopted an interpretation of the account of the ‘creation’ of “man” (Genesis 1:26-30) as a physicalist and reductive explanation of the three principal faculties of the human brain.

  • The “image of God” symbolizes the ‘programming’ of primitive human DNA with a neurological moral network.
  • The ‘programming’ of primitive human DNA with a capacity to reason is symbolized by God ‘speaking’ to the male and female He had just created.
  • ‘Programming’ primitive human DNA with instincts is symbolized by what God says to the newly created human beings. “Be fruitful and multiply” represents the instinct to reproduce; “replenish the earth” symbolizes the instinct for survival and security, and the instinct to nurture and protect our offspring in order to perpetuate the species; “subdue the earth and have dominion” symbolizes the human instinct to subdue and control our environment, but regrettably, not excluding others of the species, which translates into an instinct to conquer; God explaining what He had given to the human beings for their survival and benefit, and what He had given to the “beasts of the earth,” symbolizes primitive human DNA being ‘programmed’ with a knowledge of how the physical world functions, and an instinct to pursue that knowledge.

This ‘programming’ of human DNA with instinct is central to the question of good and evil. Since ‘evil’ is reason in the service of primitive human instinct, yet primitive instinct is a necessary requirement for survival, and not in itself ‘evil’, God does not create ‘evil’.

The previous articles demonstrated that these various faculties of the human brain are a product of the physical laws that created and sustain the universe (both the quantum and Classical (Newtonian) laws), but also an “image” of those laws. In that respect, we adopted Philo’s interpretation of the “image of God”:

The mind which exists in each individual has been created after the likeness of that one mind which is in the universe as its primitive model” (Philo 2015, XXIII (69)).

But as we saw in Part VIII, if the human mind, as an ‘image’ of the “mind of the universe,” is conscious, then the “mind of the universe” must also be conscious. That would resolve the scientific dilemma of how the “fundamental laws of quantum physics morph into the Classical (Newtonian) laws” (see Greene 2005,199, and Weinberg 1994,84). The observation necessary to effect the transformation is made by a conscious universe. The words “And God saw” at each crucial stage of the creation of the universe refer to the conscious universe effecting the observation. However, as mentioned in the previous article, that does not mean that God is redundant. The question remains as to how the initial matter in the universe, from which everything else was to be created, was itself transformed from being subject to quantum laws to being governed by the Classical laws that give the universe consciousness. It seems that the “spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2) moving across the waters must symbolize an initial observation, or action, by God, which created and ‘programmed’ the original matter and space (subject to quantum laws) with the laws that created the conscious “mind of the universe.”

However, the evidence suggests that all the faculties of the human brain constitute an ‘image’ of the laws that govern the universe, whereas the “image of God” specifically symbolizes the neurological moral network only.

The previous articles cited the scientific evidence that supports this reductive explanation of the ‘creation ’of primitive DNA, which has the necessary properties to transform into the various life-forms we see all around us, including the primitive DNA that created the human brain with these three distinct faculties. Part A adduced the neurological evidence of those neurological faculties.

The evidence thus supports Philo’s version of Genesis, which argues that nothing existed after the six ‘days’ in the form that we would recognize as life. All that existed was the primitive DNA that was ‘programmed’ to develop into the various life-forms that would inhabit the Earth. Research showing that what geneticists previously thought of as “junk DNA” actually consists of genetic “switches” that activate dormant genes, or ‘program’ spare genes, lends further support for Philo’s interpretation (Zimmer 2014).

Philo described Genesis 2:4-5 as follows:

Does [Moses] not here manifestly set before us incorporeal ideas perceptible only by the intellect, which have been appointed to be as seals of the perfected works, perceptible by the outward senses. For before the earth was green, he says that this same thing, verdure, existed in the nature of things, and before the grass sprang up in the field, there was grass though it was not visible. And we must understand in the case of everything else which is decided on by the external senses, there were elder forms and motions previously existing, according to which the things which were created were fashioned and measured out” (Philo 2015, XLIV (129-130)).

One, or Two, Creation stories?

Previous articles thus adopted the position that Genesis 2 and 3 are a continuation of Genesis 1.

Genesis 1 is an account of the creation of the physical laws that determined how the universe and life would function in order to achieve the intended purpose, while Genesis 2 and 3 are an anthropological account of the development of man from the initial primitive DNA into modern human beings.

In Genesis 1, God’s actions (the words “And God said/saw”) refer to the conscious “mind of the universe” implementing the laws that would govern and sustain the universe and life by way of observation, while references to God taking actions in Genesis 2 and 3 refer to the laws that had been established by the conscious “mind of the universe” beginning to operate in order to give effect to the intended purpose and destiny of the creation.

On that basis, at the end of the six ‘days’ (or seven if we count the ‘resting day’), the Earth existed only in a pre-liquid water form, although all the primitive DNA necessary to create a large variety of life was present but dormant. That is confirmed by the words that follow the statement that grass etc had been created, but was not present – “for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth” (Genesis 2:5).

Then, when the Earth had cooled sufficiently, water appeared: “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground” (Genesis 2:6).

Liquid water provided the right environment for the dormant DNA to begin to develop. Over time, the DNA that was ‘programmed’ to become human began to form, going through various stages. The symbolism of God breathing life into man to make him a “living soul” suggests that the soul is a function of the physical brain (see below).

The Garden of Eden as the formation of the human brain

In Part VIII, we saw that the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-14) symbolizes the formation of the human brain.

The “trees” that are “made to grow” perfectly correspond to the various neurological faculties. Those that are “pleasant to the sight, and good for food” refer to the network of instincts in the brain. Referring to these trees as being “pleasant” and “good for food” relate to the way these instincts are activated – the prospect of pleasure or the fear of pain.

The “tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the neurological moral network.

The “tree of life” refers to the reason network, which is the network that creates the mind and soul. The “man” was not prohibited from eating of this tree because, while the neurological moral network is only subconsciously activated, the mind is automatically structured for survival; the “man” automatically ‘obeys’ the impulses received from it. Only once the neurological moral network is consciously activated does a positive and conscious effort become necessary to structure the reason network in such a way as to ensure the survival of the mind as a conscious ‘living’ soul after physical death.

The river that flows out of Eden “to water the garden” (Genesis 2:10) clearly refers to the nervous system which supplies the brain with the information it needs in order to function. In A River out of Eden, obviously a ridicule of this verse, Richard Dawkins charts a “river of DNA” that eventually resulted in human DNA through a series of mutations (Dawkins 2014). Dawkins’ “river of DNA” is an account of the development of human DNA from the initial primitive DNA to modern man, whereas The Garden of Eden is actually describing the initial primitive DNA after it had formed into human DNA but which, at this point, was still dormant. That is symbolized by God putting the man into the garden the first time (Genesis 2:8).

The second time the man is put into the Garden, he is put there to “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). The first time he was just put there. The reason is that the first time symbolizes human DNA having appeared in the first of what would become the human species, but which was still dormant. These human beings would have had fully formed brains that would be recognizable as human, but would still have acted entirely on their primitive instincts, much as their primate ‘relatives’ would have done.

The second time man is put into the Garden symbolizes the first human being in whom the neurological moral network became subconsciously active. That is symbolized by the verse which immediately follows “man” having been put into the Garden the second time: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).

In the original Hebrew, the words translated as “thou mayest freely eat,” and “thou shalt surely die,” are actually “eating thou shalt eat,” and “dying thou shalt die,” respectively. And that is important in respect of the symbolism in Genesis 2 and 3.

The symbolism of God commanding the man relates to the subconscious activation of the neurological moral network in the first human being/s who experienced it, and the effect it had on them. The recent discovery of Naledi man in South Africa may well be the remains of these first human beings with fully functioning neurological moral networks (Barras 2015). As Lee Berger, the head of the team that discovered Naledi man said, the fact that they buried their dead indicates “that naledi individuals recognised their own mortality and the other self that comes with death.” If that is the case, it would support the argument that the activation of the neurological moral network, even subconsciously, has the effect of causing a consciousness of mortality, and thus a consciousness of existing.

The original wording in Genesis 2:16-17 symbolizes that neurological event. Until that moment, human beings with still dormant neurological moral networks would have hunted, gathered and consumed on a day to day basis for survival. They would not have had the capacity or inclination to do otherwise. But once the neurological moral network was subconsciously activated, along with the other peculiarly human instincts (to conquer and seek knowledge), it also caused an enhanced capacity to reason in order to service those instincts. That means that these first human beings would have been tempted to cater to the demands from their instincts, for example, to seek greater security by appropriating to themselves more than they required for day to day survival. Their enhanced capacity for reason would also have been susceptible to the temptation to indulge their primitive instincts in excess, solely for the purpose of enjoying the pleasure of doing so.

However, the neurological moral network would have subconsciously caused them to refrain from doing so because they knew it was wrong. The words “eating thou shalt eat” symbolizes the moral imperative, dictated by the neurological moral network, that they should not appropriate to themselves in excess of what they could consume, especially not to the detriment of other life, or their environment. Neither should they kill other life unless it was absolutely necessary for their survival, and never in excess, or for the purpose of indulging their appetite for pleasure beyond the requirements of survival, or to allay their fear of pain.

The command that the man should not eat of “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” or in “dying [he would] die,” symbolizes the effect caused by the subconscious activation of the neurological moral network. These first human beings became aware that certain actions were wrong even though no other human being had declared such actions to be wrong, and there was no authority to impose a consequence for committing such acts. Moreover, with this newly acquired knowledge, they would have noted that many of the actions of the very species from which they had emerged were wrong, yet there were no consequences to them for indulging in such behavior.

The effect of the subconscious activation of the neurological moral network was to compel them to recognize that the consequences would be imposed at some time other than during their lifetime, and the only other time could be after death. That would have caused an awareness of their own mortality, thus also causing a consciousness of being alive.

