Using Science and Rationalism to Explore Consciousnsess and Spirituality


Stephen Budner recently sent me a email from an interview with Dr Charles Tart on ShrinkRapRadio #34, April 23, 2006. Forty Years of Consciousness Research. In the piece Dr. David Van Nuys, aka “Dr. Dave” interviews Dr. Charles Tart (transcribed from by Kerstin Sjoquist):

Other intelligent men and women were going through this same kind of crisis, and they realized science was right in a lot of ways – there was a lot of nonsense in religion, but was it all nonsense? And they came up with the brilliant idea of: can we apply the method of science? Not the particular findings at any moment, but the method to investigate various phenomenon – spirituality, religion – and begin to separate out what was true and important, and what was false and superstitious. That was an inspiring vision for me, and basically that’s what I’ve been doing the last 50 years.

You’ll find the transcribed interview at www.shrinkrapradio.com/34.pdf

Before doing a tour on Monday I was up in the Gallery and was reviewing a display book summarising Paolo Soleri’s work. It was a section that touched on the Grand Delusions and Animism. For Soleri it is black and white: all religions and concept of the spirit as something intrinsic is core to the illusions that keep humanity out of synch with the larger universal reality of which is comprized his sacred trinity Miniaturization, Complexity and Duration. Soleri’s theory of Arcology does leave open the possibity of spirit emerging from matter that is the result of human development via technology and consciousness.

Soleri’s view of the universe and reality seems to leave little room for even the possibility that thousands of years of indigenous development may have developed innate technologies and wisdom based on a more spiritually based understanding of how the life and universe operates.

What’s more is that it rejects without any questioning or doubt the experiences of countless people today who have experienced phenomena they cannot explain. Thus I see the problem as not a questioning of spirit, a caring universe or a universal consciousness that some refer to as the singularity that binds us to the forming of the universe, but an inability to consider that possible alternative scenarios may indeed exist and explain the pheonomology of the unverse and its development.

Of course AI proponents like Ray Kurzweil have come up with the idea of Technology Singularity:

Singularity: The rise of super intelligent life, created through the improvement of human tools by the acceleration of tecSingularity: The rise of super intelligent life, created through the improvement of human tools by the acceleration of technological progress reaching the point of infinity,

Also see the Wikipedia post which is a bit more expansive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity

So Soleri seems seduced by the Technology Singularity concept but ironically the most practical manifestation of that which led to the writing of the Paradox Thesis and the organization of several Paradox Conferences at Arcosanti including Paradox III which I attended, included some of the spiritual leaders of Spiritual Singularity movement (Marlyn Fergeson for example).

Peter Russell offers an alternative take on Singularity that seems to come aspects of traditional philosophical understandings of singularity (I first grasped the term in my Philosophy of Religious class at Missour State U) that might be worth contemplating in this discussion: http://www.peterrussell.com/WUIT/Sing.php

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