I posted before about how I see a clear difference between brain and mind. Today I want to explore the difference between mind and spirit. There are those in the Scientific field who would disagree and are endeavoring to explain away consciousness, and spirituality as a pure brain physical phenomenon. This one is particularly interesting as it tries to blame the prophetic experiences of Muhammad and Joseph Smith on temporal lobe seizures.
I can assure you however, that in all my training, I have never heard of hallucinations of a pillar of light descending gradually upon them followed by coherent conversing with heavenly messengers from a seizure, it would be a rare seizure indeed. I am certain I could make a name and prestigious career for myself just by describing and providing evidence of such “God seizures.”
More than that however, this is a classic example of trying to take consciousness from the micro to macro level. These explanations always create more questions for me than they answer. Hypothetically, suppose there was a spiritual area of the temporal lobe, regardless of lack of any convincing evidence. Can we ever know that that area wasn’t placed there by God, reserved for communication?
Put another way, just because we can measure the brain activity caused by eating pancakes, doesn’t mean the pancakes are all in your head. It’s a logical fallacy. Maybe that wiring is there specifically to allow our body to recognize spiritual presence. The reductionists would claim to have rid the ghost from the machine. Does life make any sense when we seek to understand the machinations of life only to discover they don’t translate into our world experience. Perhaps more importantly, once this is our guiding truth, what do we become?
This does get at an interesting LDS theological question though. What exactly is the difference, if any, between our mind or consciousness and our spirit? How do they relate? How do they interact. Joseph Smith taught
A very material difference [exists] between the body and the spirit; the body is supposed to be organized matter, and the spirit, by many, is thought to be immaterial, without substance. With this latter statement we should beg leave to differ, and state the spirit is a substance; that it is material, but that it is more pure, elastic and refined matter than the body; that it existed before the body, can exist in the body; and will exist separate from the body, when the body will be mouldering in the dust; and will in the resurrection, be again united with it
Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith. p207
So what is it about our spirit that is necessary for life? What is it that continues after we die? Here is my speculative theory. We know that all things consist of “intelligence”, though what exactly that entails is uncertain. Some how our intelligence interacted with our spirit to become a being. Before we lived we had agency, made choices, progressed according to righteous principles. In order to do any of these things requires, memory, choices, in short consciousness. It would seem that in order for a spirit body to function it would also be in need of a mind. So much of who we are lies in our conscious thought, our memory, and our experience. One need only to watch the ravages of Alzheimer dementia reduce a person into a living shell of their prior self to realize how important these parts of us are. It would make sense to me if this mind were seated as is ours is in spiritual brain. As our brain develops the spiritual lattice could guide it in its connections, causing essentially the same consciousness to emerge, only with a veil of forgetfulness. When exposed to that which we knew before, we get the sensation of remembrance as memories spiritual and physical align. The new memories and synaptic connections we make in this life occur in both the physical and spiritual mind. When we break out of the physical mind, all the memories obscured by the veil come back, and in resurrection, all those memories are integrated and permanent. Perhaps the spiritual matter or intelligence are flip side of the matter and energy fluctuations that physicists can’t excise from equations.
I do realize that this is all complete speculation, taking statements from a prophet and extrapolating. I have no delusion that this is in any way scientific. I am sure the reductionists would call it straining to put the ghost back in the machine, with a completely nonfalsifiable solution. It makes
as much more sense to me than the God section of the temporal lobe or Boltzmann’s brain does however. In the end, if consciousness is just an illusion, it would seem all our thinking becomes suspect. Is anything then really knowable?
Personally, I have found both logic and spirit have taught me to make sense of the world that in ways that would not have come in any other, and yet like Paul, I realize we all are looking through a glass, darkly. With faith, I look forward to a day when we can come to a full understanding of things the way they are, have been and will be.