Genesis 2:18 to 25 records how the newly activated neurological moral network began to direct human behavior, and ultimately, human destiny.

Verses 18-20 imply that the activation of the neurological moral network occurred in one, or a number of individuals, who were isolated from one another, hence the reference to “the man” being alone. But this does not mean that each of them was physically alone. They would have been the offspring of members of the group or tribe from which they emerged. As Philo says, “all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus” (Philo 2015, XXIV (76)). This first “man” was thus the first to assume the “distinctive [human] form.”

These first human beings would have recognized that they were different to the species from which they had emerged.

The reason that it was “not good that the man should be alone” is that his instinct was to reproduce, but there wouldn’t have been a female of the species with fully ‘matured’ human DNA to reproduce with. Genesis suggests that this search for a mate activated other elements of his brain. The words “I will make him an help meet for him” symbolizes the activation of the ability to reason at a higher level, compelling this first human to examine the life around him in the hope of finding another living thing like him with whom he could reproduce. However, by examining the various different species around him, this first human activated another latent characteristic of the brain – the language module. Adam started ascribing names to the animals.

But Adam’s search for a mate proved futile: “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:20). So it seems that this first of the human species must have settled for a mate from one of the more primitive species from which he had emerged, even though she would have been a different ‘species’ in some major respects. As a consequence, his fully ‘programmed’ human DNA must have again become dormant: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof” (Genesis 2:21).

The symbolism of “Adam” going into a deep sleep suggests that the fully formed human DNA he was carrying around probably passed through several generations while remaining dormant. So a number of the pre-human species may well have had this dormant DNA. Then the dormant DNA must have been activated in both a male and female at the same time, and in close physical proximity. And immediately they recognized each other as being different to the species around them, and virtual mirror-images of each other, except one was male and the other female. As Philo may have said, they would have “beheld” each other “as in a mirror” (Philo 2015, XXIV (76)).

However, at this stage, these early humans had not consciously activated the neurological moral network, so there would have been an innocence about them. They would have lived harmoniously with nature, and others like them. They would not have fenced-off portions of the Earth to claim as their own. They would not have sought to quell their insecurities and fears by building walls around themselves. They would not have sought security in subjugating others to their control and power. They did not even need clothes to display their vanity or to prevent lusting after each other’s bodies – they did not lust, because they knew it was wrong: “They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).

They would not have been in need of laws, because they knew the law. They would have known that making their own laws would simply be a ruse to violate the universal law which applied to everything and everybody.

That, suggests Genesis, was the state of the human race before primitive human instincts got the better of some.

The San people of Southern Africa, also known as Bushmen, who are the direct descendants of these first human beings who never consciously activated their neurological moral network, are living testimony to this interpretation of Genesis 2.

Anthropologists and geneticists identify some of these peoples as the ancestors of all human beings, although perhaps the rest of us are the descendants of that part of the species that went astray, and they are the descendants of those who did not. A recent extensive study supports that position (Choi 2012). Other research into the San people’s culture and beliefs provides evidence that they respond automatically to the impulses of the neurological moral network, so they don’t need courts of law and systems of justice (See Brody 2000 and Lewis-Williams 2004 & 2015). Reason is not in the service of their primitive instincts, so their minds, and thus their souls, are automatically structured on the neurological moral network (Lewis-Williams 2010).

The San should be contrasted with that branch of the species that did activate their neurological moral networks. That is addressed in Genesis 3.

Activation of the neurological moral network – ‘original sin’

As we saw in Part IX, the reason it was wrong to acquire “the knowledge of good and evil” is that to awaken the neurological moral network, some action had to be taken which offended against it. According to Genesis, that action related to pleasure – “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise …” (Genesis 3:6). All the emphasized words relate to pleasure, and pleasure relates to instinct (Philo 2015, LVI (160)).

The story of “the woman’s” temptation clearly refers to the interaction between the morality, instinct and reason networks. The serpent represents the instinct for reproduction. The symbolism of the serpent ‘speaking’ relates to the allure of pleasure to be had by indulging the instinct for reproduction. And “the woman” seeing the attractions of the tree symbolizes the application of reason to justify taking actions that she ‘knew’ were wrong.

The prohibition against eating of the tree symbolizes the neurological moral network within the brain that ‘speaks’ to us of the morality of our actions, and acts as a restraint to actions which offend against it.

When the first humans succumbed to the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instinct for reproduction, the neurological moral network was fully activated. This is symbolized by the words “and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). Genesis then tells us that once the neurological moral network had been consciously activated, it gave rise to a sense of guilt. Adam and “the woman” are then said to have done what people do to this day in order to justify their actions; they “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden” (Genesis 3:8). They attempted to escape the guilt aroused by their actions by seeking justification in their primitive instincts; in “the trees of the garden.” They ‘reason’ their way to a justification by attempting to convince themselves that they should not feel guilty because what they did was perfectly natural – just like the animals around them.

But the guilt could not be easily assuaged, so reason seeks to divert the blame – Adam blamed “the woman,” and “the woman” blamed the serpent. In ‘excusing’ her behavior by claiming that “the serpent beguiled” her, “the woman” defends her actions by ‘reasoning’ that the attractions of the pleasures she imagined could be had by indulging her primitive instincts were simply a ‘natural’ response to a ‘natural’ desire. But attempting to excuse their actions failed to silence their consciences.

Once they had crossed the moral threshold, no longer did they simply respond to an intuitive restraint to their actions from the neurological moral network. They had acquired an ability to identify specific actions as right or wrong. Yet, they were seduced by the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instincts, and could apply reason to justify doing so.

The ‘punishment’ said to have been inflicted on Adam clearly relates to human beings falling into bondage to their primitive instincts. From then on, human beings would be driven to provide for their survival and security by relentless toil. The instincts for survival and security generate a fear of being unable to provide for themselves, and a fear of anything and anyone perceived to be a threat.

The previous mental tranquility of intuitively refraining from actions because they knew they were wrong, was replaced with an obsessive preoccupation with the pleasures and fears aroused by those instincts.

The expulsion from the Garden of Eden to prevent “man” from eating of the “tree of life” symbolizes the effect of the neurological moral network being consciously activated. No longer is the faculty of reason, and thus the mind, automatically structured as an ‘image’ of the neurological moral network. In order to structure the mind to reflect the structure of the neurological moral network, we have to actively and consciously seek to do so.

Re-connecting to the neurological moral network – seeking the Kingdom of God

Other parts of the Scriptures perfectly support this interpretation, as does the way in which the Scriptures advocate providing for the ‘survival’ of the soul.

Many passages in the Scriptures lend support to the argument that the neurological moral network is the ‘vehicle’ through which human beings come to know God, and can provide for the survival of the mind as a conscious, ‘living’ soul after physical death.

Jesus said that “the Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17: 20 & 21).

Deuteronomy says a similar thing regarding the Law: For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deuteronomy 30: 11 – 14).

The parable of the mustard seed likens the Kingdom of God (or heaven) to a tree, which closely resembles neurological networks: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof” (see Mat 13: 31, 32; Mark 4: 30; Luke 13: 18).

That verse, and others (Mat 13: 33; Luke 13: 20), portray the Kingdom of God as something that starts out tiny and has to be nurtured in order to grow into a vehicle to survive physical death. But we need to seek it to find it:  “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to thee” (Mat 6: 33; Luke 12: 31). Furthermore, Kingdom of God is something we discover during our lifetimes (Mat 7:13 & 14; 13: 39), and if we ask for it and seek it, we can find it (Mat 7: 7; Luke 11: 9), but we should be aware of the dangers of servicing our primitive human instincts: “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Mat 13:22).

The references to being “born again” at John 3:3-13 relate to the activation of the neurological moral network, especially verses 6 and 8. The description at verse 8 refers to the “voice” of the demands of the morality network. These verses suggest that even if reason is in ‘bondage’ to the demands of human instincts (the instinct networks), it can still be activated (“born again”) in order to ensure that the mind is structured so as to survive physical death (to “enter into the kingdom of God”).

Jesus warns of the consequences of servicing our instincts, even if it is ‘profitable.’ He asks, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mat 16: 26). Proverbs issues the same warning: “For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.  But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Proverbs 8: 35 & 36).

The Bible closes with the same theme of providing for the survival of soul following physical death: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelations 22: 14). We “do his commandments” when reason is in service of the neurological moral network, which has the effect of structuring the mind to survive physical death as a ‘living’ soul.

However, although servicing the neurological moral network has implications for each person in respect to the soul, if there is a God, then it is also likely to be the mechanism through which God chose to reveal to us His purpose for the universe and humanity. Servicing the neurological moral network is how human beings can collectively realize that purpose. That is the objective of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Mat 6: 10).

Conclusion

The story of the Garden of Eden only makes any sense when it is understood to relate to the formation of the human brain. But more compelling is that such an understanding of the story conforms in every respect to the current neuroscientific understanding of the functioning of the brain.

However, this does present some problems for current Christian theology. Current theology will find it increasingly difficult to find accommodation with science if it insists on holding to current doctrines. Unless it can bring itself to re-asses those doctrines, it will render itself increasingly irrelevant.

Unfortunately, there are many vested interests at stake. But that cannot stand in the way of each person deciding for him or herself what the Scriptures mean. Such ‘rebellion’ against the institutionalization of God was in fact the initial cause for the Scriptures, going back to Abraham. The prophets condemned the rituals of their times (see Isaiah 1:10-15 and Jeremiah 2:8-13). And Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mat 15:9).

Perhaps we should ask ourselves whether we may just be doing the same?

