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Originally posted by Jon Matthews
I was born in 1976. I'm Physicist (PhD) and an atheist. For the last five years, I've been living as an ex-pat in several Scandinavian countries working as a post-doctoral researcher at various research institutes.
Why am I on ATS? I am a scientist through and through. I constantly seek new phenomena and ways to explain it. Although I strongly contest the existence of any supernatural or paranormal (see below), I do believe that the curious observations made in the course of recorded human history cannot be all explained away as illusions.
We do not understand the time or the Planck-scale structure of our universe, and we know that we are still missing a comprehensive theory of quantum gravity. Even worse, we do not know what consciousness is, how it emerges from the great synaptic network of the brain tissue and how it reacts to external stimuli. This particular gap in our present knowledge is of a great concern to me, since the entire chain of evidence from physical observations to theories goes through the mirror of our mind - how we interpret the things we observe. There's nothing mystical to this. Just like any scientist must understand how his instrument works, we should know how our mind works, before we make definitive claims on the fundamental nature of reality. For instance, are the reported ghosts exceedingly rare cases of quantum-level tunneling of information from another point on this (or some other) space-time manifold?
It is also my belief that the universe is fundamentally rational and that the human mind, being itself a product of the universe, can comprehend the existence - that there is nothing we cannot eventually rationalize by faithfully applying the scientific method: physical observations, reason and rational skepticism.
Furthermore, I believe that what we call paranormal, divine or demonic is nothing but natural phenomena that is exceedingly rare and near-impossible to observe under well-controlled and repeatable experimental conditions. Without sufficient repetition and control that all good science is based upon, there can be no testable and falsifiable hypotheses and that is when we - unfortunately - tend to regress back to magical thinking. Instead of denying ignorance, we embrace it. We throw up our arms, willfully abdicate the power of our reason and seek revelation in pantheons of gods, legions of demons and ephemeral ghosts.
We don't need gods or ossified religions that were originally borne out of the murky depths of our ancestral reptilian brain stem, and later evolved into a control mechanism for the masses. Our fleeting lives are too short for that.
The universe is a beautiful thing to behold. Understanding how it works is an endless quest that takes us on a fantastic journey to both without and within!
Finally, I do not pretend to be a self-appointed lightbringer or an authority to this community. I will mostly content myself with reading personal accounts and contemplating scientific, physical theories that could explain the curious phenomena.
Originally posted by Onboard2
I have had heated discussions with my 15 yr. old son concerning consciousness and what it is. He believes it's a product of our own biological processes within the brain and I believe it reaches much further than the brain, because at times in my life, I have tapped into an unseen resevoir of information and have no idea where it came from. I also believe we all have the ability to access that level of consciousness.