“I don’t think there’s a hard problem, I think the hard problem is an illusion that comes about because of the way we wrongly think about consciousness,” Dr Susan Blackmore explains in this exclusive interview. A freelance writer, lecturer and broadcaster, her research interests include memes, evolutionary theory, consciousness, and meditation. Her many publications include The Meme Machine; Conversations on Consciousness; Zen and the Art of Consciousness; and Consciousness- An Introduction.
In 1990, artists, scientists, spiritual leaders and economists gathered in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam to explore the emerging paradigm of a holistic world view and the implications for a global economy in a seminal conference called ‘Art Meets Science and Spirituality in a Changing Economy’. ‘The Chaotic Universe’ is the second film in the series of recordings of the event. In this fascinating tape, composer/artist John Cage, thermodynamic physicist Ilya Prigogine, and philosopher/comparative religion teacher Huston Smith are interviewed.
Blending physics, psychology, and philosophy, internationally renowned writer, Peter Russell, leads us to a new worldview in which consciousness is a fundamental quality of creation. He is fascinated by how light is a recurrent theme in meditation, religion, philosophy and modern physics, and asks ‘Does physical reality and the reality of the mind share common ground in light?’
Throughout the ages people have felt that the material world is not all there is. Mystical visions, answers to prayer or an awareness of a power or comforting presence beyond the self have given intimations of a greater reality beyond the everyday. Might this awareness also suggest some kind of survival of death as End of Life Experiences, Near-Death Experiences and Post Death Communication seem to indicate?
Marianne Rankin looks at a range of spiritual experiences and considers the effects on people’s lives and what they might indicate about the nature of consciousness and Ultimate Reality.
Many experiences cited are taken from the archive of the Religious Experience Research Centre, now at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Lampeter, the collection initiated by Sir Alister Hardy in Oxford when he retired as Linacre Professor of Zoology in 1969. Much has happened since.
Michael Falzoni’s work is inspired by the possibilities of infinite combinations, reflecting his interest in relationships and the interplay between internal and external realities. Each piece is an exploration of unity and totality.
In this essay I intend to demonstrate how cognitive science, which stands at the crossroads of the natural sciences and the human sciences, has adopted an “objectivist” perspective on cognition that unnecessarily limits our understanding of the human mind; and I shall conclude with a prolegomenon to understanding the nature of consciousness and its causal efficacy.
Cynthia Sue Larson Interviews Seán Ó Nualláin
For the first time, an author with peer-reviewed published work in neuroscience, comparative religion, theoretical biology and many facets of cognitive science takes on the Big Issues of science and religion, as well as the current paralysis in real innovation. Seán Ó Nualláin’s latest book, One Magisterium, is here reviewed by the eminent scientist and thinker, Stuart Kauffman.
Does self-organisation pose a threat to theology? Or is God the facilitator of a complex world? And is there a role for thought experiments in religion? Niels Henrik Gregerson, Professor of Systematic Theology at University of Copenhagen, discusses religion’s place in a scientific world and how both science and religion could benefit from a combined approach.
Biological information is not only instructional but also has to do with ‘valued’ and ‘significant’ information, which puts the receiver in the centre of interest. Bernd-Olaf Küppers, Professor of Natural Sciences, offers a distinct naturalistic view about how crucial semantic levels of information might emerge via evolutionary processes.