———————————————————

Joseph BH McMillan     http://josephbhmcmillan.com

This article is based on the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan

Bibliography

Barras, Colin. 2015. “New species of extinct human found in cave may rewrite history.” New Scientist. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730383-700-new-species-extinct-human-found-in-cave-may-rewrite-history/.

Brody, H. 2000. The Other Side of Eden: Hunter-gatherers, farmers and the shaping of the world. London: Faber and Faber.

Choi, Charles Q. 2012. “African Hunter-Gatherers Are Offshoots of Earliest Human Split.” Live Science. September 12. http://www.livescience.com/23378-african-hunter-gatherers-human-origins.html.

Dawkins, Richard. 2014. A River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (SCIENCE MASTERS). Weidenfeld & Nicolson; Reissued 2001 edition .

Greene, Brian. 2005. The fabric of the cosmos. Penguin.

Lewis-Williams, David and Sam Challis. 2011. Deciphering Ancient Minds: The Mystery of San Bushman Rock Art. Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Lewis-Williams, David. 2010. Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion. Thames & Hudson.

—. 2004. San Spirituality: Roots, Expression, and Social Consequences. AltaMira Press.

Lewis-Williams, JD. 2015. Myth and Meaning: San-Bushman Folklore in Global Context. Left Coast Press.

Nahmanides. 2015. “Ramban on Genesis.” Seferia.org. http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.26?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all.

Philo. 2015. “On the Creation.” EarlyJewishWritings.com. http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text/philo/book1.html.

Schweitzer, Albert. 1914. The Mystery of the Kingdom of God. New York: prometheus Books (1985).

Weinberg, Steven. 1994. Dreams of a Final Theory. 1. New York: Vintage Books.

Zimmer, Carl. 2014. “The Case for Junk DNA.” National Geographic. September 5. http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/05/09/the-case-for-junk-dna/.

 

 

Demystifying Mysticism

Einstein famously said that “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.[1]  The former Royal Astronomer of Britain, Martin Rees, says that Einstein was “expressing his amazement that the laws of physics, which our MINDS ARE SOMEHOW ATTUNED TO UNDERSTAND, apply not just here on Earth but also in the remotest galaxy.”[2]

But should it be so “incomprehensible” that the human mind is “somehow attuned to understand” the laws that govern the universe?

Broadly speaking, there are currently two alternative explanations for this curious ability. Either the human mind is entirely explicable by its physical make-up and its interaction with the environment through the senses, or there is an inexplicable element to the mind that gives it a metaphysical, or even mystical, character.

The former view is that of many physicists who hold that the principles that determine the behavior of fundamental particles determine the functioning of everything else in the universe, including the human brain. I include in this view those who argue that the chemistry of the neurological structure of the brain has a ‘life of its own’ that is ‘independent’ of the principles of the fundamental particles that make up its physical structure. There isn’t really any distinction between these views because in the last analysis they both perceive the functioning of the brain to be a consequence of its physiology.

The contrary view is that there is more to the human mind than the physical structure of the brain and its interaction with the environment. This view is exemplified by Immanuel Kant who said that “The moral law, although it gives no view, yet gives us a fact absolutely inexplicable from any data of the sensible world, and the whole compass of our theoretical use of reason, a fact which points to a pure world of the understanding, … and enables us to know something of it, namely, a law.”[3] This “moral law,” says Kant, is simply “presented for our obedience by practical reason, the voice of which makes even the boldest sinner tremble …”[4] Kant’s view is a mystical or metaphysical view. In religion it is called spirituality.

Although these views may seem incompatible at first, they are in fact simply different facets of the same phenomenon. Ironically, Friedrich Nietzsche inadvertently identified the mystical as a facet of the physical, and vice versa, when he mocked Kant for having “discovered a moral faculty in man.”[5]

In order to understand how that works, we need to go back to the Beginning, to the origin of the universe. Both science and the Scriptures recognize that an explanation for the universe and life, and consequently the structure and functioning of the human brain, is to be found in the origin of the universe itself.

A Final Theory – the scientists’ view

The physicist Steven Weinberg says that although DNA is too complex to be explained with current quantum mechanical equations, he maintains that with a sufficiently sophisticated computer, scientists could explain all the workings of DNA “by solving the equations of quantum mechanics for electrons and the nuclei of a few common elements.”[6]

Likewise, Martin Rees says that it is the principles, or properties, of fundamental particles, “their sizes and masses, how many different kinds there are, and the forces linking them together,” that dictate how everything in the universe functions, from planets and stars to chemical reactions and human beings. And this is all a result of “an expanding universe, WHOSE PROPERTIES WERE IMPRINTED INTO IT AT THE TIME OF THE INITIAL BIG BANG.”[7] According to Rees, “mathematical laws underpin the fabric of our universe.”[8]

This approach is known in science as reductionism[9]. Weinberg, for example, says that the “evolution of living things has been made possible by the properties of DNA and other molecules and that the properties of any molecule are what they are because of the properties of electrons and atomic nuclei and electric forces.[10] He goes on to say that physicists study fundamental particles “because we think that by studying [them] we will learn something about the principles that govern everything.”

Although this approach does not dispute that certain mental faculties and processes may determine aspects of human behavior, it argues that those faculties and processes are what they are as a consequence of the principles that determine the properties of fundamental particles. As Weinberg says, “we believe that atoms behave the way they do in chemical reactions because the physical PRINCIPLES that govern the electrons and electric forces inside atoms leave NO FREEDOM for the atoms to behave in any other way.[11]

By identifying these fundamental principles, physicists believe they could construct a Final Theory that will explain everything about the universe and life. This is also known as a Theory of Everything, and by definition such a theory would necessarily include an explanation for what we regard as the mystical. More importantly, this view also claims that a Final Theory would definitively settle the question of whether or not there is such a thing as God.

The problem with the reductionist approach is that it is morally ambivalent. Morality is simply a neurological response to certain environmental and social conditions.

In his book The First Three Minutes, Weinberg said that “the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”[12] In an attempt to deflect the criticism his remark attracted, Weinberg ‘clarified’ that statement in his next book, Dreams of a Final Theory, by saying that he “did not mean that science teaches us that the universe is pointless, but rather that the universe itself suggests no point. I hastened to add that there were ways that we ourselves could INVENT a point to our lives, including trying to understand the universe.”[13]

In other words, Weinberg suggests that we can “invent” some point to our lives by dedicating our lives to proving that there is no point to life. That sounds like ‘a Final Theory of Despair,’ in which the only purpose to human existence is the pursuit of vanity and the satisfaction of our physical desires.

This very ‘physicalist’ approach fails to recognize that the human capacity for moral judgment, which expresses itself in the establishment of systems of government and justice, may be a manifestation of a more profound dimension of the physical laws that govern the universe – a moral dimension,[14] rather than a neurological accommodation to physical conditions.

Kant recognized the nihilistic tendencies of such an approach when he said that “[man] is not so completely an animal as to be indifferent to what reason says on its own account, and to use it merely as an instrument for the satisfaction of his wants as a sensible [sensual] being. For the possession of reason would not raise his worth above that of the brutes, if it is to serve him only for the same purpose that instinct serves in them; it would in that case be only a particular method which nature had employed to equip man for the same ends for which it has qualified brutes, without qualifying him for any higher purpose.”[15]

Although Kant was wrong that reason can tell us anything “on its own account”, and it is used by most people as a means to satisfy their wants as sensual beings, it is Kant’s recognition of a distinction between the human capacity for moral judgment, and the servicing of our primitive instincts, that is crucial to understanding the ‘mystical’ in human existence.

The Scriptural view – a seed to a tree to a seed

Jewish scholars and philosophers have long recognized this distinction, as did Jesus. And they found it in the same place that physicists look to unlock the ‘secrets’ of the universe and life – The Beginning.

In his Commentary on Genesis 1:1, the Jewish scholar Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD), says this: – “He [God] brought out a very fine element from complete nothingness; it has no substance, but it is the energy that can create, that is able to accept a form and to go from the potential to the actual. And this is the first material [and] is called hyle by the Greeks. And after hyle, He didn’t create anything, but [rather] formed and made [the creations]; since it is from it that He brought everything forth and clothed the forms and refined them. … Behold, with this creation, which was like a small [and] fine dot, and without substance, were created all of the creations in the heavens and the earth.”[16] Nahmanides included the creation of man as a subsequent creation from the original matter. On Genesis 1:24, he says “that God created something from nothing on the first day alone, and afterwards He formed and made [everything] from the fundamental elements.”

Nahmanides adopted a literal reading of Genesis, yet still described the origin of the universe and life in precisely the way science now understands it (except that he attributes it to God). That is because of the Hebrew meaning of the word “beginning”, which is reishit.[17] The word relates to the origin or beginning of a thing, like a seed, which then grows or expands into something much larger and grander, like a tree. Although the tree has no outward resemblance to the seed that ‘created’ it, the fruit that it yields contains a replica of the seed that initiated the whole process. The fruit is not some inconsequential by-product of the tree, but the very purpose of the tree’s existence. The fruit contains a seed that is an image of the seed that created it, and an image of the tree and the fruit that the seed is ‘programmed’ to create. The fruit of a tree is not itself a replica of the seed that created the tree, only the seed within the fruit is a replica. The flesh of the fruit hanging from the tree is what enables the replica seeds within the fruit to be dispersed so that the species can propagate. The fruit is the vehicle that carries the seed.

It should not be surprising, therefore, to find Jesus adopting such an analogy to explain the “mystery of the Kingdom of God[18] to his disciples: “It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it growth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.”[19]

The account of creation in Genesis Chapter One describes the origin of the universe as a similar process. It tells us that the human organism is the fruit of the tree, the universe is the tree, and the human brain is a replica of the seed that gave birth to the universe.

The great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, who lived at about the same time as Jesus, recognized this when he said, regarding the creation of man “in the image of God[20], that “the resemblance [between God and man] is spoken of with reference to the most important part of the soul, namely, the mind: for the mind which exists in each individual has been created after the likeness of that one mind which is in the universe as its primitive model.[21]

In other words, the mathematical structure that gave birth to the universe is imprinted into the human brain as an image of the original structure. The human brain is ‘programmed’ with the “mathematical laws” that Rees says “underpin the fabric of our universe.[22] The incredible abilities of the ‘mathematical’ savants are evidence of that.[23] In his excellent book Islands of Genius, Darold A. Treffert notes that some mathematical savants “seem to ‘see’ their answers as if projected on to a screen,”[24] and asks whether the “actual knowledge [of the prodigious savant], or at least the software templates or scaffolding for [the] rules of music, art and mathematics, or even other areas of expertise, come ‘factory installed’ in all of us?[25]

Likewise, Rees notes that “Newton’s laws are in some sense ‘hardwired’ into monkeys that swing confidently from tree to tree.”[26] And if in monkeys, why not in humans?

However, Genesis also tells us that the mathematical structure of the replica seed that is the human brain, like the original seed that gave birth to the universe, has three distinct but interrelated elements: morality, reason and instinct.

As explained in Parts VII and VIII of my series A Legal Proof for the Existence of God, the “image and likeness[27] of God refers to the human capacity for moral judgment; the symbolism of God speaking to the male and female He had created refers to the human ability to reason; and what God is said to say to the humans refers to human instinct, some of which we share with animals (the instinct to reproduce, and the instincts for survival and security), and others that are unique to human beings (the instinct to subdue and conquer, and the instinct to pursue knowledge of our world and the universe).

Chapter Two of Genesis symbolizes these distinct faculties with trees. The “tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the human capacity for moral judgement; the trees that are “pleasant to the sight, and good for food,”[28] represent human instincts; the reference to God commanding the man[29] symbolizes the human ability to reason; and the “tree of life” represents our ability to apply the knowledge of the universe to understand and seek to fulfil our true moral purpose and our true moral destiny.[30]

Each year science discovers further evidence that suggests that these elements of the human brain are the consequence of the mathematical laws that govern the universe. In respect of the faculties of reason and morality, for example, Dr Kelly Smith, of Clemson University, says that the tendency of the universe to produce complexity suggests that the emergence of life with a capacity for reason and moral judgement may not be accidental, but a consequence of the basic structure of the universe unfolding in a predictable manner.[31]

In respect of the instinct for reproduction, Jeremy English, a physicist at MIT, has proposed that the second law of thermodynamics inevitably tends to the rearranging of atoms so as to create life. But he also suggests that the energy dissipation that drives this process is most effectively achieved by self-replication. As English says, “A great way of dissipating more [energy] is to make more copies of yourself.”[32]

These scientific discoveries show that the distinct neurological faculties in the brain are in fact facets of the mathematical laws that govern the universe, which, in turn, if the reductionist view is proved correct, are themselves a consequence of even more fundamental principles that determine the properties of all the other mathematical laws, like the second law of thermodynamics.

Origins of Mysticism – competing neurological networks

Using the symbolism of trees to describe these distinct faculties conveys the message that these faculties are imprinted into the human brain as neurological networks. These three networks convert the raw mathematical data ‘pre-installed’ in the brain, together with the mathematical data processed through the senses, into emotions, words, images and concepts, enabling us to understand what the raw mathematical data means, and respond accordingly.

But all these neurological networks start out like seeds in the brain. They need to be carefully tended and nurtured in order to germinate and grow, and fulfil their intended purpose and potential. That is especially important for the moral network because it is the most easily neglected network. As Jesus said, although the seed of the “word of the kingdom of God” is “within[33]” us, “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becommeth unfruitful.[34]

That warning by Jesus brings us to the crux of the matter, because the neurological moral network is the most important of all the networks. It is the network that most induces the phenomenon we call mystical, or spiritual. That is because it acts as a ‘regulator’ and restraint on the networks that give us our instincts and our ability to reason. But its interventions often seem inexplicable. As Kant said, it is “the voice [that] makes even the boldest sinner tremble.”[35] And it is important that we learn to distinguish between the “voice” that speaks to us from the neurological moral network, and the voice of our instincts that tempts us with the prospect of pleasure, or fills us with the fear of pain.

Reason in the service of instinct, rather than in service of the moral law, is what we recognize as evil. It is responsible for the most despicable deceits, betrayals, humiliations and atrocities human beings can inflict upon their fellow human beings.

Take for example the instinct for reproduction. The instinct is fired by the prospect of the pleasure to be had by engaging in the act. But when this instinct is not restrained by the voice of the moral law, reason will find justification for all manner of deceptions and deceits in order to indulge the prospect of pleasure, or avoid the fear of pain. When totally unrestrained by the moral law, it will justify rape, incest, and even pedophilia, and devise deceptions to escape detection. It will even justify murder if its instinct for survival feels threatened by the possibility of detection. On the other hand, when reason is in the service of the moral law, it compels the instinct to reproduce to recognize that the act of creating a new life is sacred, and attaches profound and enduring obligations to those who engage in the act – obligations not just to the life they create together, but towards each other.

Likewise, reason in the service of the peculiarly human instinct to subdue and conquer is responsible for reprehensible acts like bullying, slavery and war. But when this instinct is regulated by the neurological moral network, we are compelled to apply it to subdue and conquer the human appetite for pleasure and the fear of pain. Reason in the service of the moral law enables us to subdue and conquer our primitive instincts. Buddhism is largely based on exactly this endeavor.

Likewise, reason in the service of our instincts for survival and security compels us to accumulate and appropriate to ourselves far in excess of what we need to survive and be secure, even at the expense of depriving others of a means for providing for their own survival and security. But reason in the service of the moral law compels us to compassion and a recognition of our obligations to the survival and security of the weak and least advantaged of the human species. This obligation was recognized as far back as 1,780 BC, when Hammurabi declared that the primary purpose of his Code was to bring “about the well-being of the oppressed” and ensure “that the strong should not harm the weak.” Similarly, Asoka (304 – 232 BC), in speaking of the Dhamma (Law), advocated “moderation in spending and moderation in saving.”[36]

And again, reason in the service of the instinct for knowledge, unregulated by the voice that speaks to us from our neurological moral network, willingly puts itself in the service of those who would use that knowledge to service their instinct to subdue and conquer. The claim by scientists that they only design the weapons of war, politicians use them, is such an example. It is like the irresponsible father giving his disturbed son a gun to take to school, but when the disturbed son then shoots dead scores of his schoolmates, the father protests that he only gave him the gun, he didn’t make him use it. However, when reason is guided by the voice of the moral law, the instinct for knowledge is applied to enhance the wellbeing of humanity, not to provide it with the instruments to inflict death and destruction upon itself.

It does not take a great deal of reflection to recognize those acts that are a consequence of reason in the service of instinct, and those acts that are a consequence of reason in the service of the moral law. The former we call evil or sinful, and we devise laws in an attempt to regulate them. The latter we recognize as good, and we should seek to encourage and promote them, if we had not so pitifully fallen into bondage to our primitive instincts.

Mysticism demystified – signposts in the mind

The ‘mystery’ of the moral law is that human beings recognize that there is a universal law that is not of human making; a law that is not a consequence of one person or group of people imposing their authority on others. It acts as a restraint on our instinctive reactions and motivations by directing us towards the good.

Science is now beginning to recognize that the human brain may indeed be programmed with such a neurological moral network that speaks to us of a supreme moral law. The IVF pioneer, Robert Winston, writes that “Psychologist Eliot Turiel observed that even three- and four-year-olds could distinguish between moral rules … and conventional rules … Furthermore, they could understand that a moral breach, such as hitting someone, was wrong whether you had been told not to do it or not, whereas a conventional breach, such as not talking in class, was wrong only if it had been expressly forbidden.[37] Winston concludes from such research that the human brain has “a sort of ‘morality module’ … that is activated at an early age.[38]

But, as yet, scientists have no idea how the “morality module” got to be ‘programmed’ into the brain, nor how it really functions.

Although research like that of Dr Kelly[39] suggests that the human capacity for reason and moral judgement may not be accidental, but a consequence of the laws of the universe unfolding in a predictable manner, another mathematical equation may reveal how the “morality module” presents the moral law to us “for our obedience.”

It is Richard Feynman’s “sum over paths” equation. Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, devised an equation (based on Schrödinger’s wave equation of quantum physics), referred to as “sum over paths,” which, in very simple terms, demonstrates that although particles are ‘free’ to choose between all probable paths, they appear to be ‘programmed’ to ‘know’ that they should adopt the path that leads to the deterministic laws of Classical (Newtonian) physics, the laws that are a prerequisite for an ordered universe capable of spawning and maintaining life.[40]

Then there is the curious behavior of particles in what physicists call delayed-choice experiments. As the TV physicist Brian Greene notes, modified versions of these experiments show that particles seem to “have a ‘premonition’ of the experimental situation they will encounter farther downstream, and act accordingly.”[41] That is, they appear to ‘know’ what a future environment will look like, and adjust to prepare for it. But they have to have that future environment communicated to them in some way.[42]

These ‘mystical’ properties of particles, or at least the mathematical equations that determine their properties, appear to be the origin of the similarly mystical mechanism in the neurological moral network that suggests to us which path is the right path to choose to comply with the “moral law.” Like the “sum over paths” equation, it suggests the path that fulfils our true moral purpose, and our true moral destiny, and warns us to adopt the right path by communicating to us the negative consequences of failing to do so. It suggests to us the path that leads to order and justice, not to chaos and oppression; the path that leads to compassion and sacrifice, not gain and vanity.

With the exception of psychopaths, who are virtually totally disconnected from their neurological moral networks (and according to a BBC Horizon program,[43] that includes a disturbingly large number of CEOs of leading corporations), most of us subconsciously ‘hear’ the voice of the moral law. Unfortunately, we are so overwhelmed with suggestions that appeal to our appetite for pleasure and fear of pain, and that appeal to our vanities, that what little we do hear is drowned out by the clatter of advertising. And as Jesus said, “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in,” serve to silence the already faint voice of the moral law.

But how does the neurological moral network present the moral law to us for our obedience?

As already noted, most of us are only subconsciously aware of the moral law. Others, however, and I would put the Old Testament prophets in this category, appear to ‘see’ or ‘hear’ it with stark clarity, like those savants that ‘see’ answers to mathematical problems “as if projected on to a screen,”[44]

Others, no doubt, experience something similar to savants like Daniel Tammett, and incredible mathematicians like Ramanujan. When Tammett was doing complicated calculations he said “I’m seeing things in my head; like little sparks flying off, and it’s not until the very last minute that those sparks tell me what on earth they mean.” Likewise, Ramanujan said that he dreamed of drops of blood followed by visions in which scrolls appeared to him containing complex equations.[45]

As I explain in my article The Power of Insight, the experiences of Tammett and Ramanujan are similar to what the prophets are said to have experienced. Isaiah and Ezekiel, for example, saw visions, Jeremiah saw words, while Daniel, as well as having dreams and visions of his own, could ‘see’ the meaning in what others ‘saw,’ because he had ‘understanding in all dreams and visions’.

It is important however to distinguish between hallucinations, in which the mind plays tricks on us, and the kind of insight experienced by the likes of Tammett and Ramanujan. It is also important to distinguish between ‘seeing’ the mathematical raw data ‘programmed’ into the brain, as Tammett and Ramanujan did, and ‘seeing’ or ‘hearing’ that mathematical raw data after it has been converted into moral principles by the neurological moral network.

Although there is a ‘mystical’ element to the kind of insight experienced by Tammett and Ramanujan, only the “voice” of the neurological moral network, as it reveals to us the moral law, is truly mystical. It is this kind of insight that gives us signposts in the mind that reveals to us our true moral purpose, and leads us to our true moral destiny.

From Mysticism to A ‘Final Theory’ of God

Immanuel Kant best explained why this kind of insight is truly mystical when he said that the moral law is “absolutely inexplicable from any data of the sensible world, and the whole compass of our theoretical use of reason,” that it is “incomprehensible to speculative reason,” and, most significantly, that it demands our obedience “apart from all advantage.[46]

What Kant recognized was that the moral law is counter-intuitive. It holds out no prospect of physical or intellectual benefit. When viewed from the perspective of what we would normally consider logical or commonsense assumptions about life, it seems to suggest the contrary. Intuitively we aspire to personal gain, security and contentment; the moral law suggests submission, moderation and even sacrifice.

It tells us that there is something more to life than the physical. As Jesus said, “for what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.”[47] Or as The Preacher proclaimed, “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding …”[48] In fact, the theme is the whole basis of the Sermon on the Mount, exemplified by the saying “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.[49]

But recognition of the supremacy of the moral law is not exclusive to the Scriptures. It is common to all religions, to all people, and to all ages of history. As we have seen, conquering our appetite to service our instincts is the objective of Buddhism, and it was the basis of Mahatma Gandhi’s way of life.

And it all rests on the moral law being ‘revealed’ to us by the neurological moral network converting the raw mathematical data ‘programmed’ into the brain as an image of the raw mathematical data that governs the universe. That is the mystical in the moral law – that the fundamental laws of physics are moral laws. It tells us that we can no more invent the laws of morality than we can invent the laws of physics. We can only discover them.

Ever since our early ancestors first activated the neurological moral network by offending against it (that is the story of Adam and Eve – see http://wp.me/p5izWu-7C), human beings have sought to give expression to the voice of the moral law. They have done so by establishing systems of government and justice.

These institutions are a manifestation of the moral law, and they give us an insight into what it means. It compels us to recognize that a supreme law to which all are subject requires a supreme lawmaker to promulgate it. And it requires a system of justice to ensure compliance with the law, and which requires that there be a consequence for a violation.

Religion is similarly an expression of the moral law which moves us to recognize a Supreme law and a Supreme Lawmaker as its author. And just like human justice, it compels us to recognize that there has to be a consequence for a violation, otherwise the law is meaningless.

This means that government, justice, and indeed religion, are all a manifestation of the neurological moral network converting the mathematical data imprinted in the human brain into moral principles which, as Kant says, it then presents to us for our obedience.

Although Kant argued that his “moral law” did not prove an afterlife, or the existence of God, it did presuppose it. But it may just be more than a supposition. Perhaps we walk past the real proof of God, an afterlife, and even a judgment, every day of our lives – in the grand seats of our legislatures, in the courts of law in our towns, and in the prisons that incarcerate offenders. Of course, these institutions don’t get it right, because they are mostly occupied by those in bondage to their primitive instinct to subvert others to their own authority and power. Although they are not a model of what the moral law is, they do give expression to the basic components of the moral law.

It is clear, nevertheless, that the neurological moral network speaks to us of a Supreme law and a Supreme Lawmaker. It reveals to us that the mathematical structure in the human brain that speaks to us of a Supreme law and a Supreme Lawmaker is a replica of the mathematical structure that gave birth to the universe. And that tells us that the mathematical structure of the universe, the Supreme Law of the universe, must recognize itself as a creation of a Supreme Lawmaker.

That is the mystical in man, and it is a reflection of the mystical in the universe. But it is a mystical that is an integral aspect of the physical. It seems then that Weinberg was most probably wrong, the universe does suggest a point – to itself, and to human existence. And Nietzsche inadvertently explained where we can find it when he mocked Kant for having “discovered a moral faculty in man.”

But ultimately, the mystery may only be solved if the Final Theory, the theory that is the Holy Grail of science, turns out to be A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

————————————————————————

The arguments and evidence in this article reflect certain arguments and evidence set out in the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

Notes

[1] Physics and Reality (1936), in Ideas and Opinions, trans. Sonja Bargmann (New York: Bonanza, 1954), p292.

[2] Rees, Martin, Just Six Numbers, Phoenix, London, 1999 (paperback), pages 11-12 – my emphasis.

[3] Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Practical Reason, page 60.

[4] Kant, page 100.

[5] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Vintage (paperback), page 18.

[6] Weinberg, Steven, Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage Books 1994 (paperback), page 32.

[7] Rees, page 1 – Capitals are my emphasis

[8] Rees, page 1.

[9] See Weinberg, Chapter 3 – Two Cheers for Reductionism.

[10] Weinberg, pages 57, 58.

[11] Weinberg, pages 9 – 10 (my emphasis).

[12] Weinberg, Steven. The First Three Minutes, Basic Books, 1993 (paperback), page 154.

[13] Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, page 255 – emphasis on invent is mine.

[14] As noted in my article “Perhaps there is hope for Humanity’s moral destiny after all!” at http://wp.me/p5izWu-7V there is at least one physicist who believes that there could be a moral dimension to the cosmos.

[15] Kant, page 80.

[16] Nahmanides Commentary on Genesis 1:1 paras 3 & 4 – http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3-4?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all .

[17] See Nahmanides on Genesis 1:1: http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all

[18] Mark 4:11, Mat 13:10.

[19] Mark 4:30; and see Mat 13:31 and Luke 13:18.

[20] Genesis 1:27.

[21] Philo, On the Creation, XXIII (69).

[22] Rees, page 1.

[23] See Part X of A Legal Proof for the Existence of God: The Power of Insight, at http://wp.me/p5izWu-aN

[24] Treffert, Islands of Genius (paperback), page 36 – emphasis on ‘see’ is mine.

[25] Treffert, page 12.

[26] Rees, page 37.

[27] Genesis 1:26.

[28] Genesis 2:9.

[29] Genesis 2:16.

[30] See Revelation 22:14 and Proverbs 12:13 & 14.

[31] See Perhaps there is hope for Humanity’s moral destiny after all!

[32] https://www.quantamagazine.org/20140122-a-new-physics-theory-of-life/

[33] Luke 17:21.

[34] Mark 4:19. And see Mat 13:22 & Luke 18:24.

[35] See note 4 above.

[36] The Fourteen Rock Edicts, number 3.

[37] Winston, Op Cit.

[38] The Guardian, 13 October 2005.

[39] See Note 30 above.

[40] See Kaku, Parallal Worlds, Penguin, London, 2005 (Paperback), page 164.

[41] Greene,Brian, The Fabric of the Cosmos, Penguin, London 2005 (paperback),pages 188 & 189, and see http://wp.me/p5izWu-8S

[42] See an explanation here: http://wp.me/p5izWu-8S

[43] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b014kj65 and http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1y4j0s_e05-are-you-good-or-evil_tv for the video.

[44] See Note 24 above: Treffert, page 36.

[45] See The Power of Insight – http://wp.me/p5izWu-aN

[46] Kant, page 100.

[47] Mark 8:36.

[48] Ecclesiastes 9:11.

[49] Matthew 5:5.

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part IX): Science in Genesis Chapter 3 – Adam and Eve

The first question to address is whether the story of Adam and Eve refers to two particular individuals, or is a generic reference to the first of the species to acquire specifically human characteristics. And Genesis tells us that it is both.

That is found at Genesis 5, verses 1 and 2:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him;

Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day they were created.”

The references to “the generations of Adam”, and “the day God created man”, clearly refer to a period of time, and a generic description of the first human beings.

The wording is the same as Genesis 2, verse 4 – “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” As we saw in respect of The Garden of Eden, this verse clearly refers to a period of time as well. Conflating the words “generations” and “day” can have no other reasonable explanation.

We then see in verse 2 that the “male and the female” are collectively called “Adam”. There is no mention of Eve.

Adam clearly thus refers to the first human beings endowed with human DNA. However, as we saw in the article on the Garden of Eden, there would have been a number of human beings with this DNA who would have joined up to create new human life in their own genetic image.

So at this stage of the development of the human race there would likely have been several small groups of people with human DNA who were the ancestors of all other human beings.

The San people of southern Africa are the descendants of that branch of the human species that did not succumb to the temptation of eating of the ‘forbidden fruit’.

The story of Adam and Eve relates to that branch of the early species that did take of the fruit, and produced so-called ‘civilized’ human beings.

Temptation

Chapter 3 records what happened when the primitive instinct to reproduce was aroused by the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging in the act of reproduction, not for the main purpose of reproduction, but with the principal aim of deriving physical pleasure from the act.

It is appropriate here to quote again from the great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria: “For other animals pursue pleasure only in taste and in the acts of generation; but man aims at it by means of his other senses also, devoting himself to whatever sights or sounds can impart pleasure to his eyes or ears.[1]

Chapter 3 deals with the transformation of the former to the latter.

We should set out the whole account of this transformation:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.[2]

Before considering these verses, it is important to remember that we are looking at the symbolism of what is being said. But there can be little doubt that the symbolism relates to real events.

These verses symbolize the conflict between primitive human instincts and the promptings of the neurological moral network as it arose in the first of the species. A picture is painted of a woman wrestling with the allure of pleasure by indulging in an act which her conscience is telling her is wrong. She is fantasizing; but about what?

Well, it is impossible to ignore the phallic imagery of the speaking serpent, so the most plausible explanation is that she is fantasizing about sex.

We should also remember that it was very likely that these early humans would have been living with, or at least in close proximity to, the species from which they had emerged, and even other species of primates that were genetically very similar to them. And these other species would also have been “naked.” And more tellingly, these other primates would have indulged in sex quite openly and casually, as they do today.

But at this stage, a number of characteristics had developed in the early human species which distinguished them from other primates. First, they had developed a higher level of communication, as well as a more advanced capacity to reason. But they also had a partially activated neurological moral network which acted as a restraint on their actions by arousing a sense of conscience.

However, the woman would have enjoyed the pleasure of intimacy with Adam. And this would have acted as a spark to ignite her imagination to consider ways to enhance the pleasure derived from sexual intimacy. And her capacity to reason would have been eager to tender suggestions and justifications.

There would have been plenty of examples in the behavior of the more primitive primates living in close proximity. Thus the imagery of the account of the woman being tempted by the serpent is not hard to translate into a real picture. Although constrained by her moral impulses to refrain from sexual encounters other than with Adam, by observing the casual sexual interplay of primates around her, the woman began to fantasize about what it would be like to do the same. She started to imagine what ‘forbidden pleasures’ could be had if she just suppressed the feelings of guilt aroused by such fantasies.

No doubt she would have questioned why it would be wrong for her to do what the other primates were doing. There was no consequence to them for doing it, so what could happen to her? Her reasoning appears to have gone into overdrive to justify doing what she knew would be wrong by suppressing the restraint and guilt demanded by her newly acquired moral aptitude.

Succumbing to Temptation activates the Neurological Moral Network

In the end, the woman succumbed to the allure of the pleasures to be had by indulging her sexual fantasies – “she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.” And by employing the newly acquired ability to combine reason with an ability to communicate, the woman persuaded “her husband” to do the same.

What they did, it can only be concluded, is indulge in sexual encounters with members of the other species around them, and no doubt with other newly formed humans if and when they encountered them.

Now many reading all this about a woman fantasizing about imitating the sexual practices of apes, and engaging in sexual encounters with them, will no doubt ridicule the whole interpretation. So what evidence is there that human beings could act in such a manner, either back then, or now?

Well plenty, actually.

Let’s start with the fantasy part, and humans looking to apes for ‘moral inspiration’. And for that we need look no further than a professor of philosophy, no less – AC Grayling.

In his book The God Argument – The Case against religion and for Humanism, Grayling claims that the arts (books, music, films and so on) demonstrate the importance of intimate physical relationships to human beings, but laments that the traditional moral consensus that sex should be limited to one other person in a bonding for life somehow inhibits what he calls human “flourishing.”[3]

So Grayling cites the behavior of bonobo chimpanzees as a model for a better approach. Being the primates most like humans, Grayling says that the bonobo’s equivalent of shaking hands is to engage in sex casually and often.[4]

Grayling thus claims that “pleasure is good – and sexual pleasure is very good.”[5]

According to him, this all means that sex only becomes a problem when it is “rationed and starved.”[6] So his solution is sexual experimentation. And with a lot of practice, Grayling claims that humans can better learn to ‘love’ and be ‘loved’.[7]

But if anyone inhibits your sexual self-indulgence, such as a wife or children, then they need to be made to understand that some human beings have certain “needs and interests,” which the victims simply have to “accept and tolerate … and be open-minded” about.[8]

And it is belief in God (religion) that Grayling claims inhibits this kind of sexual indulgence in the pursuit of human “flourishing”.

Grayling’s ‘philosophy’ is really based on a simple premise – why shouldn’t we behave like animals?

So we see that what is said to have aroused the first woman, and the ‘reasoning’ employed to justify indulging that arousal, is something that has stayed with many of the species up to this very day. And Grayling is not unique in that regard; it is not an uncommon phenomenon.

Marketing companies exploit the human obsession with sex to sell everything from ice-cream to motor cars.

But is there any evidence that the first humans did interbreed with other primates? Again, the answer is yes.

In an article in the online journal Public Library of Science (PLoS), Dr Paola Villa of the University of Colorado Museum, and Professor Wil Roebroeks of Lieden University, say that “current genetic data suggest that complex processes of interbreeding and assimilation may have been responsible for the disappearance of the specific Neandertal morphology from the fossil record.”

In their conclusion, they say that “The momentous cultural changes that followed the arrival of AMH (anatomically modern humans) in Western Eurasia were not uniquely due to the residents’ cognitive or technological inferiority causing rapid and total replacement. The Neandertal demise appears to have resulted from a complex and protracted process including multiple dynamic factors such as low population density, interbreeding with some cultural contact, possible male hybrid sterility and contraction in geographic distribution followed by genetic swamping and assimilation by the increasing numbers of modern immigrants.”

And Villa and Roebroeks cite evidence of this interbreeding in modern human beings: “In 2010 a draft sequence of the Neandertal nuclear DNA provided clear evidence of interbreeding between Neandertals and modern humans, estimating that Neandertal inheritance makes up 1–4% of the genomes of people outside of Africa. A revised estimate based on a high-coverage sequence of a Neandertal from the Altai Mountains now suggests 1.5–2.1%.[9]

However, clearly Genesis is not referring to this interbreeding between humans and Neandertals. The story of Adam and Eve relates to a much earlier time when humans were only just emerging as the species. The example of the interbreeding with Neandertals was simply a continuation of something that had started much earlier.

The real significance of the story, however, lies in its explanation of how the neurological moral network in the human brain was initially fully activated, and the central part played in that process by the human capacity to reason. The story demonstrates that reason can be applied to justify anything.

Why was acquiring the “knowledge of good and evil” wrong?

But if the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” symbolizes the neurological moral network, why, some will ask, would it be wrong to acquire “the knowledge of good and evil’?

The answer is that to awaken the neurological moral network the first human beings had to take some action which offended it. That produced a sense of guilt in the form of a conscience. And as we have seen, according to Genesis, the action that initially activated the neurological moral network  related to pleasure – “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was PLEASANT to the eyes, and a tree to be DESIRED to make one wise …”[10]

As Philo says, “anyone who follows a reasonable train of conjecture, will say with great propriety, that the … serpent is the symbol of pleasure.”  And he goes on to say that the “serpent is said to have uttered a human voice, because pleasure employs innumerable champions and defenders who take care to advocate its interests, and who dare to assert that the power over everything, both small and great, does of right belong to it without any exception whatever.”[11]

So the story of Eve’s (“the woman’s[12]) temptation clearly refers to the interaction between morality, instinct and reason.

The serpent represents the instinct for reproduction. The symbolism of the serpent ‘speaking’ relates to the allure of pleasure to be had by indulging the instinct for reproduction. And Eve ‘seeing’ “that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, …” symbolizes the application of reason to justify taking actions that we ‘know’ are wrong.

The prohibition against eating of the tree represents morality. It is the neurological moral network within the brain that ‘speaks’ to us of the morality of certain actions, and acts as a restraint to actions which offend against it, if we listen. However, until this moment, the neurological moral network was subconscious.

Consequences of activating the neurological moral network

Once the first humans succumbed to the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instinct for reproduction, the neurological moral network was fully activated. This is symbolized by the words “and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”[13] They realized then that they were different to the other species around them, even those most like them, and that it was not appropriate to simply imitate animal behavior.

However, Genesis tells us that once the neurological moral network had been offended, it gave rise to a sense of guilt, and Adam and Eve are said to do what people do to this day in order to justify their actions; they “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden.” They attempted to escape the guilt aroused by their actions by seeking justification in their primitive instincts; in “the trees of the garden.”

As we have already seen, the trees in the garden symbolize human instincts, amongst which is the instinct to reproduce. So when they are plagued by a sense of guilt, they seek to justify their actions by reference to their instincts. They ‘reason’ their way to a justification by attempting to convince themselves that they should not feel guilty because what they did was perfectly natural – just like the animals around them.

But clearly the guilt could not be easily silenced. And so, like today, they started the blame-game – Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. In ‘excusing’ her behavior by claiming that “the serpent beguiled” her, the woman is essentially seeking to defend her actions by saying that the attractions of the pleasures she imagined could be had by indulging her primitive instincts were so strong as to be ‘irresistible’. So she should not be to blame. It was simply a ‘natural’ response to a ‘natural’ desire – much like AC Grayling.

But, of course, it was all to no avail.

Once they had crossed the moral threshold, no longer did they simply respond to an intuitive restraint to their actions from the neurological moral network. They had acquired an ability to identify specific actions as right or wrong. Yet, they were seduced by the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instincts, as humans are today. So they mobilized their enhanced capacity to reason to seek justification for doing that which their neurological moral network told them was wrong.

The Legacy

The ‘punishment’ that God is said to inflict on them clearly symbolizes the conflict that has plagued the descendants of Adam and Eve from that moment on – a conflict between servicing their primitive instincts, or servicing the promptings of their neurological moral network.

We can see that the ‘punishment’ puts “enmity” between the attractions of pleasure to be had by indulging primitive instincts, like those of reproduction, and the consequences of doing so.

The ‘punishment’ said to have been inflicted on Adam clearly relates to human beings falling into bondage to their primitive instincts. From that moment on, human beings would be driven to provide for their survival and security by relentless toil. The instincts for survival and security generate a fear of being unable to provide for themselves, and a fear of anything and anyone perceived to be a threat.

The words “in sorrow shalt thou eat of [the ground] all the days of thy life[14] clearly refers to the instinct for security; “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground[15] clearly refers to the fear of death, and the survival instinct.

But there was a far more unpleasant consequence of this awakening of the “morality module”. The previous mental tranquility of intuitively refraining from actions because they knew they were wrong, and responding to the promptings of their instincts “only in taste and in the acts of generation”, had been replaced with an obsessive preoccupation with the pleasures and fears aroused by those instincts. No longer were these first humans content to live day by day without the constant fear of want and death – now they were consumed by a passion to indulge the demands of their instincts so as to alleviate their fears, or feed their appetite for pleasure.

As Philo said, they had condemned themselves to “an existence more miserable than death.”

From this point on, Genesis, and the Bible as a whole, records the conflict between human instinct and morality as it plays out in historical context. And how human beings employ reason to justify doing wrong.

Cain and Abel

So we see in the account of Cain and Abel that Abel’s endeavors were proving successful whereas Cain’s were modest. This fired insecurity in Cain, and wounded his vanity. Abel was seen as a threat who had to be neutralized. The symbolism of God speaking to Cain to ask why he is angry, relates to Cain’s neurological moral network intervening in an attempt to quell the anger. God says to Cain, “If thou does’t well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou does’t not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”[16]

The Hebrew for the last sentence actually says this: “And subject unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”

The message is quite clear – Cain has a choice about how to act. One choice is acceptable, or moral, the other is wrong, and will have consequences. The “desire” to satisfy his instincts is under his control – “subject unto thee.” And morality must rule over the desires of the instincts – “thou shalt rule over him.”

But, like Eve, Cain could not or would not listen to the moral ‘voice’ within him, and planned to slay Abel. We see that Cain “talked with Abel” before he implemented his plan. This indicates that Cain was using ‘reason’, and the ability to communicate, in service of his primitive instincts, and not in service of the “moral law.” And even once he had killed Abel, his ability to reason seeks ways to deny responsibility, saying he does not know where Abel is. Furthermore, he also asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – an instance of reason seeking to excuse accountability for the wellbeing of our fellow human beings.

Cain’s reaction to the guilt that arises from his actions is first to lie, then to ‘justify’ the lie by ‘reasoning’ that he is not responsible.

We see in Cain a regrettable model for those who believe that satisfying their own “needs and interests” at any cost is their primary ‘duty’ in life, and they ‘reason’ their way to justifying whatever actions they take in pursuit of their ‘goals’. And their goals are always the same – indulging their appetite for pleasure, and relieving the fear of their insecurities; in short, being in the service of their primitive instincts, and silencing the voice of morality whenever it ‘speaks’.

However, Cain realizes that he cannot completely silence the voice of morality, and finally acknowledges that “Mine iniquity is greater than can be forgiven.”[17]

And the only way he can live with the guilt of his conscience is to deny God – “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.”[18]

That, it seems, is the “mark” which God is said to have put on Cain; the propensity to apply ‘reason’ to justify the servicing of our primitive instincts in defiance of the “moral law” which created us, and which is within us. And humans accomplish that self-deception through the denial of a Supreme Law, and thus a denial of God.

In that way, those who seek to impose their own authority and will on others are free to ‘make’ such ‘laws’ as best serve their own interests, and to implement such measures as are necessary to compel others to submit to those ‘laws’.

That is the meaning of Cain building a city which he names after his son Enoch.[19] God is replaced with the pursuit of power and wealth to feed vanity and allay insecurity.

However, at the end of Chapter 4, the story reverts again to Adam and Eve. Eve conceives and gives birth to Seth, and he has a son called Enos. And it is this strand of the genealogy of Adam and Eve that came to the realization that God is indispensable to human existence. That is because, after the birth of Enos, “then men began to call on the name of the Lord.” [20]

And it is this strand of genealogy that leads to Abraham and on to Moses, and the Ten Commandments. They were the ‘keepers’ of the moral law that reveals God’s Will.

It was through Abraham that “all families of the earth shall be blessed.”[21]

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”[22]

The crucial words in that last verse are “because thou hast obeyed my voice.” It was this strand of the human species that stayed most obedient to the principles of the “moral law”; and, it seems, most easily able to decipher it over the clatter of demands from our primitive instincts.

Through Abraham’s descendents God’s moral law would be revealed not just to the Israelites, but to all humanity.

Conclusion

Genesis Chapter 3 reveals a remarkable degree of insight by the author/s of Genesis into the workings of the human brain. However, the most remarkable aspect of the story of Adam and Eve is the light it casts on the human capacity to reason. As the account shows, reason can be applied equally for good or evil. More reason does not guarantee more benevolent and good outcomes; less reason doesn’t automatically lead to malevolent or evil outcomes. Often it is the reverse, as history reveals.

The current consensus that reason can give us objective principles of morality is delusional. Reason is a neutral faculty. Its worth rests entirely on whether it is in the service of morality, or in the service of primitive human instinct.

That is the real message behind the story of Adam and Eve. And it is a message we should heed!

In the next article we will discover how the author/s of Genesis could have had such a profound understanding of the working of the universe, and of the human mind.

———————————————————–

This series of articles is based on the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

Notes

[1] Philo, On the Creation, LVIII (163).

[2] Genesis 3: 1 – 7.

[3] Grayling, ACX. The God Argument, page 192 and 199. A full Review of The God Argument can be read under Book Reviews on this website jbhmcmillan.com.

[4] Grayling, page 205.

[5] Grayling, page 206.

[6] Grayling, page 201.

[7] Grayling, page 202.

[8] Grayling, page 193.

[9] Villa P, Roebroeks W (2014) Neandertal Demise: An Archaeological Analysis of the Modern Human Superiority Complex. PLoS ONE 9(4): e96424. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096424.

[10] Genesis 3: 6.

[11] Philo, On the Creation, LVI (157) and (160) respectively.

[12] The name Eve is not used in Genesis 3 until verse 20 – “and Adam called his wife’s  name Eve …”

[13] Genesis 3: 7.

[14] Genesis 3: 17.

[15] Genesis 3: 19.

[16] Genesis 4: 7.

[17] Genesis 4: 13 – also translated “My punishment is more than I can bear.”

[18] Genesis 4: 16.

[19] Genesis 4: 17.

[20] Genesis 4: 20.

[21] Genesis 12: 3.

[22] Genesis 22:18.

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part VIII): Science in Genesis Chapter 2 – The Garden of Eden

Early man was like a house wired for light, but for a long time was in darkness; then a switch was thrown, and the house was full of light.

Humans became conscious beings; conscious of their own existence, their own mortality, and their own actions.

That sums up Chapter 2 of Genesis, which goes back to the time of the ‘awakening’ of the neurological moral network in the first of the species to experience it, and the dilemma that ‘awakening’ created for reason when it was confronted with the competing demands of the faculties of instinct and morality. The story of The Garden of Eden is the story of that ‘awakening’.

As we have seen in previous articles, especially in relation to Days Three and Six, Genesis 2, verses 1 to 5, tell us that by the end of the six “days” no life existed on Earth in the form we would recognize today. There was only DNA in primitive organisms. That was because there was not yet water on the Earth in liquid form.

When water did finally appear, the DNA that would develop into the variety of life on Earth, including human beings, had already been ‘programmed’; it was ready and waiting.

As physicist Freeman Dyson said, ‘It’s as if the universe knew we were coming.’[1]

But according to Genesis, it’s not so much that the universe knew we were coming, but that it had been prepared for our coming. Indeed, it even made our coming possible. It is the cosmic factory; and life is the cosmic product.

Then, when the Earth had cooled sufficiently, water appeared. As Genesis records, “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.[2]

The machinery of the cosmic factory had been oiled, and production of life could begin in earnest.

The formation of the human brain

The description of the Garden of Eden can only refer to the human brain: “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.[3]

Philo says that these verses are “symbolical rather than strictly accurate. For no trees of life or of knowledge have ever at any previous time appeared upon the earth, nor is it likely that any will appear hereafter. But I rather conceive that Moses was speaking in an allegorical spirit, intending by his paradise to intimate the dominant character of the soul, which is full of innumerable opinions as this figurative paradise was of trees.[4]

I agree that the verses are symbolic, and if Philo meant by “the dominant character of the soul” the human brain, I would agree with that as well. But I cannot agree that the trees represent the “innumerable opinions” of the multitudes. The description of the kind of trees in the Garden perfectly fits the neurological faculties ‘programmed’ into human DNA in Day Six. http://wp.me/p5izWu-92

Those were the faculties of instinct, reason, and morality. And those instincts are activated by the prospect of pleasure, or the fear of pain, and the human capacity for reason responds accordingly.

But we also saw that reason in the service of instinct accounts for what we call evil, while reason in the service of morality accounts for good.

When we consider the description of the trees in that light, the description of the Garden quickly begins to resemble the human brain.

First, the words “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow …” reflect the words used relating to the forming of man – “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground ….”[5] So when the trees are made to “grow” out of “the ground”, it clearly implies the “the ground” that had been made “man”.

The “trees” that are “made to grow” perfectly correspond to the various neurological faculties: “pleasant to the sight” refers to instincts; “good for food” refers to the innate ‘knowledge’ of how the universe and life functions; “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the “morality module”; and the “tree of life” refers to the moral equation, which is why it is in “the midst of the garden.”   The interaction between the various neurological faculties must be properly balanced in order to keep the moral equation in equilibrium.

However, all these elements of the human brain needed some way to interact with the world. The human instinct for reproduction, for example, can only be activated when it perceives something that it recognizes as another of the species which causes an arousal of that instinct. The instinct needs to be ‘fed’ by sight. Likewise, the instinct for survival is activated when the senses perceive some danger to survival – an unfamiliar sound, an unusual sight, another of the species perceived as a threat.

The physical senses ‘feed’ the brain – only Genesis calls it ‘watering’ the brain: “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.”[6]

This verse very obviously refers to the nervous system which supplies the brain with the information it needs in order to function. That is clear because the river didn’t go INTO the garden to water the trees, it “WENT OUT of Eden to water the garden.” It would be rather pointless for the water which should be ‘watering’ the trees in the garden to flow in the wrong direction.

So when we conceive of the Garden of Eden as referring to the human brain, and the river which flows out of  “Eden to water the garden” as the human nervous system which ‘waters’ the brain by supplying it with the information it requires in order to function, then the verse makes sense. The information the brain needs would be provided through the senses on the extremities of the body – the “four heads” of the river.

The references to what may have been physical places, and understood by the people at the time to represent certain of the senses, are not particularly important. The important point is that the rivers and the Garden symbolize the senses and the nervous system which ‘water’ the brain with information.

The activation of the human brain

The next verse is curious, because God is said to put man into the garden for a second time: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.[7] The crucial difference, of course, is that this time the man is put in the garden “to dress it and to keep it.” On the first occasion, he was just put there.

That is because the first reference is to the formation of the brain – “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow …”; whereas the second is to the activation of the faculties of the brain – “to dress it and to keep it”.

The latent ‘genes’ had been activated, or as the Encode Project would say, the necessary genetic “switches” had activated the genes, and the various neurological faculties began to function in the first of the species with a fully formed human brain.

The next verse is also crucial to understand why the “man” is put into the garden a second time: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”[8]

Now, we should note that the original Hebrew did not say “thou shalt surely die”, but “in dying thou shalt die”. This distinction is crucial, and we shall return to it shortly.

First, we should note that God is said to speak to the “man”, or more properly, “commanded” him. But the word used is the same as was used in Genesis 1: 22 – “saying”.

God commanded the man, SAYING”. We should remember that the word “saying” symbolizes a limited comprehension on the part of those ‘hearing’ the words, or at least a limited comprehension of the words being spoken.

The symbolism of God commanding the “man”, in conjunction with the word “saying”, tells us that the “morality module,” which the “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” represents, had been activated, but that its messages were being subconsciously processed.

That is confirmed by the warning issued by God of the consequences of violating the message – “in dying thou shalt die.”

So the activation of these various faculties means that this first human being subconsciously knew that certain actions were wrong, and that there would be a consequence for committing those actions.

However, since there was no other human being to tell him that the actions were wrong, and no other human being to impose a consequence, or punishment, he would have reflected on why he felt that such actions could be wrong. Moreover, he would have noted that many of the actions of the very species from which he had emerged were wrong by his new understanding, yet there were no consequences to them indulging in such behavior.

So he would have wondered whether the consequences would be imposed at some time other than during his lifetime, and the only other time could be after his death. That would have made him aware of his own mortality, thus causing a consciousness of being alive.

The first of the human species had become a conscious being; conscious of his own mortality, and conscious of his own existence; and all because the neurological moral network had been activated.

Functioning of the neurological moral network

Verses 18 to 25 of Chapter 2 record how the now activated neurological moral network began to direct human behavior, and ultimately, human destiny. I shall only briefly address these verses in this article, although I do address them in detail in the book.

Here is a summary of those verses.

First, God is said to have wanted to find “an help meet for” Adam (the first human being with fully formed human DNA) because he should not “be alone.” So God made all the animals and brought them to Adam to be named. But still “there was not found an help meet for him.” So God put him into a deep sleep, removed one of his ribs, made a woman, and “brought her unto him.”

Adam is then said to have recognized the woman as “bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.”

As a consequence of this mutual recognition, “a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

Now the first thing we should note is that the “man” was alone, and that it was “not good” that he should be alone. This suggests that fully formed human DNA had appeared in only one (or at best a scattered few) of the first of the species. So he would have recognized that he was different to the species from whom he had emerged.

But this does not mean that he was physically alone. He must have been the offspring of a mother and father. And no doubt he would have been part of a group or tribe of people. That is because, as Philo says, “all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus.”[9] This first “man” was thus the first to assume the “distinctive [human] form.”

The reason that it was “not good that the man should be alone” is that his instinct was to reproduce, but there was no female of the species with fully ‘matured’ human DNA to reproduce with. To this first “man”, reproducing with what ostensibly would have been another ‘species’ would have been an unattractive prospect.

So he would have become frustrated. But in doing so, he appears to have activated other elements of his brain.

The words “I will make him an help meet for him” can only symbolize the activation of the ability to reason at a higher level, compelling this first human to examine the life around him in the hope of finding another living thing like him with whom he could reproduce.

However, by examining the various different species around him, this first human appeared to activate another latent characteristic of the brain – the language module. Adam started ascribing names to the animals.

But Adams’s search for a mate proved futile: “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

So it seems that this first of the human species must have settled for a mate from one of the more primitive species from which he had emerged, even though she would have been a different ‘species’ in some major respects. As a consequence, his fully ‘programmed’ human DNA must have again become dormant: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.”[10]

The symbolism of “Adam” going into a deep sleep means that the fully formed human DNA he was carrying around probably passed through several generations while remaining dormant. So a number of the pre-human species may well have had this dormant DNA

Then, by a coincidence of probabilities, the dormant DNA was activated in both a male and female at the same time, and those two must have been in close physical proximity. And immediately they recognized each other as being different to the species around them, and virtual mirror-images of each other, except one was male and the other female. As Philo said, they would have “beheld” each other “as in a mirror.”[11]

The human species was ready to “go forth and multiply”.

Recognition of moral obligations

The effect of this mutual recognition was that some additional elements of the “morality module” were activated. That is symbolized by the words “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.” They recognized that this new relationship between members of the new species was different to what went before. They recognized the importance of monogamy.

The joining together of a male and a female to create new life makes them “one flesh” in the new life they create. And the obligations which attach to that, both before and after they “cleave unto” each other, required that they forsake any and all other relationships. They recognized that their relationship should be unique, exclusive and special – for the benefit of the new life they create.

There we find the source of the positive obligations we referred to in the introductory article.

Subconscious recognition of obligations

However, these first human beings did not sit down and make a list of what they thought was right and wrong. As we have already seen, they just subconsciously knew how they should behave.

That is the message in verse 25: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” The reason that “they were not ashamed” was that they did not look upon the physical body, and the act of procreation, as something to be exploited for the primary purpose of generating physical pleasure.

Their neurological moral networks subconsciously communicated the law to them – it “commanded” them, saying”. The neurological moral network automatically kept the moral equation in equilibrium, as long as they heeded what it told them.

So there would have been an innocence about them. They would have lived harmoniously with nature, and others like them. They would not have fenced off portions of the Earth to claim as their own. They would not have sought to quell their insecurities and fears by building walls around themselves. They would not have sought security in subjugating others to their control and power. They did not even need clothes to display their vanity. Neither did they need clothes to divert others from lusting after their bodies – they did not lust, because they knew it was wrong.

They would not have been in need of laws, because they knew the law. They would have known that making their own laws would simply be a ruse to violate the universal law which applied to everything and everybody.

That was the state of the human race before primitive human instincts got the better of some.

But there are alive today some of the descendants of those first human beings who inhabited the Earth at the time described in Genesis – the time when the first of the species emerged. And like their ancestors, they simply do what they know to be right and good. They are not consumed by the demands of their primitive instincts. They are not in relentless pursuit of pleasure, or the persistent fear of death and insecurity. They are an innocent, decent, and good people; or at least as innocent and good as anyone can be after being exposed to the ‘civilized world’.

They are the San people of Southern Africa, also known as the Bushmen. Anthropologists and geneticists identify some of these peoples as the ancestors of all human beings. Although I would say that the rest of us are the descendants of that part of the original family that went astray, and they are the descendants of those who did not go astray.

And as we shall see in the next article dealing with Chapters 3 and 4, science and Genesis supports that conclusion.

———————————————————–

This series of articles is based on the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

Notes:

[1] Kaku, Parallel Worlds, page 248.

[2] Genesis 2: 6.

[3] Genesis 2: 8 – 9.

[4] Philo, On the Creation, LVI (154).

[5] Genesis 2: 7.

[6] Genesis 2: 10.

[7] Genesis 2: 15.

[8] Genesis 2: 16 – 17.

[9] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (76).

[10] Genesis 2: 21.

[11] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (76).